The John Stentiford Day Room
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Dr Brian Stentiford, who lives in Australia, is descended from the family of William and Elizabeth Stentiford who we found abandoned in Totnes Workhouse in Issue 52. His grandfather, Hedley James Stentiford, came to Torquay and set up as a butcher in the Ellacombe area. 


Huw Davies described in Issue 53 how his Grandfather, descended from the same family (William Charles Stentiford), briefly joined Hedley in this enterprise but did not settle and returned to Wales. The central character in this article - John Stentiford - was Hedley's son.


Brian Stentiford writes:


In 1940 - 41, my parents bought the post office in Cadewell lane, Torquay. The business also included a grocery and newspaper shop. Part of the newspaper rounds included delivery to the staff and patients in the nearby Torbay Hospital.


During the war (1939 - 1945) everyone was expected to help so I delivered papers before school and in the late afternoon. At weekends, I also went with my father to the hospital and sold papers to the patients in their beds. Perhaps you may remember the relatively large number of different papers that were available then. I almost developed a list to port from the weight of papers and magazines tucked under my left arm. The Maternity Ward was out of bounds and we had to ring a bell at the doors to get a nurse to take the papers to the Mums inside. I think the Private Ward was also off limits - (rather different to my recent personal experience where anyone seemed to wander in as they liked.)


My father, John Stentiford - called Jack by everyone - provided this paper service to the hospital until he retired and sold the business. He was also involved with the League of Friends of the Hospital. Every year, a Garden Party was held as part of their find raising. I remember it being  held in the grounds of the old Fever Hospital on Newton Road, opposite Cadewell Lane*. I do not think the grounds of the Torbay Hospital were suitable due to the marked slope.


In the immediate post-war years, things were tight but my father used to cajole or bully the various commercial travellers and representatives that came to the shop into bending regulations and finding all sort of prizes for raffles and competitions. One of the attractions was the visiting celebrity who would officially open the fete and meet the public. We still see the TV programme "Antiques Roadshow" in Australia and one of my father's favourite celebrities was from that show and helped as much as possible to make the Garden Party a success. I think too, that he always had a soft spot for Esther Ransome who was equally helpful.


My father's activities with the League of Friends were crowned on his retirement when, in recognition of all that he had done, the hospital named a day room after him. The John Stentiford Day Room was opened in 1983 as a tribute to his untiring efforts on behalf of the hospital's patients. My mother - Gertrude May Stentiford - died in the Spring of 1991; Jack Stentiford, my father, died in the Autumn of 1996.


I became a doctor and I often think of my daily paper deliveries around the wards as my first introduction to the world of medicine.


The opening of the John Stentiford Day Room in 1983

The opening of the John Stentiford Day Room in 1983

**My father, Jack Stentiford unveils the plaque while my mother, Gert Stentiford, looks on. On the far left is Mrs. Joan Williams one of the original founders of the Torbay Hospital League of Friends and an active President until her death some two years ago. Far right is Bill Glanfield who I think must have been the Chairman of the League at the time the presentation took place.

Courtesy of the Torbay Herald


* The building of Riviera Way has completely altered the road system described by Brian.


** We are grateful to Philip White of the current League of Friends for his assistance in identifying the people in this picture.


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Last modiied: 29/12/2007