Page last updated at 16:39 GMT, Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Searching for Sully patients
Sully Hospital
Sully Hospital was last used as a psychiatric unit and closed in 2000

Writer Ann Shaw is searching for people with a link to Sully Hospital near Penarth for a book she's researching.

As a teenager, Ann was a patient there for six months in 1960 when it was a tuberculosis hospital.

Some of the first trials for drugs that were to go on to cure TB were carried out at Sully.

Ann has already co-written a book entitled The Children of Craig-y-Nos about the Swansea Valley castle's time as a children's TB sanatorium.

Ann tells us more about her time in Sully Hospital:

"Sully. The word conjures up many meanings - depending on your age. If you are young it represents a luxury upmarket apartment block overlooking the sea, somewhere you aspire to live in.

"But those of us with older memories, going back 50 years and more, remember it for what it was originally built for in 1936 - a state of the art model hospital for TB patients.

"I was one of those, a teenager in 1960, sent to Sully and I remember the fear and dread it cast in my mind. Having as a child spent four years incarcerated in Craig-y-nos Castle - the children's TB sanatorium at the top of the Swansea valley, former home of opera diva Adelina Patti - we had lived in fear of Sully.

"It was where they sent you to die. It was where you went to have 'the operation'.

"So the news that I was being sent to Sully - instead of teachers training college in Bristol for I was in the Sixth-form at St Michael's convent, Abergavenny - plunged me into a state of total despair.

"For in the weeks waiting for a place in Sully I slept with a bottle of aspirins beside my bed. I looked at them longingly each night. My world had been destroyed. Again. Should I or shouldn't I?

"I'm glad I didn't. Within hours of arriving in Sully my fears dissipated.

"The sheer dazzling brightness and warmth of the place lifted my spirits immediately; so bright was it that I found myself blinking unable to believe it. And the view from the second floor overlooking the sea was breathtakingly beautiful. Immediately I felt better.

"I had left behind a lonely, cold damp farmhouse outside Crickhowell. Now I was in a ward that bustling with life. And it was warm.

"Gone were the old sanatorium ways of treating TB with its emphasis on isolation and coldness with visitors once a month. Instead they were replaced with drugs, warmth and weekly visitors.

"I was to remain there for six months. And it remained a pivotal moment in my life, one that changed the course of my life for the better.

"But how did other people fare? What memories do others have? I have just finished a book on The Children of Craig-y-Nos - co-authored with Dr Carole Reeves of The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine - and it got me thinking about Sully.

"Has anything been written about our stories, our memories of time spent there? Nothing so far as I can find.

"So I am beginning the search for other people who may have spent time there, or had relatives who were there, with stories to tell.

"My story is written. Now I would like to hear other people's experiences with a view to publishing it either on the web, or if we have sufficient interest, as a print on demand book."



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