“My prayers have been answered”

Communications TeamNews

Small clay nativity scene on display on a white table by a stained glass window.

Missing nativity scene is found and returned to hospital staff

A 49-year-old nativity scene taken from the Haven at Hull Royal Infirmary before Christmas has been returned.

The 16-piece nativity scene, a one-off set made entirely from clay, was purchased by Senior Site Chaplain, Allison Cline-Dean more than 49 years ago when she lived in Canada.

Chaplain in black fleece stands in garden holding a box containing clay nativity scene pieces

Senior Site Chaplain, Allison Cline-Dean, is delighted to have had her nativity scene returned

The nativity scene was put on display in the Haven at Hull Royal Infirmary for visitors to enjoy, but disappeared on the final weekend before Christmas. Chaplaincy staff believed it to have been mistaken for a donation and taken in error.

But despite a social media appeal before Christmas for its safe return, shared over 700 times on the hospital’s facebook page alone, there was no news, until earlier today when a gentleman walked into the hospital reception with a very special delivery.

Caryl Allen works in the patient administration team at Hull Royal Infirmary’s main reception. She says:

“I was covering reception and a gentleman came to the window with a bag in his hand, and told me he had something that he thought belonged to us. I wondered what it could be, it could have been anything, so I asked him to step to the side of reception and discreetly tell me what it was.

“When he told me it was the nativity, I was shocked, and I said, I know someone who’s going to be ever so pleased!”

The gentleman told how he was helping his daughter who had recently moved house, and while clearing up at the back of the west Hull property, came across the box in a pile of rubbish. She opened the box, and showed her dad and her friend the contents, and her friend immediately recognised it from the Trust’s social media appeal.

“I think it’s disgusting that anyone could have taken it”, said the gentleman, “so I offered to return it to the hospital. I’m just pleased that they’ve got it back.”

Caryl accompanied the gentleman, who has asked to remain unnamed, up to the Haven so he could return the nativity scene to the Chaplains in person. Sadly, Allison wasn’t there, so he simply left the bag, containing all 16 pieces, undamaged and still in the original box, with Caryl to pass on.

“I called Allison and asked if she was on site, and she said yes. As soon as I said I had something for her, I could tell in her voice that she knew what I meant, we were both overwhelmed.”

Within minutes, Allison had hot-footed it over to the hospital reception to collect her nativity scene.

“I’d been praying every day since it went missing for its safe return,” she says. “I’d just gotten to the point where I thought I wasn’t getting it back, so I’d said a prayer for whoever did have it now, that it brought them as much joy as it brought me over the years. And then I got the call from Caryl and I was elated.

“Every single piece is here, in the original box, with no damage at all, just as I’d last seen them. I’m so grateful to the gentleman and his family who found and returned it. My prayers have been answered, it’s truly wonderful.”