From Flanders Field to Bath, Tales from the War Hospital, a new series of nine stories commemorating the hospital which was built on the Combe Down site 100 years ago, have been commissioned by Bath Hospital Radio.
The project – the first literary commission by Bath Hospital Radio in its 50 year history – coincides with the Acts of Kindness exhibition curated by Art at the Heart which opens at the Royal United Hospital on Monday and marks the war hospital centenary.
Patients at the Royal United and Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases and people listening online at www.bathhospitalradio.org.uk will be able to hear one of the stories every morning at 11am throughout the summer.
Bath Hospital Radio volunteer Clare Reddaway, who curated, recorded and edited the series, commissioned local writers who have performed regularly at Story Friday, the live literature event she runs in Bath.
“I asked these writers if they would like to create stories inspired by the war hospital – I was astonished by the response and by the variety and high quality of the stories that they have produced,” said Clare.
“‘I’m so proud that these talented writers have written such strong and interesting stories, each of which is rooted in historical fact.”
The writers are Julie Green, Elaine Miles, Christine Roberts, Adrian Paul, Julie Hayman, Clare Reddaway, Lisa Fryer and Doc Watson who wrote two stories.
“Moving, warm and real, the stories are frequently uplifting. Hearing them, listeners will get a real sense and flavour of what this particular First World War hospital was actually like,” added Clare.
There are stories about the soldiers who were wounded patients at the hospital – a private with shell shock and a pianist whose hands shake uncontrollably.
The series also includes tales about the nurses and VADs (volunteer nurses) who looked after the soldiers: stories of love, of course, and of music and miraculous cures. There’s a story about a trip out to the theatre in Bath, and a story about a boy who wants to be an orderly.
Writer Elaine Miles said: “It’s been an honour to write something for such an auspicious commemoration.”
‘It was a really enjoyable and enriching experience,” added Adrian Paul.