RCN centenary

All in the festive spirit

Christmas was once a time for hospital patients and staff to come together as a family, recalls Peter Sykes

Christmas was once a time for hospital patients and staff to come together as a family, recalls Peter Sykes.

Abstract

In the 1960s, a wonderful seasonal atmosphere developed in Manchester Royal Infirmary every Christmas. No one wanted to be in hospital at this time of year, but great efforts were made by the staff to create a cheerful atmosphere for the patients.

For those of us who lived in the nurses home or in the doctors mess at that time, it was an unforgettable experience. A few days before the big day, the porters erected a Christmas tree in each ward, and the nurses and ambulant patients decorated it.

On Christmas Eve, a carol service was held in the hospital chapel. Many members of staff and patients attended. A small Christmas tree stood next to the altar, beneath which were presents for local orphaned children.

The

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Christmas was once a time for hospital patients and staff to come together as a family, recalls Peter Sykes.

Abstract

In the 1960s, a wonderful seasonal atmosphere developed in Manchester Royal Infirmary every Christmas. No one wanted to be in hospital at this time of year, but great efforts were made by the staff to create a cheerful atmosphere for the patients.

For those of us who lived in the nurses’ home or in the doctor’s ‘mess’ at that time, it was an unforgettable experience. A few days before the big day, the porters erected a Christmas tree in each ward, and the nurses and ambulant patients decorated it.

On Christmas Eve, a carol service was held in the hospital chapel. Many members of staff and patients attended. A small Christmas tree stood next to the altar, beneath which were presents for local orphaned children.

The service always began with the carol Once in Royal David’s City, with the first verse sung by a solo soprano. As the second verse commenced, the nurses’ choir entered, each carrying a lantern on a shepherd’s crook. When the nurses took their places at the front of the chapel, the service began.

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This article was first published in print in Nursing Standard: volume 28, issue 16

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