As part of their centenary year celebrations Erskine held a Service of Commemoration on 7th June to mark the 99th anniversary of the official opening of the hospital by its patron Princess Louise on 6th June 1917. The hospital had actually opened the previous October and had already treated over 600 patients. The inauguration was an opportunity to acknowledge the work already done and to affirm the long-term aims of the hospital before a large audience of supporters and donors. The ceremony took place in the gardens in front of Erskine House. A platform decorated with red, white and blue bunting was set up for the speeches. Seats of honour immediately in front of the platform were reserved for patients, behind them sat the nursing staff. Other guests and the public occupied a raised terrace facing the platform.
Founder of the hospital, Sir William Macewen outlined the scope and objectives of the hospital and emphasised the long term need for it after the immediate war causalities had been treated. Mr John S. Samuel, honorary secretary of the Hospital then
read an address thanking Princess Louise for her devotion to the hospital, acknowledging the circumstances in which it opened and the generous support of all who donated to it:
‘The Great War in which we are at present engaged has demonstrated to the world not only the patriotism, heroism, and bravery of the British nation, but also the wealth of spontaneous sympathy and generosity which only awaited such an opportunity as the war provided in order to bring them forth in abundant measure. No institution created by the war has been the object of more solicitude and kindness than the one which your Royal Highness had inaugurated today’.
Princess Louise then gave a stirring speech, reflecting these sentiments:
The fact that these splendid sailors and soldiers have rendered such heroic and valuable services to their King and country has been what has really inspired and united everyone connected with this work and directed their best efforts to its success. We hope here to help them to regain much of their former activity and to make life helpful to them…We have been able to launch this special institution through our unity of purpose. Nothing could be achieved without such unity, born through forgetfulness of self in the aim of helping those who come forward to serve the British Nation and the freedom of humanity. Let me thank all the generous and sympathetic donors and helpers for the heartiness and loyalty with which they have joined in this achievement so very dear to all of our hearts…Here is the result- this beautiful hospital and those beautiful and charming surroundings. Future generations when they see them will ever be reminded of our brave men of this generation”.
This years celebration, held on 7th June at the was attended by Princess Louise’s great great grand niece HRH Princess Anne who has been a frequent visitor to Erskine since her first visit in 1971.
In her address Princess Anne reflected on the past century of care and paid tribute to the resilience of Erskine, which has evolved to respond to the changing needs of veterans since 1916.
‘Erskine is constantly evolving in many different ways and has evolved very successfully, so every time I come there is always something new happening and it was a pleasure to celebrate all of those events. A day like today is an opportunity to celebrate the fact that Erskine is still here… The care, the love, the friendships remain the same’.- Princess Anne, 7th June 2016.
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