A new exhibition created in partnership between My University Hospitals Sussex and Brighton & Hove Museums explores recently re-discovered cot plaques from the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital and shares the stories of kindness behind them.

What are Cot Plaques?

Before the NHS was founded in 1948, payment for medical treatment depended on your job, your class, gender, and age. And while from 1911 many working men got healthcare under the National Insurance Act, their wives and children still had to pay out of their own pockets to see a doctor and many struggled to get the medical treatment they needed.

This is when charities and their patrons – the people who give money – were a great support. One of the ways they helped was to pay for babies’ medical care. In return, their name or the name of a loved one, or somebody they wanted to remember, was etched on a metal plaque fixed to a baby’s cot in the hospital – Cot Plaques. 

“What a wonderful and moving way to acknowledge the history of the hospital from within a new building”

Who were the Patrons?

The exhibition explores the patrons – who were they and why did they make their gifts? Meet the Cheerful Sparrows, discover the fate of a deadly U-boat crew, and find out where Mr and Mrs Bythesea really lived.

Learn about some of them in the Heritage Space, our de-consecrated Grade II Listed Victorian chapel that was rebuilt, tile by tile, panel by panel, pane by pane, in the south-western corner of the Louisa Martindale building – the new home of the Royal Sussex County Hospital. 

Can I attend the exhibition?

The exhibition will soon be open for all patients, staff and visitors to attend. Charity volunteers will be managing the space and guiding guests around the exhibition.  

Please get in contact with uhsussex.charity@nhs.net for further details on when the exhibition will be open.

Can I support this work?

Since 1995, due to the kindness and generosity of local people, our charity has been improving the lives of NHS patients and staff from all over the area. You can join the patrons of yesteryear by making a gift today.  

What’s next?  

We are really proud to be working alongside Brighton & Hove Museums. Brighton & Hove Museums have five fabulous museums in Brighton & Hove where they run an exciting programme of exhibitions and events. They bring a wealth of experience and expertise to this new area of work for us.  
The Inscriptions of Kindness exhibition is the first in a series of exhibitions we will be running together. So, watch this space!

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