25th November
University of Derby, Buxton

The Royal Devonshire Hospital (1)

University to re-live its role in healing WW1 wounds

Buxton’s Devonshire Dome will relive its part in healing the wounds of the First World War on November 25 when the University of Derby hosts a conference examining changing attitudes to  disability.

The  Dome – now the University’s Buxton campus – was called up as a hospital to care for British, Canadian and ANZAC soldiers injured in the conflict.

And the BBC has just completed a major film about its most famous nurse – author and feminist Vera Brittain, who trained at the Dome in 1915 when it was the Devonshire Hospital.

As part of National Disability History Month, the University’s Disability Coordinator Olivia Ramsbottom is bringing together organisations who work with disability to look at attitudes from the past and compare them to those of today.

“The centenary of the outbreak of WW1 and the Dome’s role in helping the wounded was an ideal starting point for the day,” said Olivia, who lectures in Business and Management.

Events will include a presentation on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, now recognised as a major issue among veterans, but only beginning to be understood when the Dome was treating soldiers injured at the Front.

Combat Stress, the UK charity which helps military personnel, will open the event, and one of the University’s lecturers will also talk about his work with veterans in the United States. The Grapevine Wellbeing Centre and other local organisations helping people with disabilities are also attending.

One of Vera Brittain’s close friends suffered from shell shock, as PTSD was then known, and she told the story of his lost generation in Testament of Youth, on which the BBC and Heyday Films have based their film of the same name.

Starring Swedish star Alicia Vikander as Vera, the film will be shown later this year or early in 2015.

The Dome’s patients kept an autograph album during the war, detailing their names, regiments, where they were injured and when they went home.

The wounded came from battles including the Somme, Loos and Gallipoli – but one gunner received his injuries in Newcastle-on-Tyne during a Zeppelin raid in 1915.

Comments in the book include a rude ditty about Kaiser Wilhelm, jokes – and a poem exhorting patients to “spread a little sunshine.”

For More Information contact John Phhips j.phillips@derby.ac.uk 
Vera Brittain