Centenary of conception for cherished town hospital

It is a milestone year for North Walsham’s War Memorial Hospital. For a century ago a public meeting sowed the seed for its creation.

The hospital’s Friends group is asking for public help in tracking down information about that historic first gathering.

And they are also using the 100th anniversary to recruit more members to carry on the tradition of community support for the much-loved health care unit.

The original hospital was opened in August 1924, but its conception was five years earlier – as the nation recovered from the pain and carnage of the Great War.

A meeting was held in 1919 to seek local people’s backing, and funding, for a “cottage” hospital. It aimed to care for the community’s sick and to remember the local soldiers who gave their lives in the war.

Records of the meeting are scarce for the Friends would like to hear from anyone with local history or family archives which might shed a bit more light on that vital first meeting.

Friends chairman Keith Jarvis said: “Our hospital was born through public support, and we are proud to carry on the tradition.

“Even though the hospital is run by a health trust, the extras we provide make a difference to the lives of patients, families, friends and staff. We are looking for new members to support our efforts – and have some fun and friendship along the way.

“And we hope there may be people out there who can help with our detective work in tracing more details of the public meeting that started it all.”

The foundation stone for the original hospital was laid on September 18 1919. The unit was opened in August 1924 by Princess Marie Louise. Today’s hospital, opened in 2012 after the original was demolished, is run by the Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust.

Thanks to continuing public donations the Friends pay for improvements and extras beyond the basic “health service” budgets – from a £22,000 revamp of the day room to Christmas gifts for patients.

To find out more about the friends and to make contact visit the website https://www.northwalshamhospitalfriends.org.uk/

The hospital opening in 1924 (PICTURE: North Walsham and District Community Archive)


Hospital Friends members in the revamped day room (PICTURE: Richard Batson)

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