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Hi Kym and Carmel,
Goodness knows if this will get to you, but I would love to connect. (And also to connect with anyone else who happens to read this!) My grandmother Ida May Short died at Willowburn in 1966. (I'm not sure when she arrived as she may have been in Goodna initially, but she was definitely there at the same time as Mavis and maybe as Frederick). I recently located her grave in the Toowoomba Drayton cemetery and am planning to visit it later this month. Sadly, she was separated from my mother, probably at birth, and they never met. Visiting her grave seems like the least I can do to honor her memory. I'm in the US but have an Australia trip planned and will tack on a side trip to Toowoomba.

Kym - you mention that you have your mum's medical records. Do you have any advice for me? I was told that they would not be disclosed for privacy reasons unless I lodged a "right to information" application citing a medical reason for needing to know (and family history was specifically mentioned as not a sufficient reason). I could go in to Baillie Henderson while I am there if you think an in-person enquiry would help. And Carmel, it sounds like you too have been in contact with Baillie Henderson staff. Any advice is welcome! It would be nice to at least know when she was admitted, where she was and to get any pictures or personal material in the file. Not sure I really need or want medical details.

By the way, if either of you would like me to take photos while I am there and send them to you, I would be happy to do so. Let me know if I can do that or anything else for you.

My best to you both,
Helen

PS. Carmel, I was struck by your comment that your husband's mum was a resident from age 18 until her death. When did she have her baby? Did she have a baby and then she was committed? I'm curious because my grandmother's insanity file starts in 1923 when she was 17 and I've been told that usually means that's when the person was institutionalized. But my mother was born in 1935!! I noticed in Helen Vellacott's "Memories of Willowburn" article on the site that a patient "Katie" became pregnant while at Willowburn. I wonder if something similar happened with my grandmother? I like to imagine that she had some mad romance or encounter like the one with the plumber that Helen Vellacott describes. At least that would have livened up her life a bit, and but for whatever happened I would not be here. It's probably not that happy a story, but I like to think that it's possible :-).

I am the creator of this site. I was the Library Manager for the Toowoomba District Health Service, of which Baillie Henderson Hospital was a part, for the 13 years between 2000 and 2012 when owing to drastic government cutbacks, I was made redundant.

I have a strong interest in mental health and in history as told through the stories of everyday people, as opposed to the rich and famous. For that reason I voluntarily put much time and effort into attempts to resurrect what was an old and neglected assortment of artefacts from previous eras. Unfortunately, although I had some success in a small way, and despite many appeals, the hospital administration and senior staff were completely uninterested in facilitating or helping with the work.

I did make some headway in terms of re-organising and sorting the artefacts and moving them into more satisfactory accommodation. I also collected together all old records that I could find and organised them in secure storage. I also created an indexed database of all patients of the hospital from its inception through to 1985, after which records were computerised. I did this work on my own initiative and in my own time. I also used my own resources.

As part of the process I produced various terms of reference, policy and such for the Museum and a document outlining how information might be made available to relatives of past patients. I submitted that to the Health Information Services Director who is responsible for overseeing such matters, and also copied it to various senior hospital staff including the District CEO and the Executive Director of Mental Health. Unfortunately, again I got no response other than acknowledgment of its receipt and a note that it would be "looked at". From memory, I submitted this around 12 months or more before I was actually made redundant.

Whilst I was employed by and working with the Health Service I conducted tours of the museum until we had to stop those because of the unsafe nature of the museum building which had been allowed to dilapidate. I also offered and conducted, by mutual arrangement, presentations to groups of people interested in the museum history and these were well received by the community. Indeed, as some of those who have contacted this site have indicated, there is strong community interest in the history of the institution and a desire by many for details of their relative's time there. Another part of what I did was to establish this site and a sister site dealing with Toowoomba and Darling Downs history more generally, but including some medical information. This site is at: downsfolk.wikidot.com

Before finishing at the hospital I contacted both the Executive Director of Mental Health Services and the District CEO and offered to continue to care for the museum in a voluntary capacity and also made some suggestions of how communication and presentation to the community could be facilitated. I received not even an acknowledgment.

After 13 years with the Health Service here and many attempts to obtain some interest and support from those with the power to preserve and promote this valuable history, I now realise that there was never any will or interest to do so. In spite of the many hours of thought, work, and effort that I, and on occasion, a literal handful of others, put voluntarily into attempting to salvage what was essentially a part of history left to rot; I got as good as no support whatsoever from the Hospital Executive. The only occasions in which they were interested were when there was a "photo opportunity" for them.

The result is that, because of severe depression since my redundancy together with the lack of interest, even hostility, of the Hospital management to my work whilst with the Health Service, I have had no contact with them over the last 12 months.

I am however, prepared to make an approach to them, once more, to see whether anything has been done since my leaving - which I doubt very much - and, if not, whether they are willing to allow me access to do more work and respond to request such as some of you have made.

The alternative is that you contact the Health Service directly and see what sort of response you get.

I am sorry that I am unable to do more right now. I find it very disturbing that this is the case but I am just a little nobody and have no power or authority to do anything unless the Hospital administration allow it.

Lastly, I would just like to offer my apologies that a response to you has taken so long. My last year with the Health Service and the time since has been plagued by both physical illness, family problems, the suicide of a close friend's son, and chronic depression. As a result, I have had little time or presence of mind to devote to the site or matters relating to the Hospital. My sincere apologies that you are frustrated at obtaining some mementos or information about the experiences of your relatives.

roger

Hello Kim Smile,
My name is Carmel Clayton.
This site is such a wonderful surprise to us, so special to read such historic details of Willowburn/Bailee Henderson to help us with connections of my Mum-in-Law's life.
I see you have requested any pictures from a similar timeline when my Husband's Mum, Mavis Clayton, was a resident, too. Mavis was a resident from 1943 (18yrs) until she passed in 1992.
We have never been offered any pics or social event details from the BHH staff either but would love anything that may be related to a happy party or special event that she participated in during her long life as a resident. We, like our children and grandchildren, can only wish that there were special times and parties for the residents and would be so appreciative of any images of her in her youth.
Cheers
Carmel

Seeking photos of jack whilst working at Willowburn after WW1. Jack was one of 5 brothers who served in WW1 fro Pechey, Crows Nest Line. he was a policeman before going to war, then after marrying was engineer at Willowburn, I am researching family history and as they had no children was hoping someone may have a photo of him and wife Ede????

many thanks
Louise

I am looking for old photos of a family member Frederick McIntyre who lived at Baillie Henderson from 1932 till his passing in 1963. Although I have his medical records this does not fill a void that a family has because of institutionalism. I am a retired nurse and I have photos of aged care residents that where cared for in public hospitals I worked in from parties and yearly celebrations we did for residents. Surely there is someone out there that can help me with my search. Photos of any subjects from the hospital would benefit family members who never had the chance to meet their relative. Hope someone out there has some memories even better some photos of clients and staff. I don't really care if nobody knows who is in the photos I am just after visual memories that have feeling. The photos of the museum on this site are great but they are staged and lack that feeling you get when you look at family photos. Our relatives where people and I wish my relative was living in today's society because he would be at home and part of my family.

Cheers Kym