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Two hearts come together at benenden hospital

When it was first opened in 1907, benenden hospital in Kent was originally a sanatorium to treat postal workers suffering from tuberculosis.

Two Hearts Coming TogetherAlthough today the hospital is no longer involved with the treatment of TB – as it is now a modern hospital offering a wide range of treatments and services – one couple still remember the hospital as it was many decades ago and they have kindly shared their memories with us…

Gytha Morrow was aged just 21 when her employer, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, sent her off to benenden hospital. Mrs Morrow had lost a lot of weight, had a terrible cough which did not seem to clear up and looked very unwell. She had to leave behind friends and colleagues in Cardiff and move into benenden hospital, in rural Kent, where she was told she might have to stay for several months. 

At the same time Robert Morrow had also been sent to benenden hospital, from his home in London, not as a TB patient, but for a spine operation, after which there followed a period of convalescence. 

After being assessed Gytha was told she could socialise with other patients and did not need to be in quarantine. It wasn’t long before she met Robert and just 16 days after their first meeting he proposed! 

Mrs Morrow, now aged 70, said: “We’d sit together in the work room, where I would sew and we’d go for walks within the grounds. We both have very fond memories of the hospital. It was set in such beautiful grounds, with wonderful staff. 

“Luckily it turned out that I did not have TB, but I still had to stay for three months to get better. 

“I did see many of the TB patients, which was a sad sight. They had usually lost a lot of weight and it was particularly sad to see the young men looking so unwell. 

“The TB patients would be wheeled out into the sunshine as they recovered from the illness. They were very well looked after and it was a beautiful place to recuperate. With that kind of setting you couldn’t help but get well! I remember returning home and being so brown that I looked like I had been abroad. It was as glorious summer, the summer that I was at benenden. 

“Robert was able to leave the hospital before me and when he did I cried my eyes out. People said to me that I would never see him again and that it was all over, but then he returned, got down on one knee and proposed and we’ve been happily married for the past 47 years, 48 this August.” 

The couple were married in Wales and now live in Northampton. Mrs Morrow worked in the health service, as a cleric and Mr Morrow, is a retired engineer. They have one daughter and two grand-children. 
A hospital may not be the obvious place to find love, but for Gytha and Robert it proved just the right medicine for a lifelong love!

Media inquiries regarding this story should be directed to Jane Barlow at benenden hospital on 01580 242 597 or email jane.barlow@benenden.org.uk

 

 

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