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Historian to Share Award-Winning Research at Public Workshop

Members of the public will have the opportunity to discover more about the history of the Worcester Royal Infirmary at a workshop hosted by a prize-winning University of Worcester graduate next month.

Sarah Ganderton, who graduated last year, has recently been awarded a prize by the Worcestershire Historical Society for her research into how the hospital was funded during the latter part of the 19th century and early years of the 20th century.

Prior to the formation of the NHS, hospitals such as the Infirmary were funded by subscribers – people or organisations who voluntarily contributed a fixed amount to the running of a hospital and, in return, could recommend people for treatment.

Sarah’s research aimed to lift the lid on who contributed to the running of the hospital. She explains: “Studying accounts, subscriber lists and local trade directories, I looked at the people, charities, businesses, and even employee groups paying an annual fee to the Infirmary as subscribers in 1885 and 1910.

“I then used the information from the original records to create statistics and look at patterns to compare my finding with previous research on different subscribers at other institutions.

“I found there were interesting changes through this period, with rises in the number and amount of subscriptions from women and the working class. Worcester had many female subscribers, who were not necessarily motivated by male family members.

“The number of female subscribers and the amounts they subscribed rose, while the number of male subscribers fell in the same period. This was different to what other historians had discovered in other institutions. I also found that there were increasing numbers of employee groups subscribing for their own benefit to nominate patients to use the Infirmary, just before the National Insurance Act came into force.”

Sarah was appointed as the part-time Project Officer at the Infirmary – which is now an interactive museum which forms part of the University’s City Campus – during the second year of her degree, a placement which she says inspired her to explore the history of the building.

Now, she works as a Graduate Trainee within the Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service, based at The Hive, conducting research and working alongside archivists, conservator, digitisers, archaeologists, and the outreach team.

Of her Worcestershire Historical Society Prize, she says: “I was surprised and delighted to receive a letter from the Society congratulating me on the award. It was lovely to receive this recognition; it really makes all the work seem worthwhile.”

Sarah will be running a workshop at The Hive on May 19, during which the public will be invited to explore the archives and hear from Sarah on her research and what she discovered. Tickets for this workshop cost £6 and can be booked via email, at explorethepast@worcestershire.gov.uk, or by phone on 01905 766352. Tickets can also be purchased from the Explore the Past desk in The Hive.

For information on courses at University of Worcester visit www.worcester.ac.uk or for application enquiries telephone 01905 855111 or email admissions@worc.ac.uk.