SIR PETER BOTTOMLEY: A valedictory message

Princess Alexandra on a visit to the Queen Alexandra Hospital Home
Princess Alexandra on a visit to the Queen Alexandra Hospital Home

At a great performance of Carousel at the English National Opera’s Coliseum, I chatted with the fine cricketer and commentator Henry Blofeld.

He and I met last summer when I was one of Ian Hart’s guests on the day the renowned Lashings team came to town for a good lunch and an entertaining fund-raising game.

Over the years I have admired the varied parts of Ian’s contributions to local life – in his profession, as a regular writer and in the quiet way he helps people in need.

That brings me to the man I irregularly see at the races: John Paxman may be best known for his leadership as chief executive since the millennium year 2000 at the Queen Alexander Hospital Home (QAHH); I guess he has enjoyed as much his involvement in horse racing – I last saw him in that role when I supported the bookmakers at Plumpton on a rare day off.

When he came to Gifford House, he remembers that the chairman asked him to manage the transformation to meet the high standards of the new Care Standards Act regulations while, in his words, keeping the special ethos and atmosphere of QAHH, maintaining the aim that it really is a hospital home for residents.

He declares rightly that in 17 years, with the help of his colleagues, including donors and volunteers, there has been change.

The building and each ward have been modernised. The Alexandra Ward has been created with over 20 single en-suite rooms, together with the therapy and other departments at a combined cost of £5million.

The highly successful fundraising department now raises £1.3million a year. Females are residents.

QAHH has a growing reputation for the care and rehabilitation of people with progressive conditions including Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. The youngest resident is 31.

When he retires in the summer we can reciprocate the good wishes and the thanks he gave to all in his last newsletter.

We thank him; we can send him off with our hopes that he enjoys other activities and we can fulfil his wish that we all continue to love and to support the home, the institution that has been and will be home to generations past, present and in the future.

We can look with affection to the past; we can look with admiration to the present; we can look with confidence to the future.

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