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Letter - A. Barclay to The Alfred Hospital Burns Unit, Feb 2009 Document Reg. No: HT 26516 1

Letter for a patient in the Burns Unit of the The Alfred, a survivor of the February 2009 bushfires.

In the aftermath of Black Saturday, the newspapers were full of stories of people caught in the bushfires and of those caring for them. On February 15, The Age ran an article by journalist Jill Stark titled 'Hope and Healing' profiling the work of the Burns Unit at The Alfred. It opened with the story of an unidentified man, a resident of Kinglake West, who received burns to 40% of his body on 7 February 2009. The article describes the labourious and painful process of treating his extensive injuries, 'but there is worse pain to come.' His partner and two of their children died in Kinglake, and their third child died of her injuries four days later.

A. Barclay sent a brief note to the staff of the Burns Unit, asking them to pass on the enclosed card to the injured man. The message in the card read 'Your story touched me deeply. May this small token help you in some small way. Never give up.' and it contained a small semi-precious stone for courage. The patient survived his burns; he was in a medically induced coma for four weeks and sustained permanent damage to his feet as a result of trying to carry his children to safety.

Also included were a card in an envelope (HT 26516) and a small gift (HT 26516.2)
Letter on A5 paper lined in purple;
Statement Of Significance:
This was one of many gifts that were received by The Alfred hospital in the days following the bushfires of February 2009. People around the world responded to the crisis with donations of money and material aid but they also wanted to express personal messages of hope and support directly to the people involved. The Burns Unit, as one of the major hospital services receiving victims of the bushfires, was swamped with cards, letters and gifts not only for the patients but also for the staff of the Unit. This collection illustrates the power of the media in conveying the effects of the fires, but more importantly it demonstrates people's need to connect directly with the victims and their carers, regardless of whether they even know their names.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from The Alfred Hospital Burns Unit, 2010
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 210 mm (Height), 150 mm (Width)
Dimension Comment: dimensions of letter

More information

Tagged with: bushfires, greeting cards, emergency medical services
Themes this item is part of: Medicine in Society Collection, Sustainable Futures Collection, Victorian Bushfires Collection
Primary Classification: SUSTAINABILITY
Secondary Classification: Natural Disasters
Tertiary Classification: bushfires
Inscriptions: Letter, hand-written in black ink:
'It would be appreciated if you could give this card to the man featured in a story called "hope & healing" in the Age 15/2/09.
The man lost his family including 2 year old daughter at Kinglake.
Place & Date of Event: Kinglake, Victoria, Australia, 7 Feb 2009
Recipient: The Alfred Hospital Burns Unit, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Feb 2009
Place Used: The Alfred Hospital Burns Unit, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Feb 2009
References: Jill Stark, 'Hope and Healing', The Age Special Report, 15 Feb 2009, p 7.
The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission final report, p 261-62.

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