Earlier this year I made a series of 12 photographic portraits and asked people how they felt about the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI) and the proposals to dismantle it. Images and stories below.
The work is currently exhibited upstairs at The Corner – Mallinsons Brewery Taphouse until 24 Sept 2017.
“When my brother was 14 he was misdiagnosed with flu. Pretty quickly it became clear he had meningitis.
He was taken to HRI and my mum called me to say I should come home because my brother wasn’t going to make it.
He is still here. My brother. The care and brilliance of the staff at HRI saved his life.
Let’s not throw it away. It’s a LIFELINE and it needs love and investment.”
Lena Headey, Actor.
“I have always found the people of Huddersfield to be straight talking and very determined. And I support the campaign at HRI.”
Sir Patrick Stewart, Actor.
“The HRI needs to be protected because of Ward 18, the Children’s assessment unit. This is where people like Sue Richter and the community nursing team are going above and beyond to help children, like my nephew Harry. Without this, my family and so many others would be without vital care and support.”
Jodie Whittaker, Actor.
“I chose Huddersfield to be my home. I’ve always been openly proud that my babies were brought safely and calmly into the world through the care of the incredible staff at HRI.
To think that its future can be called into question is as wrong as it is embarrassing.
It’s the responsibility of us all to ensure we fight on behalf of the generation coming up behind us.”
Benson Taylor, Composer and Producer.
“When I was in labour with my little girl, it was a 45 minute drive to Halifax. Since then I’ve thought, oh my gosh, what if there’s nothing in Huddersfield if my daughter has a fall? What if my daughter has something wrong with her? We’re going to have to go elsewhere. As a mum, that concerns me most, that the A&E is not going to be available.
Huddersfield is so big, how can they take the A&E away? What are we going to do, get on the bus and go somewhere else? What if you don’t have that option? It concerns me a lot that that’s not going to be available in the future. Huddersfield is growing, so what are all those people that live in Huddersfield going to do?
It’s going to impact on students coming to Huddersfield, not having a hospital accessible; especially if they don’t have transport and rely on buses to get there. We’re not going to attract more people in, who are hoping then to settle here and put the talents that they’ve learned at university back into Huddersfield if we don’t have adequate resources – like a good accident and emergency or a good hospital.”
Georgia Harrup, Singer songwriter.
“I am a manual worker. I work with machine, portable power and hand tools which use sharp blades and abrasives.
When I first heard the news that HRI was planning to close its A+E department, my first thoughts were about the almost permanent state of slow traffic on the Elland bypass, which would need to be negotiated in case of a work accident.
The time spent sitting in, or moving slowly in traffic from Huddersfield to Halifax, could be the difference between losing a finger or keeping it, or surviving a serious injury and bleeding to death.
A local A+E department is crucial for many reasons, closing Huddersfield A+E would be disastrous.”
Paul Huxtable, Axis Valv-a-tron Sound System, DJ.
“I was born in Barnsley, 15 miles away from where I live now. I’ve always lived here. I love the countryside, the history, the folklore, the people. I can’t imagine wanting to live anywhere else.
It’s a cynical, dangerous scheme that will inevitably result in loss of life. If the HRI closes, the nearest A&E may take over an hour to reach at peak period. And it’s already oversubscribed. There’s nothing efficient about these cuts: they are brutal: irresponsible: part of a push by the Government to privatise the NHS and deplete the provinces still further of their resources.
I’ve used the HRI several times; when I cut my hand on broken crockery; when my daughter fractured her ankle playing hockey at school; when my husband developed sudden chest pains; when I suddenly couldn’t breathe and had to be rushed to the hospital. In every case, the staff were helpful, kind and calm. It was always good to know that, in an emergency, the HRI was close by.”
Joanne Harris, Author.
“My grandparents, parents, have all grown up in Huddersfield. My first ever experience of visiting was when I was 6. My mum realised I was walking with a limp and took me to the HRI. The doctors examined me, X-rayed my knees and I found out that I had knees of a 70 year old. I can still remember now, at the age of 6, sitting on a cold steel X-ray bed and finding out my knees were bad. I can remember they showed me how to walk properly and to make sure my knees didn’t get any worse, which benefitted me. I went on to have a football career.
We’ve had to visit the HRI a couple of times with my son, when he’s banged his head. The first time was when he was about 3, he was playing football at his friend’s house. His mum came running back saying he’s got a big cut on his head – and there’s blood pouring out – obviously he’s banged it and he’s had to go straight to HRI. They glued it up and an hour later he’s back running around absolutely fine. Another time at school, he banged his head and he got concussion. They kept him in for a night and looked after him.
I can only say positive things about the HRI. They’ve really looked after us. We haven’t had to use it a lot, but when we have the doctors, the nurses, everybody associated with it are absolutely brilliant. They’ve really helped my family and a lot of other families in Huddersfield.”
Andy Booth, Footballer.
“Since I can remember, HRI has been involved in mine, my family’s and my friends’ lives.
I have a chronic illness, first diagnosed and treated at HRI. The care and support that the unsung heroes at HRI have provided has always been first class.
HRI is, without question, an absolute necessity for the good people of Huddersfield and beyond.
The simple knowledge that it exists is an absolute comfort to tens of thousands of people – knowing that HRI stands proudly in Lindley and is there for ALL to rely upon.
Questioning the future of an institution like HRI is an insult to the countless people who have dedicated their lives to ensure that others can continue living theirs.
Moving forward to dismantle HRI will prove to be catastrophic for so many.”
Dan Cadan, Writer and Director.
“I am a Chair of Governors at a local school and I’m concerned that should any of our children and school community have an accident and need emergency support, the time it would take them to get to the proposed A+E from Huddersfield could have serious consequences. A local A+E has served this community for a number of years and over the 20 years that we have raised our two sons here in Huddersfield, we have, like many required the emergency services to assist us in our time of need. Any added stress and pressure caused by the journey to a hospital outside of our local area can only be detrimental to the health and well being of the communities of Huddersfield.”
Amanda Huxtable, Theatre Director.
“Is it a lot to ask that a town, and a very large and proud town at that, should have its own fully functioning hospital? I was born here and will probably die here, and there’s a comfort in knowing you’ll be looked after by your own kind, in your own patch, from cradle to grave. To think about going cap in hand, knocking on a distant door asking for a pillow or pills is as demeaning as it is impractical, and for a town like Huddersfield to be without its own hospital is a humiliation.”
Simon Armitage, Poet.
“I was brought up in Huddersfield. My family’s all been brought up in Huddersfield. We’ve been to the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary on many occasions.
A few instances spring to mind straight away, like the birth of my daughter. She was born nine weeks premature – we were fearing for her life – and she went into the special care baby unit. She spent the first five and a half weeks of her life in an incubator in HRI. I was there every single day, as you do, singing songs and reading stories to her as I watched her grow and get stronger and stronger. She’s fifteen now and nearly 6ft tall and she’s made up for it.
The care and treatment was just simply fantastic throughout. The hospital being on the doorstep and being in Huddersfield is ideal because emergencies do come up. Not just for me but everyone, it’s an everyday event.
Just last year I was cutting wood with a chop saw at home and went straight through my hand. I could have lost my fingers quite easily but I rushed myself to the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and again they were absolutely brilliant. They got me straight in and cleaned me up and later I had to have an operation. The care I got was second to none and I was seen really quickly too.
Huddersfield is the place I want to be. It’s such a big town and it should have its own hospital. Instead of taking it away, in my opinion they should be putting more into it.”
Eorl Crabtree, Rugby Player.
Thank you to everyone who has supported this project, especially the 12 people in the photography series who gave their time and stories.
If you would like to add your own story about the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI) to the postcard project please scroll down for details.
There is still over a week to add your story to the postcard project
You can drop them off to The Corner – Mallinsons Brewery Taphouse where there is a postcard album within the exhibition (until Sunday 24 Sept 2017)
Or alternatively send them on a postcard (with a stamp) to:
HRI Postcard Project
The Corner – Mallinsons Brewery Taphouse
5 Market Walk
All images ©Olivia Hemingway.
For usage or any other enquiries please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
This series was part of a project in collaboration with The SHARP Agency which included a poster campaign and a short video with music kindly donated by Massive Attack.