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Felixstowe: Lottery grant given for Bartlet project

PUBLISHED: 18:45 22 November 2012

Dr Janet Massey, playwright  Susanne Hawkes and campaigner Michael Ninnmey celebrate gaining £10,000 of lottery cash for a project on Dr John Bartlet and his hospital.

Dr Janet Massey, playwright Susanne Hawkes and campaigner Michael Ninnmey celebrate gaining £10,000 of lottery cash for a project on Dr John Bartlet and his hospital.

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LOTTERY bosses have today given a £10,000 grant for a project to celebrate the life of one of Suffolk’s great visionaries.

The Bartlet

■ Creation of The Bartlet Hospital was Dr John Bartlet’s dying wish on May 27, 1917.

■ Born in Ipswich and educated at Ipswich School and London University, Dr Bartlet, whose father and grandfather had been surgeons, was firmly convinced people would get better far quicker if they were away from a busy hospital and, particularly women, not plunged straight back into a home environment.

■ He left £250,000 for purchase of land and construction of the hospital.

■ The hospital finally opened in 1926 on Felixstowe seafront on the site of Bath Hotel, destroyed by suffragettes, and an old Martello Tower.

■ The hospital closed in January 2008 – and since then has been standing empty, surrounded by metal fencing. It has permission for conversion to luxury flats.

The cash is being given to the Bartlet Bequest Action Group to honour Dr John Bartlet, the man whose bequest provided the Bartlet Hospital at Felixstowe as a revolutionary convalescent care centre for people in the east of the county.

The project will make an audio-visual record of his life and the hospital his dying wish created – showing how his far-sighted views on rehabilitation helped thousands to recover faster from illness.

It is proposed to record in sound and vision people’s memories, create a full historical record, an exhibition, and a drama by a top playwright.

Mike Ninnmey, of the action group, said the team were delighted to secure the funding as part of the Heritage Lottery All Our Stories project, inspired by historian Michael Wood’s BBC TV series The Great British Story – A People’s History.

“We are very fortunate to obtain the grant and our aim is to honour and celebrate Dr Bartlet and his great gift,” said Mr Ninnmey.

“We want to make the local and wider Suffolk community aware of the historical legacy of the Bartlet Convalescent Home, its place in the development of community health through rehabilitation, and the unique history of the building itself, by commissioning a drama production based on research or original documents and gathering oral history.”

The aim will be to launch the drama on Bartlet and his hospital – now closed and awaiting conversion to flats – at next year’s Heritage Open days festival, and then for it to tour other towns, too.

It is hoped writer Suzanne Hawkes, of Felixstowe, whose plays include acclaimed pieces on Wolsey and Giles, will write the drama.

■ To kick-start the project, the group is holding an open meeting on December 7, from 7pm to 9pm, at Broadway House, Orwell Road, to outline its plans and seek help from the public.

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