|Evening Telegraph, 31st January, 1949, transcribed by Kay Collins
Rushden Has Done a 'Great Job'
Gift of Hospital to the Nation
"You need have no fear regarding the future of this hospital; it is here to do the work that you desire to be done." With this assurance from the Ministry of Health's representative, the large house which Rushden has purchased as its war memorial Home Hospital was on Saturday afternoon dedicated and handed over as part of the National Health Service. Relatives of the 138 men, women and children whose names appear on the memorial panel were among the large crowd which faced the building when, alter the singing of "O God, our help in ages past," Sir John Brown. K.C.B., D.S.O., the architect who has supervised the alterations, handed a silver key to Mr. J. H. J. Paragreen, Chairman of Rushden Urban Council.
"I know how the people of Rushden have looked forward to this opening," said Sir John. "I know they would have liked much more work to be done to the building; but here is a start."
Welcoming the townspeople and visitors, Coun. Paragreen spoke of the hospital as a worthy offering by the residents to commemorate those who lost their lives in the Second World War.
"It is a gift from the town to the nation," he said, "but it will still be for the benefit of Rushden and district residents."
Unlocking the main door, Mr. Paragreen expressed the hope that "all who come here as patients will live to bless the day that Rushden townspeople made such excellent provision for health and well-being."
Relatives of the fallen were then invited to enter the hospital and stand in the hall near the large bronze plaque of handsome design, on which the names are inscribed.
An act of remembrance With responses from the people, was led by the Rector of St. Mary's (the Rev, E. A Green), and a Union Jack which veiled the panel was removed by Mr. Don Chamberlain, president of the Rushden branch of the British Legion.
"I unveil this plaque," said Mr. Chamberlain, "with humility and reverence on behalf of the inhabitants of Rushden and local branch of the British Legion to perpetuate the memory of all those who gave their lives for freedom in the World War 19391945. May this hospital, freely given by the people of Rushden in their memory, prove a blessing to all those who have need of its services." Many were in tears as the Last Post and Reveille were played by a bandsman stationed near the door.
An act of dedication for "this House of Healing," with prayers for those who will staff the hospital, was conduced by the Rev. R. Percival Jones, minister of Park Road Baptist Church, and the second hymn was "From Thee all skill and science flow," the ceremony closing with the National Anthem.
A section of Rushden Salvation Army band accompanied the singing and the bugle calls were played by Mr. J. O. Wildman.
The house and grounds were thrown open for inspection, and hundreds of people crowded into the building. They found that the £1,000 which the Government has allowed to be spent on adapation has been devoted mainly to the lower rooms, some of which contain the physiotherapy apparatus recently transferred from the old Cottage Hospital in Griffith St. Clinical work had been in progress during the week.
Coun. Paragreen and his wife entertained the committee and visitors to tea, and then in one of the upper rooms, the ceremony of presenting the deeds went forward
Presiding as chairman of the committee which has handled the scheme. Coun. A. H. Bailey thanked all who had contributed to the project.
"It amounts to saying, 'Thank you Rushden' " he observed, "because I am certain there is scarcely an individual or organisation that has not contributed In some way to the establishment of the hospital."
Mr. Bailey traced the history of the scheme to January. 1944, when members of the Trades Council and Rushden Hospital Fund met to discuss the need for a local hospital or clinic. The ultimate appeal, he explained, was made jointly with the Northampton Hospital War Memorial Appeal, with a total target of £20,000.
Of the many difficulties which had to be overcome, that of obtaining permits from the various Ministries was the greatest. The hospital was now to be taken over as part of the National Health Service, but in Dr. Greenfield and Mr. George Marriott the town would have two splendid representatives on the House Committee.
Mr. John White spoke as chairman of the Joint Appeal Committee when he thanked all who had supported him in the raising of the money.
"It is hardly likely," he declared, "that without this appeal being made Rushden would ever have had a hospital of its own."
Referring to the complications which had arisen from knowledge that the hospital would eventually be taken over by the Government, Mr. White said: 'Whatever form of Government we had, this would undoubtedly have been the case, and I think it would be a very foolish person indeed who would think this could not have happened or that hospitals could carry on, trusting for their very existence upon income from purely chartable sources. I have no doubt that in the long run this change will prove to be for the best, as, of all social services, surely hospitals and health services should be the last to suffer from lack of funds to enable them to improve and give of their best."
Representing the works employees who had contributed systematically to the fund, Mr. Ernest Panter expressed appreciation of the scheme and of the work which had been put in by the committee. He urged that in addition to rehousing the Griffith Street equipment, the hospital should provide new amenities, especially X-ray facilities and the visit of consultants at least once per week, so that Rushden people would be spared visits to Northampton and the long waiting periods.
"I speak," he added, "for 6,500 employees who contributed £11,000 to the joint funds through their weekly wage packets".
Mr. W. H. Imison (treasurer) said that three and a half years ago Rushden set itself the task of raising £20,000, and the total raised was £21,320. The building was purchased for £5,000, and £1,000 had been spent on conversion.
"It has definitely been a peoples' effort," said Mr. Imi-son, who paid tribute to the work of Miss D. E. Robinson (Joint secretary), Mr. Minney (the caretaker), and the Press "from 'Mister Cobbler' downwards," saying that the Press had often acted as a spur to progress.
Introduced as "the real father of the Rushden Home Hospital scheme," Dr. D. G. Greenfield said that on the advice of a senior officer of the Ministry of Health the committee first contemplated a hospital with from 15 to 20 beds. That plan was abandoned because of the staffing problem, but members of the Oxford Regional Hospital Board had said that in the near future it might be possible to run an out-patient department under the supervision of specialists from Northampton Hospital. The town's representatives would do everything they could to see that Rushden's wishes were eventually carried out and that in years to come the premises served the purpose for which they were originally intended.
Mr. Walter C. Tarry, donor of the physio-therapy equipment which has been transferred from Griffith Street, was thanked for his generous gift.
Invited to speak, Mr. Tarry recalled that when the first penny-a-week scheme was launched in the town it was hoped there would be a hospital one day. The committee, he said, made a very shrewd and wise choice when they bought the Hayway building, and he was glad to know that the electrical equipment was proving so useful. The idea behind its provision was to save difficult journeys to Northampton and expense that some could ill afford.
The deeds of the house were produced by Mr. A. Norman Groome and handed by Dr. Greenfield to Mr. A. M. Lee. Chairman of Kettering and District Area Management Committee, who said that Rushden had done "a great job."
Mr. J. M. Bailey. M.C., M.B.E., thanked the Chairman.
Among those attending the meeting was Aid. H. R. Patenall, Chairman of the House Committee. The Mayor of Higham Ferrers (Coun. P. O. Felce) attended the earlier dedication ceremony.
Coun. W. E. Capon (Joint secretary) look charge of the day’s arrangements.