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Archives reveal a wealth of famous supporters!

Well-known people from all walks of life have provided generous support for our hospitals over the years.  A dig into our archives revealed just some of them… 

When world famous contralto Kathleen Ferrier (1912-1953, pictured with the plaque unveiled in her honour) was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1952 it was too late for effective treatment. But she continued to perform, even taking curtain calls after her femur snapped during a performance of Gluck’s Orfeo. Sadly she died before she could give a fundraising recital for the UCH radiotherapy department, but her musical colleagues and devoted public donated their talents and money to establish a cancer research fund. We still receive royalties from her recordings and the University College London chair of cancer research bears her name.

Another supporter of the fund, Flora Swingland, trained with Dame Ninette de Valois at the Royal Ballet School before working for the Special Operations Executive during World War Two. She was successfully treated for cancer at UCH and her fundraising for the Kathleen Ferrier Fund is recognised with a plaque in the radiotherapy department, just a few yards away from the one commemorating the singer.

The playwright Sir Arthur Wing Pinero (1855 – 1934) remembered UCH in his will and performances of a number of his plays still benefit us – though sadly, he is no longer as popular as he once was!

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Acts of Mercy

We’ve also benefited from the visual arts. The entrance hall of The Middlesex Hospital was, for many years, enriched by the four vast canvasses by artist Frederick Cayley Robinson (1862-1927). ‘Acts of Mercy’ are now on public display in the Wellcome Library, next door to the new UCH.

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A donation from the family of physician and feminist Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836-1917) has provided artwork for the wing named after her. Thousands of photographs of the staff have been used to create images of the pioneering female medic.

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UCLH worked with the Worshipful Company of Glaziers to commission some stunning artwork - Alex Robinson’s ‘Sundance’ (featured on the front cover) and Michelle Dawson’s ‘Circles and Rainbows’ (above).