Ditchingham hospital celebrates staff achievement and new suite opening

THE people behind All Hallows Heathcare Trust have paid homage to its history and praised the wealth of people contributing to the hospital's future at the opening of its new suite.

On Tuesday staff and supporters of the trust attended the opening of the Gainsborough Suite. The completion of these three new rooms, brings the hospital, based in Ditchingham, back to its original 30 beds.

Lady Mary Gainsborough, wife of the late Earl of Gainsborough who was associated with the hospital for many years, unveiled the plaque stating she felt very 'humble'.

She added: 'We were married for 62 years and since his passing it is like there is a big gap in my life. It is rather nice to do something in his memory.'

The original Community of All Hallows was founded by Lavinia Crosse, the daughter of a Norwich surgeon, in 1855. She came to be known as Mother Lavinia and in 1872 set up the hospital in a cottage.

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Very soon the cottage proved to be too small and work began on the present building, which was opened a year later. The earliest records tell of treatments for burns from paraffin lamps and injuries from falls from carts and horses, and later for a short while there was a maternity unit and an operating theatre.

The Sisters from the Community have continued to care for the patients' and relatives' pastoral needs but today the Sisters are few in number and the hospital is staffed by a professional lay team.

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In 1994 the Community took over the operation of a 38 bedded residential home now known as All Hallows Nursing Home, in Bungay, providing long term nursing care with respite beds available.

In May 2007 it was announced that the Sisters from the Community were to promote an independent charity, and this would become the registered charity, All Hallows Healthcare Trust.

As well as reflecting on the rich history of the hospital, the team joined together on Tuesday for an NVQ and long service award ceremony at the nursing home.

Fifty employees received their Level 2 and 3 NVQs in either Health and Social Care, Professional Cookery or Diploma in Business Administration and a further 10 employees received long service awards, including physiotherapy assistant Doreen Howes.

Mrs Howes, 56, was born at the Ditchingham Hospital and has spent her entire working career at All Hallows after starting employment at 16. She said: 'When I first started here I didn't think I would still be here 40 years later. I started off as a nursing assistant and then moved to physio six years ago.

'When I first started work at the hospital it was run by the nuns then and we used to have babies and the maternity unit then. I think dealing with the babies used to be my favourite thing, as it used to be really special.

'We are a small hospital so it makes us like a family. My mum and dad are very proud of my long service achievement here, especially as my dad used to be an ambulance driver here and my mum used to help make teas.'

A new chairman of All Hallows Healthcare Trust was also appointed. Colin Pordham, who will continue to be involved with the Friends, handed the reigns over to John Randle.

Mr Randle said: 'I would really like to continue Colin's good work and really try to forge a stronger relationship with the NHS.'

n For more information about All Hallows Healthcare Trust, visit www.all-hallows.org.uk or call 01986 892728.

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