A MAJOR fundraising drive has been launched to save Havant hospital’s cherished nursery rhyme tiles.
Community leaders and residents vowed to raise the £25,000 needed to remove the large tiles from the walls of the old children’s ward in Havant’s War Memorial Hospital.
More than 30 people gathered at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre to thrash out how the tiles could be saved.
It was the first time that residents, museum officials and NHS bosses have got round the table to discuss the future of the rare Royal Doulton tiles, which date back to 1936. The hospital is now on the market for £750,000 after closing last month.
For the 10 tiles to be removed, part of the wall would also need to be taken out and then the tiles carefully removed.
NHS Hampshire plans to create a covenant where the developers foot the bill for removing the tiles and they must be handed over intact to the people of Havant for safe keeping.
But residents at the Havant and Bedhampton Community Board meeting said they do not want to wait around as it could take months to sell the hospital.
Amanda O’Reilly, director at The Spring, said they had already allocated a space for the tiles and it would be difficult to keep it empty long-term.
Warblington resident Keith Chessell said: ‘I think it’s a question of security. Common sense says get them out early. That building might not be sold for another three or five years.’
Mrs O’Reilly said the fundraising could pull the community together as it did after the First World War, when people across Havant raised the money themselves to build the hospital.
There is space for seven of the tiles to be displayed at The Spring, while some could be placed at other venues on a temporary basis.
Inger Hebden, from NHS Hampshire, said: ‘I think the idea of the fundraising drive and moving the tiles sooner rather than later is a great way of pulling the community together.’
Anyone who wants to help with fundraising can email email@example.com.