The decade from 1929-1939 was one of great hardship for many Australians. In this challenging environment in 1930 the decision was made to raise funds for a new children’s ward at the Ipswich Hospital.
In the days before social media, Queensland Times journalist Fred Ware, known to his many young readers as Uncle William, played a pivotal role in unifying and motivating the community behind this cause.
His young readers became members of the Sunshine League which, from 1919 onwards, raised funds for necessary items for the Ipswich Hospital. A decade later, Uncle William encouraged League members to take on the herculean task of raising funds for a much-needed children’s ward:
“… we have only to think of how it will help a sick child to get better in a fine new building erected by the loving labour of other children, his pals, to know something of the significance and influence that our new Sunshine Ward will shed on our little friends who go there to regain their health.”
After 4 years of tireless fundraising, the children of the Sunshine League together with the wider community had raised £3890, and a government grant of £5000 in 1933 enabled the Hospital Board to proceed.
A Brisbane firm’s tender was accepted in 1934 for the construction of this new ward which would “embrace all modern developments in design and layout, and … be one of the most up to date of its kind in the state.” The building would comprise “four spacious wards, all the necessary offices including operating theatre, and accommodation for nursing mothers.”
Endorsing the significance of their achievement, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, accepted an invitation to lay the foundation stone for the Sunshine Ward on 4 December, 1934 during his visit to Australia for Queen Victoria’s centenary celebrations. Read about the Prince’s visit to Ipswich Hospital to lay the Sunshine Ward foundation stone.
Finally, on July 28 1935, the dreams, hard work and dedication of Uncle William, the Sunshine League members and the citizens of Ipswich and surrounding areas, came to fruition with the opening of the Sunshine Ward by the Home Secretary Mr Hanlon.