Special remembrance service at North Walsham memorial hospital

A historic building block of North Walsham's war memorial hospital was rededicated today as the country stood still to remember the fallen.

The imposing stone was the focal point of the remembrance service at the town's redeveloped hospital as it was unveiled in its new position.

It originally sat amongst the bricks of the town's old hospital, which opened in 1924, but was carefully recovered from the now demolished building so it could become part of the new multi-million pound facility.

Campaigners have battled for several years to save the hospital, which was threatened with closure, and North Walsham will now become home to a state of the art 24-bed unit.

Brian Elliott, chairman of the hospital's League of Friends welcomed staff, dignitaries and members of the Royal British Legion to the service this morning, which began with a two minute silence.

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He said: 'I feel sure that our forefathers back in 1919 would be very, very proud of the community that's campaigned and succeeded in saving our hospital and having it replaced with a new state of the art facility.'

Major General Patrick Stone, president of the Norfolk division of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association, then unveiled the newly positioned memorial, before the service and laying of wreathes.

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Mr Elliott said: 'I wanted the stone for Armistice Day, I thought it would be very relevant. It's a very important day in the future and history of the hospital, it's a milestone if you like.'

George Cook, 85, was one of the key campaigners who helped spearhead the project to keep the hospital in the town; work he described as 'pay back' after the staff at the old facility saved his life at the age of two when he came down with a kidney disease.

The Grange Court resident was among the assembled guests at today's remembrance service and was delighted to see the stone in its new position.

'It's marvellous to see it done, this is the start of the finish,' he added. 'This is what the people of North Walsham have been up against, they never thought they would see the stone put in place in the new hospital. It's what I have been fighting for for six years.'

The original hospital was built after the First World War when a group of residents got together and organised an appeal to raise the money needed to build the facility. The foundation stone was laid in 1919 but the project was then delayed and was not completed until 1924, when Princess Marie Louise - a granddaughter of Queen Victoria - opened the hospital.

Remembrance services were also held today in Cromer, Mundesley and Stalham.

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