Wokingham Charity Hospital

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25/5/2005 – YOU’VE DONE IT!

By Sarah Bishton

THE dream of a new pavilion for Wokingham Community Hospital came to fruition last week as a two-year campaign culminated in the official opening of the building.

A 60-strong crowd of well-wishers, supporters and dignitaries cheered and applauded as Uri Geller, patron of the hospital and Wokingham Times appeal, cut the ribbon at the opening last Friday.
Always the showman, the Sonning celebrity quipped that he was tempted to bend the scissors instead, but resisted the urge and moments later declared the £90,000 hospital extension – complete with kitchen, patio and garden – open.
Dr Alan Penn, chairman of Wokingham Primary Care Trust, said: “Two years ago we launched the appeal to enable a dream and today that dream has been realised.
“I hope everyone feels the pavilion is a fantastic addition to our hospital and it would not have been built without the support of our community, friends and main sponsors.
“I have to give particular thanks to The Wokingham Times as without their help we would not have managed it.
“This appeal has taken a long time and we have gone through dark times and Jenny Green (fund-raising administrator) has been the constant thread that has held it all together.
“To all of you and anybody I have missed I say thanks from the thousands who will use this facility over the years to come.”
The building is intended as an area for hospital patients to meet, socialise and convalesce and has been made possible through the efforts of hundreds of fund-raisers, holding golf days, gala dinners, fashion shows, summer garden parties and countless other events.
Janet Fitzgerald, who has just taken over as interim chief executive at Wokingham Primary Care Trust, said the opening was a wonderful highlight and the perfect end to her first week in the job.
She said: “The pavilion is a real focal point for the hospital and I am sure it will be well used by all who visit the hospital.”
Nirvana Spa, TradeMark Windows, Wokingham Round Table, Sand Martins Golf Club and Holmes Place Health and Fitness Club have all provided invaluable support for the appeal and were all represented at Friday’s opening.
Tim Harding from Nirvana Spa, which pledged £25,000 when the appeal was launched and has been a driving force behind the fund-raising, said he was delighted to be at the opening and that the pavilion was a “remarkable achievement”.
Dr Penn publicly thanked Nicholas Meletiou, architect and friend of Uri Geller, Pat Parnell of Cantley House Hotel and Hare Hatch Nurseries which provided the plants and landscaped the new garden.
Unable to resist any longer Mr Geller bent four spoons from the new kitchen, which were then auctioned to raise extra cash for the appeal.
Elvis Baah-gyebi, a management accountant at the hospital, then challenged Mr Geller to bend a ladle from the kitchen, and he rose to the challenge.
Mr Geller said everyone had put in “an incredible effort” during the appeal’s duration and thought the facility would provide a place for spiritual relaxation for its visitors.
As a final hurdle Dr Penn announced that a further £8,000 was needed for blinds for the building, and Mr Geller promptly offered the first £1,000 to get things moving.
To coincide with the opening Nirvana Spa announced that another of its popular on-line auctions – set up to help the campaign – had been launched with lots including a meal for two at L’Ortolan, a Champagne balloon ride, a luxury villa holiday, an MP3 player and horse racing and hospitality.
Wokingham Community Hospital has written to secondary schools in the district this week asking for them to get involved in putting together a ‘donor wall’ for the pavilion commemorating all those who have made significant donations.
All entries must depict the principal donors of the appeal and the winners will be invited to paint the wall themselves.
The entries will be judged by a panel of representatives from the donors, artists, the hospital and The Wokingham Times.
L To view the on-line auction visit www.nirvanaspa.co.uk
For details of the Times/Wokingham Community Hospital Pavilion Appeal’s donor wall competition call Jenny Green on (0118) 949 5039.

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