More than 1,100 people are joining the growing fight to save a vital cottage hospital in Lutterworth.
An astonishing 1,152 people from across the Lutterworth area have taken part in a new survey about under-threat Feilding Palmer Hospital on Gilmorton Road.
And all of them are throwing their weight behind the desperate battle to rescue the Harborough town’s much-loved 123-year-old community hospital.
Today Mary Guppy, 78, who is spearheading efforts to save the Victorian hospital, told the Harborough Mail: “We are absolutely thrilled by the stunning success of our survey.
“Over 1,150 people have already taken the time and trouble to complete our detailed study – and replies are still flowing in.
“And they are all backing us to the hilt.
“The public’s response has been incredible – and far exceeds our expectations,” said Mary, of South Kilworth.
“They all want the Feilding Palmer Hospital to stay with us for many years to come.
“And they also want it to be an even bigger and better hospital to serve our fast-growing community in the Lutterworth area.
“Many respondents have also written very powerful, emotional letters about their memories and experiences to us – and quite a few moved me to tears.
“One woman said her husband died at the hospital and she could at least go to see him in his final days because he was close by rather in a hospital miles away.
“Another pensioner told us that she’d been forced to cancel an appointment at a Leicester hospital because she couldn’t afford the taxi fare,” said Mary, whose husband was a doctor.
“A lot of older people here in their 70s and 80s, even their 90s, just cannot get to hospitals in Leicester or Coventry.
“Buses are hopeless, taxis are expensive and parking is difficult and costly if you are able to drive there.
“A lot of people are also making the point to us that there are far more families moving into Lutterworth and our surrounding villages all the time.
“Our local population is growing day by day,” insisted Mary.
“That makes it even more critical that we save Feilding Palmer Hospital, that we make it even better and better-equipped and that we have even more beds there.
“The handful of beds that we have there now are in some doubt sadly.
“But surely a hospital without beds is like a police station without cells!”
The indefatigable veteran campaigner said that a local woman in her 90s has just given them a staggering £10,000 to help bankroll their medical mission.
“We were totally amazed – and so grateful.
“I went to see this lovely lady.
“She told us that our community hospital had been so important to all of us for well over 100 years.
“And she insisted that we should have it for many generations to come in the future,” said Mary.
“We have now held a very positive meeting with the local Commissioning Clinical Groups’ (CCG) senior officers.
“The CCGs were astounded by just how many replies we’ve had to our survey.
“They were very complimentary and impressed by the sheer strength of feeling and the determination of local people to support our battle.
“The whole initiative has injected huge new momentum into our struggle,” said Mary.
“It really has been tremendous.
“I’d like to especially salute my colleagues David Fish and Bill Piper, who are fighting so hard right alongside me.
“This could turn out to have been a pivotal and watershed few weeks in our fight to save Feilding Palmer Hospital for the people of Lutterworth and beyond for the next 100 years.”