Saturday, 15 May 2021

Former GP could be honoured at new rec

RESIDENTS of Sonning Common want the village’s new recreation ground to be named after the founder of the health centre.

Dr Peter Hemphill set up the health centre in Wood Lane in 1972 having spent the previous 23 years working at the former Springhill Surgery in Kennylands Road, where he has lived since retiring in 1985.

The parish council sent a questionnaire to every village household to find out what sports facilities they would like to see at the £519,000 recreation ground being created on land off Reades Lane, opposite Maiden Erlegh Chiltern Edge School.

One question asked if residents liked the name “Memorial Park” and, if not, to suggest an alternative.

Michael Woods, of Newfield Road, was the first to suggest the field be named after Dr Hemphill, saying he was “a lovely man” who was greatly respected.

He said: “He was our doctor when we first moved to the village in 1966 and it was a little private practice as Sonning Common was a smaller village then and there wasn’t any big housing estates.

“When I was 33 I had excruciating pain in my back and my legs were numb and I could hardly walk so I went to see him and he asked if I wanted tablets.

“I said, ‘No, I want something to be done’ and straight away he picked up his phone and called his friend in Oxford who was a surgeon and before I knew it, I was in hospital having an operation on my back.

“It was the old infirmary at the John Radcliffe Hospital and I was transferred to the old hospital in Peppard into a private room that Dr Hemphill organised. He visited me every day and I was back to work within 30 days.”

Mr Woods, 75, who had a trapped nerve in his back and was told he may not be able to walk after the operation, added: “I’m just grateful for what Dr Hemphill did and for what he has done a thousand times for most people in the village.”

Mr Woods, who lives with his wife, Lynn, 74, and their youngest son, Elliot, 48, said the recreation ground was a good opportunity to honour Dr Hemphill.

He said: “In the survey I suggested Dr Hemphill Field or Hemphill Memorial Field or just Hemphill Field. I put the idea on Facebook to let people know about it.

“We already have Fulford Way after a parish councillor and Sibella Way after Sibella Bonham Carter.”

Twenty-five residents have supported his idea online.

Other suggestions include naming it after Mrs Bonham Carter or after the Pelly family, who owned the land before it was sold to the council for a nominal fee of £1.

Deputy parish clerk Ros Varnes said: “One of the strong suggestions so far has been Memorial Park and that will be in memory of all the historic figures from the village. But we’ll have to wait and see all the survey results when they come through — our minds are open.”

Groundworks at the site started last month and could take up to 14 weeks. The project is being carried out by Blakedown Sport & Play, of Banbury, and managed by Aurora Construction Consultancy, of London.

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