Many of us regularly pass the building, which stands on Russell Road, and see the name “Edith Vizard Memorial Nurses’ Home.” Many of us will also remember the ward named after her in the Royal Alexandra Hospital, which was always abbreviated to “E.V.”
But how much do we know about her?
This is the report of her death from the “Record and Advertiser”, May 2nd 1908.
Death of Miss Vizard
A Noble Career
“The Royal Alexandra Hospital has sustained a severe and irreprable loss in the death of its Lady Superintendent, Miss Vizard, whom we regret to say has passed away at the age of 73, on Thursday after a severe and prolonged illness, which she bore with her characteristic and Christian fortitude. For the last few months the hospital staff and friends of the institution have been much concerned over Miss Vizard’s illness and a gloom has pervaded the surrounding atmosphere. The last annual general meeting of the hospital, was the first Miss Vizard has missed since her advent in Rhyl and many sympathetic references to her absence were made, particularly by the Bishop, who paid a touching and heartfelt tribute to the great and enduring service rendered to the Institution by Miss Vizard. The deceased lady practically devoted her life’s work to the Hospital, and the history of the two are inextricably interwoven. No one has contributed more to the success of the Institution than Miss Vizard, and the growth and general improvement of the Hospital must be largely placed to her credit.
Her care and devotion to the sick, her businesslike capacity, fortitude and perseverance have won for her general admiration and everywhere her name is alluded to with the greatest respect. Up to 1878 there was not a competent or responsible chief of the Hospital – it was a very small institution in those days, but in that year Miss Vizard with Miss Graham, both of whom had been trained in that worldwide known Great Ormond Hospital for Children in London, took charge of the hospital. Both ladies undertook the work solely out of philanthropic motives, and it may surprise many to learn that neither of them would take a penny remuneration for their splendid services. The devotion of these two ladies rapidly elevated the Hospital to a position of prominence, not only as a home for convalescent patients, but as a training school for those large hearted and courageous ladies who so nobly consecrate their lives to assist in the alleviation of the miseries of suffering humanity. The accommodation at this time would permit of 60 patients being at the Hospital, since then a new and commodious building has been built which was opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1902. Indeed, the hospital has never looked back since Miss Vizard went there, and the large building now ornamenting the east end of Rhyl is an eloquent testimonial to the great work of the deceased lady, and the monument of her useful life’s work must have consoled her during her last days. The nursing institution which she founded and organised has been a great help and boon to the locality and has performed abundant, but unostentatious work. Miss Vizard was a member of the Church of England and a faithful attendant at St. Thomas’s. In addition Miss Vizard supervised the nursing arrangements and management of the Infectious Diseases Hospital at Towyn.”
This excerpt is from a paper called “A Christmas Carol: Charles Dickens and the birth of orthopaedics” by A.J Carter FFARCS
The Sea Side Hospital
“In 1874, Miss Edith Vizard, who had been Matron of Great Ormond Street Hospital at the time of Dickens’s death, and her friend Miss Margaret Cunninghame-Graham, took charge of a recently opened children’s convalescent home at Rhyl, on the North Wales Coast.
The Sea Side Hospital has an almost pivotal place in orthopaedic history. Not only was it the first children’s hospital to use fresh air as an integral part of treatment, but it was also here that Hugh Owen Thomas of Liverpool first demonstrated the splints and frames which were used to revolutionize the management of deformed joints. It was also here, in 1887, that the remarkable crippled nurse Agnes Hunt began her training.”
To read about Gertrude Foulkes click here