|Sarah Hilda was born in May 1876 in Kilcool, a small village not far from Dublin. |
Not much is known about her family, as she emigrated to South Africa at a young age, before the turn of the century and made her way to Johannesburg, there she had to support herself - she used to claim that she started as a barmaid.
She married Major George Charles Fox and they moved to Cape Town where she continued to (for many years in Sea Point) after his death in 1935.
By means of shrewd and skillful investment, particularly in property, she had amassed a fortune of £ 160 000 (which in those days represented a considerable sum of money) by the time that she died at the age of 71, on 21 April 1948.
Throughout her lifetime, Mrs Fox continued to build upon the financial base that she had established in her early days in Johannesburg.
Mrs Fox had no children or close relatives and it was decided that a specific memorial to her should be created. They established the Sarah Hilda Fox Trust for this purpose.
In the late 1950's gastroenteritis and malnutrition were two major problems among the poorer section of the population in the peninsula. The vast majority of deaths from these causes occurred in infants under the age of two years.
We occupied two City Council cottages in Retreat known as the "Ralph Coates Home". Soon their were too many children to take care of and in 1961 the Sarah Hilda Fox Trust began looking for another venue to be used for the establishment of a "convalescent home for orphan or indigent children" as per the clause in her last will & testament.
In the same year the Cape Child Health Association was formed and registered as a welfare organisation.
In 1963 Dr Suckling started on the design of the new building which would be based in the Athlone area of Cape Town.
Building commenced in 1964 and was completed in 1965.
The staff and patients moved in May of 1965 and the building was called "Sarah Fox Home for Convalescents and Mothercraft".
The name was later changed to "The Sarah Fox Convalescent Hospital for Children".
In 1969 attention was drawn to the need for convalescent care for older children, particularly those suffering from extensive burns a second ward was planned in 1970 and completed in 1972.The first ward, which is occupied by babies up to the age of 2 years, was named after Councillor Doman, a prominent citizen of Athlone who took great interest in the hospital.Children from the age of 2 yrs to 12yrs occupy the second ward and this ward was named after Dr Isobel Robertson, one of the founder members of the Cape Child Health Association.
In 1985 the name of the home was changed to the "Sarah Fox Children's Convalescent Hospital.Sarah Fox Hospital admits children up to the age of 12. The purpose of the hospital is to provide the professional care that is often necessary to allow full recovery, once the critical stage of the child's disease or disorder has been treated.
Underprivileged families do not have the finance or the facilities to nurse their children after acute illnesses or burns. The Sarah Fox Hospital is an essential link in the treatment of children, breaking the cycle of recurrence of sometimes-fatal diseases.
The main conditions treated here include Tuberculosis, motor vehicle accidents, gastro-enteritis and the effects of malnutrition. The hospital also admits up to 64% of the burn cases after stabilisation at the Red Cross Hospital. Sadly, there has been a steady increase in the number of HIV/AIDS cases, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, rape and child abuse, as well as a greater number of abandoned babies.
Not all of our young patients are confined to their beds - many are active, playful and, at times, keen to learn.
We have a Nursery School within the hospital, which functions well with the help of very active volunteers. We have volunteers who assist us keeping our patients usefully busy, there is also a group who dress up as clowns and entertain the patients every Monday as well as outings they are invited to which allows a lot of spoiling and reminds them they are important and cared about.
The Hospital has filled a need for convalescent care and there is no doubt that this need will continue to be present and will grow with the expansion of the city.
2005 was a very special year for us as we are celebrated 40 years based in Athlone Cape Town. As long as the hospital can continue to get the exposure, financial support and volunteer assistance in all aspects I am positive that the legacy that Sarah Hilda Fox left for all the children to benefit from will continue to grow from strength to strength.
Sarah Fox is all about teamwork, without the children, the staff, the volunteers and donors like you who support the hospital our establishment will not function at all.