Video: ‘Meaningful’ service for former Hellingly patients

A memorial stone was dedicated at a service on Thursday (May 29) in tribute to former Hellingly Hospital patients who lay in unmarked graves.

Around 50 people turned out for the service which was held in North Street Cemetery after the Hellingly Hospital Patients Memorial Fund raised around £1,200 for the memorial stone.

Hellingly Memorial Fund dedication to memorial, Sylvia Skinner

Hellingly Memorial Fund dedication to memorial, Sylvia Skinner

The memorial stone reads: “This stone is placed to the memory of patients of Hellingly Hospital who lie here in unmarked graves. 1903 to 1994.”

Sylvia Skinner, from the memorial fund, said: “After a wet few days and morning, the sun came out in time for the dedication service. It was attended by about 50 people, consisting of members of the Hellingly Parish Council, and the parish church. There were also a number of ex- Hellingly Hospital staff and some family members of past patients.

“Hellingly Community Park Trust sent a couple of representatives and Persimmon Homes, the developers who demolished the old hospital and built the new housing estate and had also sent a donation towards the stone, also sent a representative along. The Rev’d Tony Fiddian Green conducted a very meaningful service of dedication with those present gathered in a semi-circle around the memorial stone, after the service, which lasted about ten minutes.

“A majority of those there then walked the short distance to the Village Hall where the ladies of the Hellingly WI had prepared a beautiful tea. It also gave everyone a chance to mingle and exchange memories of the old hospital.”