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Celebrating 100 years of North Walsham Hospital

Photo of nurse and patients at North Walsham Hospital in 1924

North Walsham Community Hospital celebrates with centennial garden party

North Walsham War Memorial Hospital, part of Norfolk Community Health & Care NHS Trust (NCH&C), celebrated its centenary with a special garden party last week. The event was supported by the site’s local charity, The Friends of North Walsham War Memorial Hospital.

The original North Walsham Hospital was built on the site for £4,000 in 1924 to honour the local men who lost their lives in the first world war, and to give something back to the community in their memory. Like many of our sites, North Walsham Hospital has gone through many changes and been part of several different NHS trusts. At one point there was a large children's and maternity unit at the hospital, so several colleagues who work at North Walsham today were actually born at the original hospital.The site became part of NCH&C when the trust was created in 2010, before being demolished and rebuilt to the current facility in 2012.

To celebrate the centenary, NCH&C staff past and present gathered with patients and members of the local community to reflect on 100 years of North Walsham Hospital. Guests enjoyed tea and cake in the hospital’s garden, as well as witnessing the burial of a time capsule. NCH&C colleagues were also gifted a commemorative badge to mark the event.

The time capsule contains items suggested by staff based at North Walsham, including photos of the team, medical supplies like dressings and COVID tests, thank you cards from patients, and trust communications like Weekly Messages, the Ward Newsletter, and menus for patient meals on offer this week.  The time capsule was gifted by the trust’s charity, NCH&C Charitable Fund, who provide items and services to support colleagues and patients that go above and beyond what can be provided through core NHS funding.

Helen Gwilliam
Helen Gwilliam, Housekeeper. Born at North Walsham Hospital.  

NCH&C’s Director of Nursing & Quality, Carolyn Fowler, shared her thoughts on what the centenary means to the trust and the local community:

“Not only is North Walsham one of our oldest sites, but it is also closely tied to its local community. We have several colleagues who have worked at North Walsham War Memorial Hospital for over 25 years, and four colleagues who were born here when the site operated as a maternity unit.”

“The garden party has been a wonderful opportunity to reflect on our trust’s rich history, and to connect with staff and patients based at North Walsham and to hear their stories. On behalf of NCH&C, I would like to thank the Friends of North Walsham War Memorial Hospital, and our own Charitable Fund, for their support with this very special event.”

Kerry Howarth, Ward Sister. Born at North Walsham Hospital.
Kerry Howarth, Ward Sister. Born at North Walsham Hospital. 

Karen Mitchell, Ward Manager at North Walsham War Memorial Hospital, said:

“Speaking to colleagues who work at North Walsham, many of them will tell you that it is a special place to work due to the close-knit team. Not only do many of the team have a personal connection to North Walsham and the hospital, but they are also all united by their desire to provide the best possible care for our patients.

“Spending time in hospital is never easy, so the garden party provided a vital morale boost to our patients, as well as recognising the hard work of our staff over the years. Burying the time capsule was a poignant moment reflecting both the origins of the hospital, and its future. We rely so much on our fabulous staff, so it is only fitting that they got to choose the contents of the time capsule and decide how best they want the hospital to be remembered to future generations.”

Sonia Draper, Healthcare Assistant. Born at North Walsham Hospital.
Sonia Draper, Healthcare Assistant. Born at North Walsham Hospital.

Keith Jarvis, Chair of the Friends of North Walsham War Memorial Hospital, said:

“The Friends of North Walsham was founded in 1949, with a long-term aim of linking together the local community and the much-loved hospital that provides care to its residents. Now 75 years on, the Friends continue to support the hospital through public donations, legacies, and money in lieu of flowers at funerals.

“Over the years, the Friends of North Walsham have gladly supported the hospital with many initiatives, including redecorating the day room, purchasing TVs for patients, and even laying a wildflower meadow at the front of the hospital, as well as supporting with Christmas trees and gifts each year. Most recently, the Friends have provided a coffee machine, which has proved very popular with staff, and daily newspapers for the patients. The Friends hope to continue this support for many years to come, as it is our way of saying thank you for all the hard work and care the NHS staff deliver at the hospital.”

North Walsham War Memorial Hospital is one of many sites operated by NCH&C. The trust provides community-based health and care in GP surgeries, patient homes, outpatient clinics, and its eleven community inpatient units, comprising 235 beds. Every day, NCH&C sees 1,516 patients at home, including 44 in ‘virtual wards’ where patients can receive extra support and monitoring in their own home.

Photos from the North Walsham event

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