Towns place of care and support marks 90th anniversary

Beccles War Memorial hospital. Beccles War Memorial hospital.

Thursday, September 4, 2014
2:00 PM

Beccles War Memorial Hospital is 90 years old this year.

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Beccles War Memorial Hospital is opened in 1924.Beccles War Memorial Hospital is opened in 1924.

Since it opened in 1924, the hospital has served the people of Beccles, providing care for the sick and dying and their relatives through the generations.

To mark this occasion the Friends of Beccles Hospital and the hospital and health centre staff are inviting everyone to a 90th birthday celebration on Sunday, October 5, at 3pm at St Michael’s Church.

The service will be led by the Rev Canon John Beauchamp, rector at St Michael’s.

He said: “90 years ago my predecessor along with the Bishop of the Diocese said prayers of dedication for the hospital.”

“It is wonderful to be able to be here 90 years later to celebrate both the legacy and the place of the hospital in the life of the town today.

“It remains a place of care and support that has been greatly valued by every generation over the past 90 years.

“Come and join us as we celebrate the hospital’s story and its present and future place in the town.”

In the 1880s a hospital had been built for the people of Beccles in Fair Close. This served the town across the turn of the century but by 1914 those involved in local health care were beginning to suggest that the town really needed a new, more modern hospital.

In May 1914 Dr Henry Woodhill wrote to the East Suffolk Gazette making this suggestion but the years of the First World War curtailed the plans.

However, as the war came to an end in 1918, the town was keen to do something special to mark the contribution of the many servicemen and women who had been killed or injured in the conflict.

A new hospital seemed to be a fitting tribute and in January 1919 the then mayor, Mr Johnson-Hinds, called a public meeting where a resolve 
was expressed to honour the war dead by building a new hospital for the town.

This was to be a 24-bed hospital and would cost £12,000 to build. An appeal was launched and the town responded magnificently, donating £7,000 in a very short period of 
time.

The project was given a great boost when Mr Alexander Elliott donated a meadow between St Mary’s Road and Priory Road for the new hospital site. This was ideal – being so close to the town. Of course it is still the site of the hospital and Medical Centre today.

The hospital was opened by Major-General Sir Anthony Bowlby who was commanding officer of the 54th East Anglian Division.

He told the town that a more fitting memorial to the war dead and injured could not have been provided.

“As we mark the centenary of the years of the First World War it is important to remember that Beccles Hospital was the response of the people of the town to the great sacrifice made by so many,” said Mr Beauchamp.

“It is a response that has had a lasting legacy for good in the town and something we should celebrate and give thanks for with all of our hearts.”

Gordon Knights, chairman of the Friends of Beccles Hospital, said: “I have spent over 20 years as a Friend of Beccles Hospital, the past 12 of which have been as chairman of the trustees.

“We are thrilled that the local health service have shown the confidence to invest heavily in the site of the hospital and its facilities and should ensure us all of a very confident future for our local health provisions. We thank you for your support and hope you will be able to join us at St Michael’s for this service of celebration and thanksgiving.”

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