Garden improvements, goodies for staff in lockdown, and a mural to brighten up a brick wall were among the “extras” provided for North Walsham hospital by its Friends group during a tough Covid-hit year.
The volunteer charity group supports the town’s War Memorial Hospital by providing a range of equipment and treats bought with money given by public donations.
Some routine events such as Christmas carol singing and present-giving were put on ice during lockdown, but patients still received gifts, and hard-working staff doing long shifts in full PPE were bought weekly goodie parcels of snacks and drinks to boost morale.
Chairman Keith Jarvis said: “Our thoughts have been with the staff working in difficult conditions and we hope our goodies helped keep their spirits high.”
One scheme that was Covid-proof was the addition of a piece of stunning wall art by mural artist Sophie Cane – which now brightens up a brick wall outlook from a ward and corridor.
And with lockdown easing the Friends have bought wheelbarrows and compost to help volunteer gardeners smarten up the gardens near the patio. They are also providing garden furniture and picnic benches where patients, visitors and staff can sit and enjoy the grounds.
The Friends’ work was outlined at an annual general meeting which covered two years due to the pandemic lockdown.
Over the year the Friends spent £5842 and received £22,044 in donations and legacies, including a £10,000 gift from former local librarian Beryl Coston, for equipment which the committee is currently liaising with the health authority over.
Plans for the future include an overnight stay room for visitors, improvements to the Wild Flower Meadow, and to reuse a window and cross saved from a demolished hospital chapel as a feature in the grounds.
The Friends are also keen to increase their membership and find new committee members.
Keith added: “The hospital has played a major part in town life. People were born there, and family members and friends have been cared for there. It is holds a place in the community’s heart, but we would like more people who have an affinity with it to come forward and help the Friends make improvements there for current patients, visitors and staff.”