New hospital gets thumbs up

FAMILY of the man who built Felixstowe's hospital have today given their approval to its £1.76 million transformation into a modern medical centre for the whole community.

FAMILY of the man who built Felixstowe's hospital have today given their approval to its £1.76 million transformation into a modern medical centre for the whole community.

It was a day of celebration as VIP guests gathered for the official opening of the new Felixstowe Community Hospital by Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer.

As Mr Gummer cut the ribbon, protesters waved placards - refusing to give up their fight for a medical use to be found for the now-closed Bartlet Hospital.

For the Croydon family - whose ancestor Charles Croydon built the hospital - it was an extra special day as they were able to see the changes first-hand, and felt the founder would have thoroughly approved of the work.

“I think it's beautiful - really excellent,” said Mr Croydon's grand-daughter, Noreen Croydon, who lives not far from the hospital in Constable Road.

“I am very impressed and really like the way it has been modernised but you can still see the old traditional features, too.”

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Outside, one of the original footstones, found lying face down in overgrowth, has been restored and put in place in a new garden area to which the Croydon family is donating £10,000.

The stone's engraving announces the Croydon Cottage Hospital for the people of Felixstowe and Walton, 1910.

Inside the hospital, all the guests, staff and patients were thrilled with the refurbishment.

Patient Jean Williams, sitting in the new day room, said: “It's really lovely. The Bartlet was a special place but this is lovely, too.

“I came as an outpatient to the old Felixstowe General but now the building is unrecognisable. They have done very well.”

Alastair McWhirter, chairman of Suffolk Primary Care Trust's board, said: “I think it has been very imaginatively done. It is much harder to refurbish an old building than to build a new one and I think the people of Felixstowe will be delighted with it.”

Also during the morning, the new children's minor injuries unit was officially opened by Evening Star editor Nigel Pickover.

The money for the area was raised by The Evening Star's Helping the Children appeal.

“This area has been beautifully done and will be a great benefit to families bringing their children here for treatment, helping to make the little ones relaxed in a very friendly environment,” he said.

Blue footprints lead the children from reception through a blue gate to the new colourfully-decorated area.

Children from Fairfield Infants and Trimley St Martin Primary Schools provided the inspiration for the murals, working with artist Louise Greenwood. She then enlisted the help of A-level art students at Deben High School, who helped complete the designs.

The designs feature a seaside scene in the waiting area and a jungle with exotic animals in the treatment room.

Two of the students involved, Hannah Rowe and Sophie Boleyn, attended the opening.

Do you feel Felixstowe now has adequate health services for the 21st century? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

FASTFACTS: Helping the Children Appeal

The appeal at Christmas 2004 raised £18,000 to provide a children's minor injuries unit waiting area and treatment rooms as part of the hospital refurbishment project.

There was huge support from the community with fundraising events, donations by businesses and money from the Star's annual carol service and Christmas tree fund.

Singers Sir Cliff Richard and Marty Wilde autographed two books on the history of the Regent theatre which were auctioned off as part of the fundraising.

Organisations which gave support included the League of Friends of Felixstowe Hospitals, the Port of Felixstowe, businessman Graeme Kalbraier, Ipswich and Norwich Co-operative Society, and the PCT.

FASTFACTS: Felixstowe Community Hospital

The newly refurbished hospital has 16 beds, minor injuries unit, x-ray department, minor operations suite, and a variety of clinics.

There is a new day room and dining area, lift, and reception.

Upstairs there is a muscular-skeletal clinic suite, physio gym, plus offices for the community care teams.

Wards range from one-bed to five-bed and are named with Felixstowe connections - Trinity, Kingsfleet, Brackenbury, The Grove, Ferry, Trinity, Walton and Cavendish.