Leading figure in Sidmouth hospital transformation steps down after 30 years

PUBLISHED: 13:40 17 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:36 18 April 2019

Comforts Funds, Graham Vincent pictured with Francess Neuth on his last day as chairman after thirty years. Ref shs 15 19TI 2351. Picture: Terry Ife

Comforts Funds, Graham Vincent pictured with Francess Neuth on his last day as chairman after thirty years. Ref shs 15 19TI 2351. Picture: Terry Ife

Archant

A leading figure behind the transformation of Sidmouth Victoria Hospital has stepped down after three decades.

Comforts Funds chairman Graham Vincent steps down after thirty years. Ref shs 15 19TI 2368. Picture: Terry IfeComforts Funds chairman Graham Vincent steps down after thirty years. Ref shs 15 19TI 2368. Picture: Terry Ife

Graham Vincent will continue as a trustee of the comfort fund after holding the role of chairman since 1989.

Mr Vincent, who was born in Sidmouth Hospital, was invited to become a trustee in 1987, becoming chairman two years later. He gave his farewell speech at the fund's annual general meeting last Thursday (April 11).

Mr Vincent led vital upgrading work of the Victorian building which was completed in five phases over the course of 24 years, costing the fund £5million.

Mr Vincent said: “At that time decisions had to be made about the future of the hospital. If some form of upgrading was not carried out there was a possibility that the hospital would not take us into the next century. “

Comforts Funds chairman Graham Vincent steps down after thirty years. Ref shs 15 19TI 2363. Picture: Terry IfeComforts Funds chairman Graham Vincent steps down after thirty years. Ref shs 15 19TI 2363. Picture: Terry Ife

The works began in 1990, starting with the demolition of the operating theatre to make way for a new one plus a maternity suite and nurse station.

In 1992, the existing x-ray department was knocked down and rebuilt with a new radiography machine.

Phase three saw the rebuild of the two nightingale wards to create one, two and four bedded en-suite room, new lounge, dining, television and amenities area and nurses station. This was opened by Princess Anne in 1999.

More ensuite rooms were built over the years before the completion of phase five in 2014 when the old physiotherapy building, kitchen and mortuary were knocked down and replaced.

Comforts Funds chairman Graham Vincent steps down after thirty years. Ref shs 15 19TI 2361. Picture: Terry IfeComforts Funds chairman Graham Vincent steps down after thirty years. Ref shs 15 19TI 2361. Picture: Terry Ife

Mr Vincent said: “It was my privilege to have been involved with the upgrade since 1990.

“I was born in Sidmouth and our three sons were delivered in our hospital. It's down to the team, it's a team effort and I just happened to be the chairman.”

In the last 12 months, he said he was pleased to see the opening of the much awaited therapeutic garden and Dyson air purifiers, which were put to use over 2018's hot summer. The fund's projects for the coming year are to provide a smaller garden outside the day room and provide additional parking spaces free for visitors.

His successor Jeremy Roberts, was a former principal of Sidmouth College and has served as the fund's vice chairman over the last year.

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