Thursday, 05 August 2021

War memorial at new hospital ‘in wrong place’

A WAR memorial installed at the new Townlands Hospital is not prominent enough, say campaigners.

A WAR memorial installed at the new Townlands Hospital is not prominent enough, say campaigners.

The wood boards, which list the names of servicemen from Henley who died in the First World War, have been placed on the first floor of the  £10million hospital, which opened in March.

But campaigners say the memorial should be in the entrance as it was at the old hospital’s accident and emergency department.

It is part of their campaign to have the hospital renamed the Townlands Memorial Hospital in recognition of the old War Memorial Hospital. This was built by public subscription and cost £20,500. It opened in 1923 and closed 60 years later. The memorial boards were originally at that hospital.

Town councillor Ian Reissman, who chairs the Townlands Steering Group, told a meeting of the town council last week that they had spent months speaking to NHS Property Services, which owns Townlands, about the memorial.

“It’s hard to gauge why it has been put on the first floor and I am not sure it’s the best location,” he said.

“Some people feel it is not prominent enough and that is something we need to plan as a community.”

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Reissmann said he was disappointed that the steering group was not consulted on where to put the memorial board.

He said he hoped to have a meeting with NHS Property Services and the developer Amber to discuss a number of other issues at the new hospital, including artwork, landscaping and a memorial garden.

“It may be that they show that is the best place for the boards but we want a dialogue to continue,” he said.

“We hope that future decisions are made in the spirit of co-operation and engagement.”

James Wakeham, regional director for NHS Property Services, said they had considered a number of different locations for the boards but they were all unsuitable due to a lack of wall space.

He said: “Having measured and assessed all possible locations at the hospital, we have installed the memorial boards in a suitably prominent position, linking what will be the rapid access care unit on the first floor to the landscaped therapy garden to the rear of the hospital.

“This bright location will be a busy part of the hospital and, importantly, it is also close to the area where plans are being developed for a memorial garden.

“The boards are fully accessible to patients and visitors at any time and the area is, of course, accessible to disabled visitors.”

Meanwhile, the council voted unanimously in favour of changing of the name of the new hospital.

The idea was first put forward by visitors to an exhibition to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War at the Old Fire Station Gallery in 2014.

Woodcote historian Mike Willoughby, who staged the exhibition as part of the Lest We Forget project, raised the idea again following the opening of the hospital last month.

He is supported by former mayors Lorraine Hillier and Elizabeth Hodgkin, John Green, chairman of the Henley and Peppard branch of the Royal British Legion, the branch’s standard bearer Brian Hughes and the Rev Duncan Carter, vicar of Holy Trinity Church.

The campaigners have launched a petition. It is available to sign at the 60+ Club in Greys Road car park, the town hall, the Christ Church Centre in Reading Road, New News in Reading Road, Ways Bookshop in Friday Street, the Oxfam shop in Market Place, the Bell Bookshop in Bell Street and the Hot Gossip coffee house in Friday Street.

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