The following notes were kindly offered by Henry McIntosh when he learned that at some stage we planned to develop this website to include more historical facts about Danesbury House and its residents; to include the events leading to the relocation of long-term patients from the original Danesbury Hospital to their new premises in School Lane, Welwyn.
Sadly Henry McIntosh died on Boxing Day 2021 before we were able to publish his Report but, as volunteers ourselves, we now proudly record his major contribution to that exercise.
REPORT BY HENRY McINTOSH
1988 – Danesbury’s Patients told to Leave by 1993
In April 1988, although actively raising and Directing the Isabel Hospice Shops I agreed to be Treasurer of the Friends of Danesbury Committee, I might have predicted that I would end up as as their Chairman, and ‘in place’ at a critical time in the history of the Danesbury Hospital.
In January 1992 Danesbury Hospital was home to 15 young people, mostly with multiple sclerosis. But following an Inspection by the Regional Health Authority Chairman Mr (later (Sir) William Doughty, the planned closure of Danesbury was announced. There had been a complete breakdown of the heating system in January 1992 , compounded by the severe dilapidation of the building including the roof leaking through lack of maintenance over many years.
The newly formed East Hertfordshire NHS Trust had to immediately carry out a boiler replacement and patch up the roof at a cost of about £15000. An ultimatum was also presented that all the young people at Danesbury had to find alternative accommodation by October 1993, but there was no money available to support this ultimatum.
The Friends of Danesbury spear-headed an enormous protest by many bodies: understandably, it was with great relief that in June 1992 the East Herts NHS Trust announced that they would build a ‘new’ Danesbury Hospital in the grounds of QVM Hospital in Welwyn – BUT – only if the Friends would undertake to raise the required balance of £860,000 (after the sale of Danesbury House).
Thankfully the NHS Trust agreed to allow the Friends time to repay these monies through fund raising, and the Friends of Danesbury therefore opened a Shop in Welwyn High Street in the old outfitters shop. Brian King (later M.B.E.) had worked in the outfitters for 34 years and was soon appointed and employed as Danesbury Shop Manager. (Two further moves took place before the Danesbury Shop settled at its existing premises in Welwyn High Street in 1993 and then opened a second Shop in Knebworth High Street).
Life for Danesbury Hospital’s Residents
21st October 1993
The grounds, mostly lawn, at the Danesbury Home provide excellent facilities for garden fetes and many other events and had been used for many years to raise funds. This continued throughout the building of the new Danesbury Home, until the residents and staff relocated to the QVM site.
The residents had marvellous support from all the staff and many volunteers including frequent visits by Marty Wilde, and he and his family (Kim and Marty Jnr.) raised money at Knebworth Barns