Dec 1988: Sandra’s memories

Fainting drama as Princess Diana was about to open hospice

The kitchens were a hive of activity preparing for the arrival of Princess Diana to officially open Acorns Children’s Hospice when housekeeper Sandra Allen’s knife slipped. 

Blood gushed over her uniform from her cut finger – and Sandra, who had been cutting a French stick to top up the buffet, promptly fainted. 

A doctor among the trustees awaiting the Royal guest coolly stepped in and closed her wound with butterfly stitches.  Staff brought her round and cleaned her up, ready to meet the Princess with only minutes to spare. 

Sandra, aged 43, was just 18 in her first job when the drama happened.  She said:  “I fainted at the sight of all the blood and they had to lie me down. 

“We were minutes away from the Princess’ arrival.  It had been so hectic, with all the security checks and sniffer dogs going over the hospice. 

“They got me up and ready to meet her, and it was so special to me.  She commented on how lovely the hospice was.  We forgot everything when she came. 

“The first children began arriving soon afterwards, and it was very focussed working together, with everyone helping each other.  We got to know the children and families really well. 

“When I first arrived at Acorns, it was hard at first because we had no idea of what numbers of children we would be dealing with.  It was being built up from a shell, with no furniture – so I’ve been here longer than the fixtures and fittings.”