Sometimes being in the Rolls-Royce hometown of Chichester in West Sussex has its perks. The British marque commissioned, in 2017, a special project that would brighten the lives of children at St Richard’s Hospital Pediatric Day Surgery Unit for years to come: a pint-sized, fully-detailed and operational Rolls, powered by a 24v gel battery and capable of a top speed of 16kmh.
Christened the Rolls-Royce SRH (for the hospital), the miniature was built to allow children due in the operating theatre to drive themselves there, guided by faux traffic signs placed along the hospital corridors. The grand aim? To help reduce the anxiety and apprehension these children feel before an impending operation.
The usual rules of excellence applied to the SRH: think details such as a hand-applied coachline, a self-righting steering wheel (two-tone, it was added) and a custom treadplate. The project took the RR Bespoke Manufacturing team over 400 hours of development, and required the use of contemporary technologies such as 3D printing.
Marianne Griffiths, the chief executive of Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Just like the joy it will bring to our young patients, the Rolls-Royce SRH is simply priceless. It is a very special gift and one of the most wonderful donations ever received by Love Your Hospital, our trust’s dedicated charity.”
The car has since completed a year of service and ferried over 300 children safely to their destinations – all while maintaining a fault-free record. Not entirely a surprise, having come from one of the stateliest names in motoring, but impressive nevertheless.
Sue Nicholls, pediatric matron at the hospital, said: “Rather than being anxious about their upcoming procedure, our young patients are positively distracted by the fun experience of negotiating the corridors to theatre in a car they can drive all by themselves.
“We’ve also noticed that Dads especially love to admire the engineering and design specification and often ask for a turn!”