Outdoor Activities

The importance of spending time outdoors and feeling the benefit of the fresh country air and natural sunlight was stressed in all activities at Stannington. There is evidence in the records we have of children having school lessons, resting, and playing games in the sun and often wearing as little as possible to expose their whole body to the sun. It was also important that the children were kept entertained and there a photographs showing them putting, taking part in sports day, in a percussion band, and playing childhood games.

However, spending time outdoors was not restricted to days when the weather was nice, which as we all know is not always reliable in the North East of England. Even in the winter when it was bitterly cold the children might be taken outside for walks or rest outside with blankets to keep them warm. As long as there was no rain or extreme wind there was seen to be no reason why they couldn't spend some time out of doors. At times when the weather was particularly inclement the buildings were designed in such a way that children could either be wheeled out onto sheltered verandahs or the large windows could be opened to allow the fresh air to circulate.

Eleanor Henderson, a patient during the 1940s, remembers some of the funnier sides of being left exposed to the elements:

"The doors were always open, and you were pushed out every day in your beds all along the veranda. Not if it was raining ...But sometimes when you woke up in the morning there was a bat hanging on the end of the, we had red wirelesses in the corner of the ward, and there was a bat hanging on there or a hedgehog in the middle of the floor. We had a cow in once, just once. And I thought 'what's going to come in my bed'."


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