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HRH Princess Alexandra visits Cassel Hospital in Ham to mark the NHS’s 70th birthday

06 Jul 2018

West London Mental Health Trust welcomed HRH Princess Alexandra to the Cassel Hospital in Ham, to open a new memorial garden as part of the NHS’s 70th birthday celebrations on Thursday 5 July.

The Cassel Hospital works with people with severe personality disorder and complex trauma and 2018 also marks the 70th anniversary of its move to its current location.

The new Sanctuary Garden is designed to provide a peaceful and healing place for staff, patients and visitors to enjoy. It is the work of local, award-winning garden designer Tom Massey and is dedicated to Countess Mountbatten of Burma, who died last year and was a leading supporter of the hospital. She was the great granddaughter of Sir Ernest Cassel, the founder of the hospital.

HRH Princess Alexandra met patients and staff during her visit and heard about the internationally-renowned work that the hospital does. West London Mental Health Trust’s Chief Executive, Carolyn Regan, planted a time capsule – containing messages from patients and staff – which will be dug up in 70 years’ time, in 2088.

Dr Oliver Dale, the clinical lead for the hospital, spoke about the Countess of Mountbatten’s long association with the Cassel, informed by her own experience of loss and trauma. He also described the unique way in which staff and patients work together to run the community. Former patient Melanie Bell read a poem about her experience as a patient at the Cassel.

Carolyn Regan said: “It’s fitting that we have marked the 70th birthday of our much loved NHS with a special celebration at the Cassel, which itself celebrates 70 years this year at its current site.

“I’m delighted that HRH Princess Alexandra was able to join us to open the garden. While at least one person in 20 is living with personality disorder, the Cassel is the only specialist residential NHS service in the UK for adults and young people with a diagnosis of severe personality disorder and complex trauma.

“The new garden is really stunning and mirrors what the Cassel hopes patients’ journey at the hospital will be, as they move from chaos to safety, to hope, and, ultimately, back into the community”.

Notes to Editors:

  • The attached photo shows (from left): HRH Princess Alexandra, Tom Massey (garden designer), Linda Stradins (Service Manager, Cassel Hospital)
  • Richmond garden designer Tom Massey displayed a garden at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show inspired by his experiences of seeing the gardens which Syrian refugees in Northern Iraq have created in their camp. His Chelsea garden used the same raw materials that the refugees have access to. Tom won the Royal Horticultural Society Silver-Gilt Medal at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in 2017.
  • Sir Ernest Cassel founded the Cassel Hospital in 1919 for World War I victims of shell shock. Countess Mountbatten was a supporter of the Cassel Hospital for over 50 years and was a trustee of the Cassel Hospital Charitable Trust, helping to fundraise several million pounds for the Hospital.
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