Uckfield Community Hospital celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and a special garden has been planted to mark the milestone.
Townspeople helped raise £1 million towards building the hospital. This matched a donation from local resident Arthur Hughes and he then gave the land off Framfield Road for it to be sited on.
The massive fund-raising challenge was taken on by the hospital’s League of Friends, and a book inside the hospital records every donation made.
It is in a glass case beneath a plaque which marks the opening of the hospital by Princess Margaret on May 31, 1994.
The League of Friends records the history of the hospital on their website.
A house and grounds in Uckfield High Street were donated to the town as a hospital in 1881 by the squire of Uckfield Richard Streatfeild. He originally had the house built as a retirement home for his old retainers.
The League of Friends say the site continued to expand throughout the first half of the 20th century with the additional building of 137 High Street and Home Mead.
But then: “The post war growth of Uckfield and surrounds, together with the higher medical standards and modern technology, required radical alterations that were uneconomical, and in some areas difficult to provide in the old buildings or on the site.”
This led in 1958 to the formation of the League of Friends, by Robert Manby as the prime mover, “to assist in providing equipment and improvements for the general welfare of staff and patients”.
Eventually it was evident that the original buildings were no longer fit for purpose and so resident Arthur Hughes offered £1 million to build a new operating theatre on the site.
The NHS considered this was not a long-term solution and they suggested they would build a new facility of the League of Friends could match the donation.
When the hospital opened in 1994 its services included minor injuries, out patients, x-ray, physiotherapy, surgical, medical and many other facilities.
The League of Friends says the range of services has expanded over the years and, as with the old site, this has continued to place increasing demands on their support.
They say: “As with the original generosity of Richard Streatfeild, and subsequently by Arthur Hughes, the League of Friends is entirely reliant on the good will and support of the people of Uckfield and surrounding areas through their donations, gifts, and legacies, which we hope will continue into the future to maintain this highly valued local facility.”
New car park
Recently the League of Friends built a new staff car park at the hospital – on land donated by the family trust of Arthur Hughes – which provided an additional 23 spaces.
Their latest major expenditure involves a huge upgrade to the Radiology Department with a new digital system being installed. Read more in the League of Friends 2018-19 newsletter.