An unexpected windfall from a grateful but little-known patient will transform the life of hospital staff in North Walsham.
Work began this week on a £300,000-plus project to build two new rooms at North Walsham and District War Memorial Hospital so that staff can hold training sessions and meetings without having to travel.
The development, due to be finished at the end of April, will also mean staff from other facilities can be trained at North Walsham.
It is being paid for from the will of the late Charles Oliver Dewing.
Mr Dewing, who died aged 82 in April 2011, was predeceased by his wife Barbara and the couple had no children.
He left his entire estate, including his bungalow on North Walsham’s Kendall Close, to the league.
Friends treasurer Brian Blackburn said the gift had been very welcome.
“It came out of the blue and was badly needed. We understand that at various times Mr Dewing and his wife had been treated at the hospital which shows how much patients think of the staff,” he added. “Unfortunately we know nothing else about him.”
The legacy, including the sale of the bungalow, amounted to more than £342,000, most of which will be used to fund the new rooms.
A larger room, measuring just over 58sq m with a kitchen attached, will be used to train staff and will be equipped with state-of-the-art facilities.
It will also allow staff to meet with others from surrounding towns and hospitals such as Benjamin Court, Cromer, and Kelling.
And a smaller, 27sq m, room will be used for internal staff meetings, league of friends’ meetings and informal training. It will have an adjoining storage area.
Currently many such meetings have to be held in the patients’ day room, which restricts its use.
The rooms will form part of the hospital’s outpatient building, formerly known as Rebecca House.
Brian Elliott, chairman of the league of friends, said they were delighted at the development.
“It’s going to make a tremendous difference and is desperately needed,” he added.
I’m just sorry that there are no members of Mr Dewing’s family that we can thank.”
Gary Wiltshire, charitable funds manager with Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust, said the donation was a fine example of the support patients and services received from donors.
The trust had worked closely with the league of friends, staff and patients to ensure Mr Dewing’s gift would provide a valued legacy for many years.
“Future patients cared for at the hospital or at home will be able to rely on nurses and care staff who have been trained to a high standard. Staff will also be able to their training updated as and when they need it locally, thanks to this legacy,” he added.
The friends are also funding a wildflower meadow garden at the hospital.
It has been planted on the site of the original 1920s memorial hospital, demolished to make way for the new £3.7m 24-bed replacement opened nearby in May 2012.
The garden will be named in memory of Madge Bird, mother of North Walsham businessman Carl Bird, who was cared for at the hospital.
Mr Bird, who owns a skip hire and recycling business, has helped create the garden, levelling it and donating top soil.
Paths are due to be built in early spring and three memorial benches will be installed, including one honouring late hospital nurse Shirley Roper, and another, league of friends stalwart Tony Randell.
An archway entrance to the garden will bear Mrs Bird’s name. “We hope it will be a quiet place for patients, staff and visitors to use,” said Mr Elliott.