WATCH: Duchess opens memorial garden at Alnwick hospital

The Duchess of Northumberland helped mark the 60th anniversary of the group which supports Alnwick Infirmary as well as opening a memorial garden earlier today.

Alnwick Hospital Friends commenced when the hospital was first opened in 1919, with businesses in the town and local communities raising money to fund projects and purchase equipment. In 1956, following changes brought about by the introduction of the NHS, the League of Friends of the Alnwick Hospital, a registered charity, was officially formed.

The Duchess of Northumberland at the new memorial garden at Alnwick Infirmary dedicated to Duchess Elizabeth and Jack Deeble, from the League of Friends. Picture by Jane Coltman

The Duchess of Northumberland at the new memorial garden at Alnwick Infirmary dedicated to Duchess Elizabeth and Jack Deeble, from the League of Friends. Picture by Jane Coltman

To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the formation of the League of Friends, the Duchess of Northumberland, the current president, presented an ECG machine to the outpatients department of the hospital.

Matron Annaluisa Wood said: “We would like to pay tribute to the many members of the Alnwick League of Friends who have raised thousands of pounds for the hospital over the years.

“We would like to thank them for their efforts and congratulate the group on the 60th anniversary which is such a remarkable achievement.

“Here at Alnwick Hospital, the League of Friends have donated numerous items which are improving patients’ experience of being in hospital; the new ECG machine means patients attending outpatients appointments will benefit from the latest diagnostic technology. Many thanks again and here’s to the next 60 years.”

The Duchess of Northumberland presents an ECG machine to Matron Annaluisa Wood watched by Anne Harper, chairman of the League of Friends. Picture by Jane Coltman

The Duchess of Northumberland presents an ECG machine to Matron Annaluisa Wood watched by Anne Harper, chairman of the League of Friends. Picture by Jane Coltman

During her visit, the Duchess also marked the opening of a garden, created by the League of Friends, in memory of two very important members.

The first is Elizabeth, Duchess of Northumberland, who was president for more than 50 years. During this time she gave much encouragement and support to members, she took a keen interest in the equipment purchased by the League for the hospital, always inquiring as to what it was to be used for and how it was used. She was a regular attendee at the fund-raising coffee mornings, talking with members and visitors.

The garden is also a tribute to Jack Deeble MBE, who was always recognised as the League of Friends and when walking along the street, people would stop him and give him donations for the League. He was treasurer for more than 30 years, then, following the death of Mavis Curry, was unanimously elected as chairman. Nothing was too much trouble for Jack, he was fully committed to his voluntary work and, along with his wife Joan, he would endeavour to do his best to fund raise in whatever way he could for League of Friends.

Looking ahead, a 60th anniversary coffee morning will be held in the Northumberland Hall on Saturday, October 1, when the Friends hope that as many people as possible will come along to show support for their local hospital.

There will be a cake stall, Alnwick Inner Wheel tombola stall, a League of Friends stall and a raffle with prizes including a luxury food hamper from Fenwick’s, afternoon tea for four donated by Doxford Hall, MOT test donated by Blackshaws, day tickets for two adults and four children to the Alnwick Garden and Castle, Turnbull’s of Alnwick £20 gift voucher, Mole Country Stores £20 gift voucher, a pair of Bolle sunglasses from Thompson’s Opticians, and a bottle of Lindisfarne Mead from Taste of Northumbria.