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Beccles Hospital celebrates its 100th anniversary

Beccles Hospital marked its centenary with a special exhibition celebrating its past and future and visit from the great granddaughter of the gentleman who donated the land for the hospital.

Anne Wincott was invited to the event along with Waveney MP Peter Aldous and the town’s mayor, Cllr Christine Wheeler. The hospital’s League of Friends also attended, as well as representatives from East Coast Community Healthcare (ECCH), which runs the hospital, and Beccles Medical Centre, which shares the site.

A display of historical photographs, books and artefacts informed visitors of the role the hospital has had in the community and how it has adapted and changed over the years.

Anne, who opened the exhibition and unveiled a new commemorative plaque, said, “It’s an honour to be here to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the hospital on behalf of the Elliott family. My great grandfather would be very proud of all that’s been achieved over the years.”

The hospital opened in 1924 having cost £12,000 to build. The town’s residents had donated £7,000 following an appeal and this was boosted by a gift from Alexander Elliott of a stretch of land between St Mary's Road and Priory Road, which is still the site of the hospital today.

When the hospital was opened by Major-General Sir Anthony Bowlby, commanding officer of the 54th East Anglian Division, it had 24 beds and for many years boasted its own operating theatre.

Former matron and League of Friends trustee, Pam Hardman, from Worlingham, joined the hospital as a staff nurse in 1960. She said, “"I have very happy memories over the years. When I started it was just the old building and we had an operating theatre where we used to do operations. We gave a good service to the town and to the people of Beccles. Today’s celebration has been amazing and it’s nice to have Anne here to represent the Elliott family."

In 2017 £1.65 million was spent transforming the hospital into an intermediate care unit with in-patient facilities for those requiring medical care but not needing acute support in a general hospital. A new day room was created at the same time, thanks to the League of Friends.

Since 2019 ECCH has provided a specialist palliative care service on Minsmere Ward in partnership with St Elizabeth Hospice, and in 2022 the ward replaced traditional paper patient records with a pioneering digital monitoring system linked directly to patients’ GPs, ensuring that the ward is at the forefront of modern medical care.

Adele Madin, Executive Director of Operations at ECCH, said, “As well as celebrating all the wonderful things that have happened here and the good care that’s been delivered over the years, this is also an opportunity to celebrate the future. We know that, with digital technology and advances in medicine, the future of the hospital is strong. We will continue to innovate and to evolve what we do to ensure that patients receive the highest quality care in their communities as close to their homes as possible.”

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ECCH Communications team

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