Hospital and newspaper go a long way back

Just as Ipswich Hospital stopped using paper and went digital last year, The Queensland Times has stopped printing its newspaper to become a solely digital source of news. 

Sunshine Children's Ward 1935
Sunshine Children's Ward was built in 1935.

It’s a reminder that histories of Ipswich Hospital and The Queensland Times are deeply intertwined – with both institutions celebrating their 160th birthdays recently. 

West Moreton Health Chief Executive Dr Kerrie Freeman said so many Ipswich residents had strong links to both the hospital and the newspaper. 

“Many Ipswich citizens of a certain vintage would have been born at Ipswich Hospital and had their birth announced in The Queensland Times,” Dr Freeman said. 

“We go back a long way together. In fact, Ipswich Hospital wouldn’t have gained its first children’s ward were it not for an enterprising journalist on The Queensland Times.”  

The Sunshine Ward for Children was built in 1935 through the fundraising efforts of Ipswich children led by QT journalist Fred Ware. 

Ware created the Sunshine League for children in 1920 with the objective of “spreading sunshine into the lives of others”. 

Using the pen name “Uncle William”, Ware wrote a Saturday column for children who took on pen names like Blue Daisy and Prairie Cowboy when they signed up to the League. 

Ware encouraged his young readers to perform good deeds and collect donations for charitable causes. At first the hospital benefited from small donations from the League such as radios and cots, but by 1930 Ware had fixed his sights on a bigger project. 

Four years later, the children of the Sunshine League and the winder community had raised £3890 which was matched by a government grant of £5000 and work on the Sunshine Ward began. 

The foundation stone for the two-storey brick building with 44 beds and an operating theatre was laid in December 1934 by the Duke of Gloucester. 

When it opened a year later, a Queensland Times headline described the facility as “The Finest in Australia”. 

Ware eventually left journalism to take up dairy farming in NSW. After Ware’s death in 1957, Ipswich Hospital Superintendent Dr David Trumpy said “He and his Sunshine League, through ‘The Queensland Times’ did a splendid job in raising a big amount of money. His work was done without any desire for personal gain. He never wanted anyone to know who ‘Uncle William’ was.”