The day a real African lion came to KGH children’s ward

It’s a picture that will send the heart rate of modern-day health and safety chiefs through the roof.

Saturday, 14th December 2019, 9:22 am
Updated Saturday, 14th December 2019, 9:22 am
Ian is the child in bed behind the lion

But back in the mid-1940s, around the end of World War II, sick children on Kettering General Hospital’s children’s ward were comforted by a visit from the magnificent creature.

Ian Wade, aged about four, is pictured peering from his bed at the Lion as an older child is photographed with it.

The picture dates back to when the hospital’s children’s ward was located on the first floor of the newly built (1941) Cave Block.

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The ward had 25 beds divided across six rooms and was furnished by a Mrs AG Timpson as a gift in memory of her parents.

Father-of-two, Ian, now 78, from Kettering, said he thinks the picture was taken in around 1945, adding: “I think I was in hospital to have my tonsils out although I really can’t remember any more.

“We have speculated where the Lion came from – maybe from Wellingborough Zoo or a visiting circus, but we just don’t know.”

The Lion is pictured with a stout chain around his neck and a strategically place knee to keep him steady for the photograph.

If you have any idea who else is in this photo or know anything about it [email protected]