‘Campaigners are often proved right,’ says Hunstanton writer
In his weekly Turnstone column, John Maiden looks at past campaigns...
Last Tuesday's Lynn News featured a summary of the news from November 19-25, 1980, which instantly struck a chord with me. It began with the impending closure of the post-operative hospital at Stow, where I recovered after my appendix was removed in the autumn of 1969. Eleven years later, Paul Sergeant, a consultant at Lynn Hospital, had this to say about the closure of Stow: "This will cause some very major problems and some people are going to have to wait years for simple operations.”
Mr Sergeant's mother came to live next door to the Maidens shortly after my hometown return, so we saw him quite frequently. He actually got to operate on me in the summer of 1979, and on this occasion, my post-operative care for his repair to a varicose vein was provided at the Hunstanton Recovery Home, formerly Addenbrooke's and now apartments, which the Lynn News story reminded me was due for closure at the end of 1980; but there were hopes that Norfolk County Council would take up the option to buy the building from East Anglia Regional Health Authority. Local campaigners (of which I was then one) having handed in a petition to MP Christopher Brocklebank Fowler in 1979, argued that the building could be used as a convalescent home for some elderly people (of which I am also now one) which would save money in the long run.
As usual, the campaigners have been proved right by subsequent, ever-lengthening waiting lists for operations, and the queues of ambulances waiting outside the crumbling Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Lynn. Ever the optimistic campaigner, I am still hoping to see the former convalescent home for children in Valentine Road transformed into a health facility for people currently living in the Hunstanton area.
Mention of the 'Valentine' name is a reminder that he was the engineer responsible for bringing the railway to Hunstanton in 1862. According to the Lynn News, in 1980 railwaymen feared that New Year cuts to services on the Lynn line could eventually lead to its closure. Those of us campaigning for the line to Hunstanton to be reinstated can take some encouragement from the fact that Network Rail is reported to be considering reinstatement of the line connecting Wisbech to March.