By Connor Steel
GOSPORT WAR MEMORIAL HOSPITAL has marked its hundredth year of operations this week as a special ceremony was held on its grounds last Sunday afternoon (April 23), which was attended by a large crowd of military personnel, staff, patients and political figures such as the constituency MP Dame Caroline Dinenage.
The hospital was built as a memorial to Portsmouth Division members of the Royal Marine Light Infantry who passed away during the First World War; its foundation stones laid in July 1921 by Field Marshal Earl Haig. It was formally opened for use in late April 1923 by local MP Sir John Davidson after two years of construction.
It has seen development over the generations as the East Wing was added in 1932, with the ‘Canon London’ Memorial Clock installed during the 1950s as tribute to the former Rector of Alverstoke. Other upgrades were made to the hospital in both the 1960s and 1990s with the rapid changes in healthcare equipment over time.
In present day the hospital has four wards alongside providing crucial inpatient and outpatient services for all in the local community; a specialist minor injuries centre further supporting treatment to residents. The facility is under the leadership of the Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, who were keen to mark the centenary.
An organised ceremony therefore took place at the hospital on St Georges Day and featured the unveiling of a special stone tablet, which was provided by League of Friend on behalf of local residents. This was further accompanied by the official military salute and flag raising by representatives of Royal Navy / Royal Marines.
Dedications were presented by the Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust chair Lynne Hunt, the Captain of HMS Collingwood and Colonel Brian Carter from the Royal Marines. Commemorative cakes and treats were then given to patients along with a special printed programme which looked at highlights over the 100 years.
All staff and volunteers at the hospital were also thanked for their dedicated hard work during the challenging times; including the Second World War and more recently the Covid-19 pandemic. There was lastly a chance to mingle with those attending the event including local councillors, organisations and Alderman Peter Edgar.
Similar ceremonies are likely to take place across Gosport and Fareham later this summer with the NHS due to celebrate its seventy-fifth birthday; the service first introduced back in June 1948. More details about local and national events are set to be released over the next few weeks with the planning believed to be ongoing.
PICTURED BY CAROLINE DINENAGE TWITTER: Banner flies above the War Memorial Hospital as the site marks 100 years since being opened; helping the community, residents and beyond through the generations.