Ward 24 | The origin of the name of this non-group

The following piece was submitted by Jefferson Lillis, a Prince Henry resident and member of the non-group 'Ward 24'. Jefferson and his Ward 24 colleagues (non-colleagues?) meet at Little Bay Beach most Sundays for a swim followed by breakfast and a catch up at one of our local cafes.

Jefferson shares with us the origin of name of this non-group. He says, 'The non-club name 'Ward 24' stems from the following historical facts'.

Prince Henry Hospital as most know was located specifically to be away from the major populous areas of the growing Sydney. The hospital was well known as a place to treat those suffering from the many 'unknown diseases' of the day.

While it grew organically for many years, from basic tents and small wooden buildings, in the 1930s it was formalised and became the Prince Henry Hospital. On the east side of the ward that is now the Nursing and Medical Museum you will see a memorial to the opening and original concept of the hospital.

This original formal hospital at Little Bay was designed and built with 23 wards. As far as we can discern there was no psychiatric ward. In those days, generally the specialist wards were kept even more separate (the walled Callum Park etc). Prince Henry Hospital's psychiatric unit was added later we believe around the 1950s.

It was Roger Robison, one of the very core non-members of Ward 24 (now in the Philippines) that came across this fascinating evidence and presented to us the following thought process.

While Bob, Roger and I were swimming one chilly winter's day some walkers said to Roger that we must all be mad to be swimming that day. His thoughts went  from us being a little crazy, to the fact that no psychiatric unit existed in the original 23 ward hospital, so we became those that occupy Ward 24, the non-existent psychiatric ward of Prince Henry Hospital. The non-members are therefore know as the '24s'. It made perfect sense...well at least to us (but of course we're all mad anyway).

Roger being a very kind and thoughtful Christian faith preacher, was also made responsible for the weather, since he was able to communicate on a regular basis at that level.

Ward 24 also has a non-member named Steve, who frequents Little Bay Beach regularly throughout the year. His passion is to swim out to the second more open bay area of Little Bay, over the man-formed breakwater, and find warmer water.  Interestingly there is usually such a place due to the strange currents and water flows in and around Little Bay. Sometimes we feel it is up 2 to 3 degrees warmer from the close shallow waters of the inner-bay to the outer-bay. There is also an area in the southern part of the  larger bay, which is overlooked from the third green of the golf course, where the waters are always warmest. The non-members of Ward 24 have agreed to name this area 'Steve’s Spa'.