Thomas Guy Statue
Guy’s Statue. Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation
‘Lessons from debate on Statues’ and ‘End of year message’ CEO GSTTFoundation 2021
The Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation’s history is intertwined with Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust with which it continues to work in close partnership. Whilst the Foundation has continued to work closely with the Trust throughout the process, decisions on what action to pursue with statues rests with the Foundation as an independent organisation and owners of the statues.
No public donations to the NHS has or will be used for this work.
Following expert led historic research, independent consultation in line with best practice and advice from Historic England, the Foundation intends to implement the recommendations over time. Retain the statues of both Thomas Guy and Sir Robert Clayton in the public realm, move Guy’s statue to a less prominent position and provide fuller information explaining how both men made their wealth.
Heritage can be complex and polarising. For many people this will be a reasonable and balanced approach. For some it will go too far and others not far enough.
The statues of Guy and Clayton represent both important philanthropic figures and unacceptable sources of wealth. They are located near or on the grounds of one of the country’s most diverse employers in a part of London with the largest black population in the UK.
Hospitals need to be welcoming and inclusive places for everyone who uses them.
Progress has been made in understanding heritage and the impact of that legacy on health and healthcare today.
The pace of implementation will be dictated by planning legislation, political sentiment and the need to prioritise Covid 19 vaccination delivery on the site of Guy’s statue.
Legal advice indicates that an application for the relocation of Guy’s statue in the current climate is unlikely to succeed so the Foundation is not presently initiating one. Instead the focus will be on interpretation.
Statues are meaningful symbols, but there is a risk that the debate is taking up space that could be addressed to even more significant issues. The Foundation wants to keep its greatest energies focused on the biggest challenges for the organisation, tackling the unfair and avoidable differences in health in our society, inequalities that too frequently track to people’s ethnicity and left unaddressed, are to everyone’s disadvantage. Source-Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation website.