North Walsham hospital friends in need of new blood

North Walsham Hospital League of Friends chairman Brian Elliott and secretary/ treasurer Brian Black

North Walsham Hospital League of Friends chairman Brian Elliott and secretary/ treasurer Brian Blackburn who are calling for new members to take over key roles. Picture: Richard Batson - Credit: Richard Batson

A Friends group supporting a North Norfolk community hospital has put out a rallying call for new key officials to carry on its vital work.

Since it launched in 1949, the North Walsham War Memorial Hospital League of Friends has provided buildings, medical equipment, improvements and extras worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

It also played a key campaigning role in saving the unit during a community hospitals shake-up nearly a decade ago.

But its chairman for the past 36 years, Brian Elliott, fears its proud record could come to an end unless new members come forward to take on leading roles.

'Without the Friends, there might not be a hospital, and we have provided a lot of facilities that would not have otherwise have been funded. But the committee is getting old and we need younger people to take over otherwise we will have to fold.'

The Friends are keen to recruit a new chairman, treasurer and secretary ahead of an extraordinary general meeting being called for August 25 to discuss the crisis.

Mr Elliott, 82, aims to step down this year along with secretary and treasurer Brian Blackburn, 78, who has served for 31 years.

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During the past 10 years the Friends have given more than £370,000, buying everything from a suite of training rooms - thanks to a big legacy gift from Charles Dewing - to televisions, specialist mattresses and a wild flower meadow.

The revamped hospital now has 24 beds for post-operative, geriatrics and palliative patients, along with physiotherapy and social services.

Hospital chiefs have praised the work of the friends, with Gary Wiltshire, fundraising manager for the Norfolk Community Health and Care Charitable Fund, saying: 'It would be hard to over-estimate the benefits that the Friends have brought to the hospital and its patients, families and the wider community over the years.

'Not only is there the donations that have provided many important improvements in care and facilities, but the Friends provide a vital and supportive personal link between the hospital's staff and the local community.'

To help the friends contact Mr Elliott on 01692 405105 or email