ANYONE living in Mearnskirk, like myself, in the past or at present could not have failed to notice the delightful bronze statue of Peter Pan in the grounds of Mearnskirk Hospital. Mearnskirk Hospital built in 1929 was originally a Sanatorium and was opened in 1930 for children under the age of 15 suffering from TB, which was rampant at that time. The building has been sold and is currently empty. Many have voiced their concerns regarding the fate of the statue as the building is now due for demolition.

Councillor Caroline Bamforth also has concerns for the future of the statue. She has contacted HBSGGC, who sold the building, as well as the new owners of the site, to ensure the statue would be preserved. She informs me that the new owners have agreed to store the statue before demolition begins and discussions are ongoing with East Renfrewshire Council, including planning and the local studies librarian, as well as the son of the original sculptor, Fred Ellesworth, who is an East Renfrewshire resident. Ideally the statue should remain in Mearnskirk.

Personally, I feel a small unoccupied piece of ground next to Hazeldene Nursery School opposite the old Mearnskirk Hospital would be perfect, and the councillor agrees with me, but to date no-one seems to know who owns the land. On the wall by the main door of the nursery school there is a bronze plaque depicting the characters in Scottish writer JM Barrie’s book, Peter Pan. Apparently there were originally four plaques round the plinth of the statue but only one was salvaged and it portrays Peter, Wendy, the boys and Tinker Bell flying to Neverland.

I think relocation of the statue with a small public garden round it would be a fitting reminder of the many young children who lost their lives to TB and other incurable infectious diseases. It would also be a tribute to the advances medical research has made in the field of public health in the past and in the future.

From the 1950s the BCG vaccine has virtually eradicated TB. Who remembers swallowing a cube of sugar with drops of Salk vaccine which meant the end of polio? I do and I still have the scar from smallpox vaccination on my arm. Whooping cough, diphtheria, rubella, mumps, measles etc, a thing of the past? Measles can have serious consequences for

the unprotected. Measles encephalitis can lead to serious long-term physical disabilities and even death.

I feel it is important we find a suitable location to re-erect the statue of Peter Pan as a reminder of its past and how lucky we are. My health visitor mantra was: prevention is better than cure.
Meg Kapasi
Health visitor (retired), Mearnskirk