12 August 2016

Some of Roald Dahl’s most famous characters now greet children as they come for eye treatment at Stoke Mandeville Hospital’s Ophthalmology Department, thanks to the generosity of Dahl’s principal illustrator, Quentin Blake.

Quentin responded to a request from the children’s eye team at the hospital with a donation of a collection of prints depicting instantly-recognisable characters such as the BFG and Matilda.  The 8 brightly-coloured canvas prints have been hung around the department, bringing delight and inspiration to the 180-200 children who pass through the department every week for treatment.  

The timing coincides with the celebrations to mark the centenary of Roald Dahl, who spent more than 36 years living and writing his famous stories in Great Missenden, just ten miles down the road from Stoke Mandeville.

The prints were formally unveiled at the hospital in a small ceremony on 2 August.  Though Quentin was not able to attend, he was represented by his archivist Liz Williams, who has a personal connection with the department as her daughter was treated there in 2011.  In a written statement prepared for the occasion, Quentin said: 

“That these pictures are in a children’s unit is very appropriate and especially pleasing to me. I spend a lot of my time looking at drawings and I have a special pair of spectacles that lives on my drawing board which I never lose sight of. In fact that’s not quite true as sometimes they get in among the drawings and I spend ages looking for them!”

Consultant ophthalmologist, Sarah Maling, who initiated the project to bring the prints to the department, commented:

“We are thrilled to have received such a lovely donation from Quentin Blake. When I joined the Trust over two years ago we were fortunate to be developing a new waiting area for the kids that come to the eye services at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. I happened to have moved from London and be reading Danny the Champion of the World with my kids. It was through this book and its location that I learned about how much of a local hero Roald Dahl is to Buckinghamshire. We are all thrilled at the Ophthalmology Department to be able to enjoy these pictures every day and are forever indebted to Quentin Blake and Liz for allowing this to happen.”

Links:

Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS: http://www.buckshealthcare.nhs.uk/About/quentin-blake-brilliance-brightens-up-ophthalmology.htm

Local media coverage:
http://www.mix96.co.uk/news/local/2056849/brightening-up-the-ophthalmology-department/

http://www.bucksherald.co.uk/news/more-news/hospital-art-has-an-eye-on-bucks-rich-literary-heritage-1-7518875