Monday, June 16, 2014
After a quarter of a century in the position, the Sidmothian chairman of the Sidmouth Hospital Comforts Fund still feels indebted to the community hub where he and his three sons were born.
Town councillors, staff and trustees gathered last Thursday to pay tribute to Graham Vincent, whose tenure coincided with a £4million revamp of Sidmouth Victoria Hospital.
He was originally invited to the committee for a local perspective, and has since overseen a massive fundraising effort – with most of the funding coming from patients and supporters from across the Sid Valley.
“I am so grateful to all the trustees, the hospital staff who have been so professional and all the neighbours for their patience,” said Graham.
“We are so excited now that the project is nearly finished. We have had many battles and had to compromise, but if we didn’t we wouldn’t have had the results we did. People are a lot busier these days and it’s always difficult to get officers but I think we are very fortunate in Sidmouth – the people here are rather special and unique.”
He added: “My three boys were born here and I was born here – I feel I have given something back to the hospital. I’ll stay on [as chairman] if they’ll have me!”
Graham has always taken an active role in the community, from his days playing football for Sidmouth and working as a decorator and sign writer, through to being a former president of the Sidmouth Lions and a trustee of the Sidmouth Consolidated Charities.
“It’s been difficult, but he’s loved every minute of it,” said his wife Jenny. “He is so happy to do what he does.
“He’s got a wonderful committee who have been behind him all the way.”
Comforts fund president Sheelagh Michelmore, whose husband worked at the hospital, said: “We are all so grateful for what he has done.
“I’ve been a member of the committee for many years and it’s been wonderful to see the hospital grow – it is a tremendous attraction for GPs to come and work in Sidmouth.
“It’s marvellous that Graham has been able to see through the whole project.”
Committee member Frances Newth added: “We are so fortunate we have been able to maintain our hospital – what would we do if it wasn’t here? It would probably be more housing.”
And town council chairman John Hollick commended the ‘forward thinking’ of the committee for beginning the renovation works, saying: “I am sure that every chairman for the last 25 years has been behind this project.
“It’s wonderful to have someone who has given so much to the community.”