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First World War-era hospital flags to “fly again” thanks to generous donation

PUBLISHED: 15:56 27 January 2018 | UPDATED: 16:17 27 January 2018

The Rev Paul Cubitt and Keith Jarvis with the old North Walsham First World War flags they would like to recreate. Picture: Richard Batson

The Rev Paul Cubitt and Keith Jarvis with the old North Walsham First World War flags they would like to recreate. Picture: Richard Batson

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Faded flags that flew over wartime hospitals are set to ‘fly’ again thanks to a friend of the current care complex.

Lower House, which was also a Red Cross auxiliary hospital – now demolished and the site of Greenway Close. Picture: North Walsham and District Community Archive Lower House, which was also a Red Cross auxiliary hospital – now demolished and the site of Greenway Close. Picture: North Walsham and District Community Archive

They once marked the location of two temporary First World War hospitals in North Walsham where the Red Cross nursed injured troops.

Today the white and red pennants have turned grey with age, and languish in the parish church where they have been stored for years.

But a joint initiative between the vicar and the Friends of North Walsham War Memorial Hospital is providing replicas to remind people of the town’s nursing heritage.

And it has been made possible by a donation from a well-known local shopkeeper and musician with connections to both organisations.

Soldiers and nurses outside Wellingtonia when it was a Red Cross hospital. Picture: North Walsham and District Community Archive Soldiers and nurses outside Wellingtonia when it was a Red Cross hospital. Picture: North Walsham and District Community Archive

A collection in memory of musician Denis Payne, who died in November 2016 aged 86, is being used to provide two £300 replicas for the church where he used to play keyboards at funerals, and where he gave visitors tours of its history.

And the Friends group is buying one to put in the hospital which cared for Mr Payne, who ran the family sweet shop in town for many years, when he was ill in later life.

The church flags will go in the war memorial chapel which honours 99 men who served their country but did not return home.

The Rev Paul Cubitt said it was fitting to get the flags revived for 2018, the centenary of the end of the Great War.

Denis Payne. Picture: Courtesy of Richard Batson Denis Payne. Picture: Courtesy of Richard Batson

He said: “We are really grateful for the Payne family for donating the money in memory of Denis to make this happen.”

Both Red Cross auxiliary hospitals were on Mundesley Road. One, Wellingtonia, is now a private house. The other, Lower House, was demolished and is now Greenway Close. The modern complex was opened in 2012, on the site of the former 1924 hospital which was built in memory of the 1914-18 war victims.

Mr Jarvis said: “When Mr Payne’s widow heard about the old flags she was pleased to donate Denis’s collection to get two of them restored in his memory, and the Friends were happy to provide one for the hospital to highlight the town’s connections with wartime nursing.”

To donate, email chairman Keith Jarvis at k.jarvis155@btinternet.com, or call 07788 889853.

The church is fundraising to restore its main east window over the high altar which is also a Great War memorial. To help with the church window appeal contact the vicar on revpcubitt@btinternet.com.

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