This voluntary group was formed in 1949.
The in-patient beds were closed in 2005 and the hospital building was used as a base for a large community team, including district nurses, health visitors, a multidisciplinary response team, physiotherapy, child and family health team, podiatry, phlebotomy and visiting clinics.
The ‘friends’ continued to support these groups, as an interim measure, while waiting for the local GP practice to move into a new health care building on the old hospital site.
However, it soon became evident that this was going to be a very long process.
So, in 2008 we decided to change our constitution to include improving health care in the wider community of Emsworth, and changed our name to the Friends of Emsworth Community Health, thus enabling us to use some of the large assets we had to benefit local people.
In 2012 the hospital closed.
Proposals to re-develop the hospital site as a GP surgery, with the possibility of accommodation for other services, have been under discussion ever since.
Meanwhile FECH has been supporting approximately 20 local health-related organisations every year.
These include Glenwood School, Emsworth House, CHAOS Support, Stroke Club, Blind Club, Alzheimer’s Singing Group, MS Society, St Wilfrid’s at Home, Snowdrop Trust (Children) and Age Concern.
We have also provided defibrillators in the three schools in Emsworth, the Emsworth Community Association and two other strategic positions in the town.
FECH is still involved in the discussions to redevelop the hospital site to provide a new surgery and to make community health services available to the people of Emsworth.
FECH also owns and maintains the lovely garden adjacent to the hospital site as a public amenity.
For years we have held a summer fete to raise money for funds.
FECH has its own stalls but we also invite other charities to have a stall, free of charge, including some of those we give support to during the year.
These organisations keep all of their takings.
It has proved to be a very useful way for local groups to network as well as being an enjoyable morning for all.
n The fete is on Saturday in the hospital garden, North Street, 10am until midday.