Final goodbye to Bartlet

PROTESTERS made one last gesture of defiance against the closure of the much-loved Bartlet Hospital as they marched through its grounds pushing a bed draped in funeral black.

PROTESTERS made one last gesture of defiance against the closure of the much-loved Bartlet Hospital as they marched through its grounds pushing a bed draped in funeral black.

The convalescent unit closes its doors this week with the opening of the Felixstowe Community Hospital following its £1.76 million refit.

To mark the end of the Bartlet, campaigners who tried to save it walked through the grounds with the hospital bed, some carrying placards and banners, one dressed as the grim reaper.

Earlier, a large crowd had gathered on Felixstowe prom below the hospital building for a poignant ceremony of thanksgiving for the Bartlet and its 82 years' service to the community - and to say farewell.

Leading the service, Rev Peter Leitch said it was right to give thanks but this was coupled with “very strong regret” at the loss of the building and the end of the era of convalescent care.

Roy Gray, chairman of the Save Our Hospitals Action Group, said the group was very disappointed to see the Bartlet axed but he thanked everyone who had supported the campaign and those who had worked so hard.

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He said: “We are very sorry to have to be here today - we did not want this hospital to close.”

Hymns were sung, accompanied by the Felixstowe Salvation Army Band, and between them there were prayers of thanks - led by Dr Janet Massey - for the management of the Bartlet, its doctors, registrars, nurses, gardening, pastoral and admin staff, and volunteers, and tributes paid to its founder Dr John Bartlet, and the hospital's history recalled.

Dr Bartlet believed people - women especially - needed to time to convalesce away from hospital, either the countryside or seaside, after a major operation before returning home to make sure they were strong and fully recovered.

Is convalescence care still needed today? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

FACTFILE: Bartlet

Creation of The Bartlet Hospital was Dr John Bartlet's dying wish in 1917.

Born in Ipswich and educated at Ipswich School and London University, Dr Bartlet, whose father and grandfather had been surgeons, was firmly convinced him 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, leaving it to the trustees of his will to decide the details.

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

Dr Bartlet, who was 86 when he died, was honorary surgeon and governor, served as mayor of Ipswich and a magistrate, and later president, of the East Suffolk and Ipswich Hospital.

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