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Yesterday Verrington - Today Wincanton Community Hospital

Friday 17 September 2010, 17:15
By John Baxter

The sun was shining on Saturday as several hundred local people turned out to celebrate the centenary of what started as an isolation hospital on the edge of town for those suffering TB, Diphtheria and Scarlet Fever. Now, freshly refurbished and the only hospital for miles around everyone is agreed that this is a good time to rename it Wincanton Community Hospital.

Wincanton Community Hospital night staff

Organised by the Friends of the Hospital the grounds were bedecked with balloons and bunting and there was a profusion of stalls selling a variety of goods run by outside stallholders, friends and off duty staff.

Breaking crockery

Children and the young at heart queued to smash crockery at one stall. (I kid you not!) There was food to eat, music to hear from the Wincanton Silver Band, belly dancers and a fine performance from the Cary Cygnet's. As a result over £3,000 was raised.

Castle Cary Cygnets cheerleading squad

First in the foyer, and then outside by the hospital entrance a metal plaque was unveiled and then the new signage on the notice board.

Unveiling of the plaque

Speeches were by the Matron, Claire Andrews, the Mayor, Richard D'Arcy and the Director of Nursing and Patient Safety Mary Monnington, representing the Primary Care Trust. They all remembered the past and those who have worked long and hard here, gave thanks for the generosity and foresight of those who have supported the hospital and congratulated everyone involved in the hospital's refurbishment and who works in it today.

The Mayor representing the town unveiled the new name and standing by representing the County as a whole was the deputy to the Lord Lieutenant of Somerset, Major General Ray Pett. Also prominent was Mo Mahoney, Chairman of the Friends, the Chairman of South Somerset District Council Ian Martin and the Leader of SSDC Tim Carroll. Beavering away organising things in the background was Alan Judd, Secretary of the Friends and many other Friends.

Chief Nursing Officer
Mr. Paddy Mulhall former Chief Nursing Officer
Former Matron
Mrs. Pauline Woodward former Matron
Mary Monnington representing the Primary Care Trust
Mary Monnington representing the Primary Care Trust
Major General Ray Pett, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Somerset
Major General Ray Pett,
Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Somerset

Dr. Bob Jones and Mr. Paddy MulhallInvited by the Friends to an excellent lunch they had prepared was Dr Bob Jones who worked at the hospital for many years seen here with Mr Paddy Mulhall who worked here for 37years and had been the chief Nursing Officer. Also preent was Dr Marc Fellows who leads the Wincanton practice and Mrs Pauline Woodward who had been Matron for 6 years and Mrs Jill Carswell who had been medical receptionist in Wincanton for many years and whose grandmother had been the first Matron, a post she had held for 40years! Representing her husband Dr Butler was his widow Mrs Butler and her daughter Caroline Lawson who is now the nurse in charge of the Stroke Unit in Yeovil.

VIPs out by the sign

The VIPs. Major-General Ray Pett, Ms Mary Monnington, Matron Claire Andrews, Mrs Gill D'Arcy, Mayor Richard D'Arcy, Counsellor Tim Carrol, Mrs Martin and Counsellor Ian Martin, Dr Marc Fellows, Mr Mo Mahoney.

The Mayor and Mayoress of Wincanton, Gill and Richard D'Arcy

The Mayor and Mayoress of Wincanton, Gill and Richard D'Arcy in front of the commemorative plaque showing the new name. What follows is Richard D'Arcy's speech.

Photos & article by John Baxter




I thank the friends of Verrington Hospital for their kind invitation to myself and my wife to join in the centenary Celebrations. It is indeed an honour and privilege for me to be asked to perform the unveiling ceremony.

For many years the Friends Group has supported this Hospital in raising much needed funds, with the aim of improving facilities and patient support.

I am well aware, as are many others, of the dedication and commitment this group has demonstrated and undertaken for the benefit of others, for many years.

Such support has helped in sustaining, improving the facilities and level of care available to us, provided by Doctors, Nurses and supporting staff.

Not only does events such as this produce financial support but also raises the profile of this excellent community facility.

Without such it would be much more difficult for the Somerset Primary Care Trust to improve and maintain current levels of care, especially during periods of financial constraints.

I am sure it has to be the aim of everyone to secure the long term future of this valuable community asset, so it is able to support those who are in need and face the challenges that lie ahead.

When I was asked for my views on the proposed name change it didn't take me long to consider that it would be appropriate.

I am sure when it was named Verrington Hospital it was for good reason. However, the time has now arrived to move on and allow the name to reflect its current status. After all it is in Wincanton and serves the community.

Only recently when purchasing an item in Yeovil I was asked for my address. When I said Wincanton the assistant replied "Ah I had a relative in hospital there recently". This demonstrates the ease of recognition within the wider community.

Finally, I wish the Friends a very successful day, everyone who has come to join in the celebrations an enjoyable time and anyone who has to use our community hospital, good health.

Long may this hospital continue to provide lasting care for those in need, within our community.

I would also like to extend my thanks to Matron Claire Andrews, Staff and Friends of Wincanton Hospital for the hospitality extended to myself, my wife and fellow guests.

It was very interesting to receive a guided tour of the hospital and see first hand the excellent provision which has been greatly enhanced, for those who unfortunately require health care.

Richard & Gill D'Arcy
Mayor & Mayoress Wincanton


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