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Farmer leaves £1m to hospital in will

PUBLISHED: 11:07 22 October 2019 | UPDATED: 13:45 23 October 2019

Norfolk farmer Douglas de Bootman left £1m to Cromer Hospital in his will. Picture: NNUH Trust

Norfolk farmer Douglas de Bootman left £1m to Cromer Hospital in his will. Picture: NNUH Trust

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A farmer's £1m bequest in his will to Cromer Hospital will help pay for a cancer care centre which will employ 33 people.

Artists impression showing the front of the planned North Norfolk Macmillan Centre. Photo: LSI ArchitectsArtists impression showing the front of the planned North Norfolk Macmillan Centre. Photo: LSI Architects

Douglas de Bootman's family presented a cheque for £1,078,519.30 to the N&N Hospitals Charity.

And Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals (NNUH) NHS Foundation Trust is working with Macmillan Cancer Support to create a £4.15m state-of-the-art cancer care and support centre, which will increase chemotherapy and treatment space at Cromer Hospital.

Mr de Bootman spent his life farming at Pentney, near Swaffham, before retiring and buying Church Farm in Thursford with his wife Janet.

After she died of cancer in 2010, Mr de Bootman continued to live in Thursford and spent much of his time looking after the grounds and painting.

Sagle Bernstein, who left a fortune to Cromer Hospital in her will. PictureL EDP LibrarySagle Bernstein, who left a fortune to Cromer Hospital in her will. PictureL EDP Library

The 88-year-old died in March 2018 following a short illness.

His niece Karen Ballard, from King's Lynn, said her uncle liked helping others and Mr de Bootman revealed to her a week before his death that he was leaving his legacy to benefit Cromer Hospital.

She said: "He was very active in his retirement up until three or four weeks before he died. He had quite a lot of land and used to get up early in the morning to take care of the grounds: cutting the grass, pruning the trees, and chopping wood.

"He was very skilled at carpentry, welding, and agricultural engineering. He loved being outside with his Labrador and in his retirement took up painting - he had a natural skill for it.

"He was such a quiet, sensitive gentleman. My uncle liked a quiet life. In Thursford he had a few elderly neighbours whom he liked to help and vice versa.

"We are happy the money is going to the new cancer unit at Cromer Hospital as cancer affects so many people in many ways."

Louise Cook, head of fundraising for the N&N Hospitals Charity, said: "We are overwhelmed by this incredibly generous donation, which will make a significant difference to thousands of patients in north Norfolk.

"Mr de Bootman's legacy will be felt by patients, staff and visitors for many years to come."

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Two generous legacies made Cromer Hospital possible

The new Cromer Hospital opened its doors in March 2012 replacing the 1930s founded hospital.

The £15m development was made possible by two generous legacies; Sagle Bernstein left £11.4m and Phyllis Cox left £1.3m

Mrs Bernstein, the widow of a businessman, lived quietly in the town, and died, aged 82, in 2000.

She lived at the Richmond Court Gardens luxury apartment complex in the town with her sister, Muriel Thoms, and left the cash as a thank you for the care Mrs Thoms received at the local hospital.

The Minor Injuries Unit on the ground floor of the hospital was named after Mrs Bernstein and the Procedure Unit on the first floor, after her sister.

The Audiology Unit on the first floor was named after Bacton widow Phyllis Cox, who had spent a week at Cromer Hospital in the 1950s having a stone removed from her salivary gland. She died in 2003.

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