For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
Worshippers facing demolition of hospital chapel
REGULAR worshippers at a much-loved hospital chapel are having to face up to its imminent demolition.
The Northern Echo revealed yesterday (Tuesday, October 23) that NHS bosses plan to build a £20m new extension at Darlington Memorial Hospital containing much-needed new operating theatres.
Work is expected to start early next year.
While the move will be welcomed by patients and staff it will mean the demolition of the Mary Hodgkin Memorial Chapel and its replacement in another part of the hospital by a modern worship space for use by different faiths.
Built in 1957 using funds provided by Mary Hodgkin - a prominent Quaker and secretary of the Darlington Town Mission - the chapel has been in constant use for the last 56 years.
For the last 33 years Derrick Hewitson, from Darlington, has been playing the chapel's piano - a Bechstein baby grand - to accompany services.
He admits that he and a small band of regulars will greatly miss the old chapel when it goes.
"Its a lovely place, it is such a shame to knock it down. A lot of patients and visitors pop in to meditate and pray and just have a quiet time on their own. It is very peaceful."
While Mr Hewitson admits Sunday congregation can sometimes be only a handful, he points out the chapel is nearly full three times a year, during the special service for retired nurses, an annual service in November for mothers who lose their babies and at Christmas.
"However, I am pleased that a new worship space is to be created," he added.
The chapel has a plaque recording that it was given by Mary Hodgkin "in grateful memory of her great-grandfathers Jonathan Backhouse (1779-1842) and Edward Pease (1767-1858) who did so much for the social and spiritual welfare of the people of Darlington and in memory of of John Beaumont Pease the chief founder of the Darlington Town Mission."
Kevin Tromans. senior chaplain at the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said: "It will be sad to say lose the existing chapel at Darlington Memorial once work starts on the new operating theatres. However, it will be replaced with a new chapel designed to fit today's needs, suitable for Christian services as well as other faiths, and for quiet contemplation.
"We will be preserving the commemorative plaque, and taking the piano with us to our new home."
Comments are closed on this article.