TODAY marks the anniversary of the Queen’s first ever visit to Wirral, when she opened the borough’s new £35 million Arrowe Park Hospital.

More than 3,000 people gathered outside the hospital’s main entrance on May 4, 1982 to watch as the Queen and Prince Philip toured the facility, as well as greet hundreds of excited staff.

Hundreds upon thousands of patients have passed through the hospital’s entrance since then -  an entrance which looks remarkably different from its former self following an award-winning refurbishment.

While things at the hospital have undoubtedly changed over the last 33 years, the day the Queen came to visit lives on in the memory of Arrowe Park’s longest-serving staff.

One of those present on the day was Beryl Dare, from Pensby, who described it as a “magical” event.

She said: “To see the nurses lined up in their new uniforms as they greeted the Queen was marvellous. The corridors were lined with flowers and there was even fillet steak on the lunch menu.”

The mother-of-one still works at Arrowe Park Hospital as deputy chair of the League of Friends – who have helped to raise almost £3 million on behalf of the charity which invests all profits into equipment and facilities at Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Beryl has held every voluntary position the League of Friends offers and was awarded a British Empire Medal in 2014 in recognition of her dedication.

She will be having a Royal visit of her own later this month when she attends the Queen’s garden party at Buckingham Palace.

As one of the longest serving volunteers, Bery’s superb inter-personal skills and powers of persuasion have helped her to work successfully under four trust chief executives, four trust chairman and numerous presidents of the League.

She was instrumental in identifying the need for and development of a League of Friends shop in the hospital, which started life as a trolley service to wards.

It is now one of the leading League of Friends charities in the country and boasts more than 70 volunteers.

Wirral Globe:
Trust chairman Michael Carr with Beryl Dare, deputy chair of the League of Friends, unveil the plaque. Picture by Geoff Davies.

Last year saw the League spend more than £150,000 updating various areas of the hospital, including the acute medical unit, and theatre ultrasound machines.

It has also spent £50,000 on the eye department over the years and provided 32 costs for Wirral Women and Children’s Hospital.

Beryl told the Globe their latest project is to fund the installation of new kitchens for the trust’s hospital theatres.

Last year the League spent more than £150,000 updating various areas of the hospital and is currently funding the installation of new kitchens for the trust’s hospital theatres.

“This has always been a happy hospital,” said Beryl.

“It is the busiest it has ever been, yet the standard of care staff provide and the range of services on offer is better than ever before.”

Wirral Globe:
Trust chairman Michael Carr with Beryl Dare, deputy chair of the League of Friends. Picture by Geoff Davies.

Friday saw trust chairman Michael Carr meet with Beryl to repatriate a commemorative stone in honour of the Queen’s visit. It was removed from show during the hospital’s renovation but now sits proudly outside the entrance.

Michael said: “The hospital has changed enormously over the 33 years since Her Majesty the Queen visited to formally declare it open.

“Just as modern medicine has changed during this time, so have our services and how we deliver them as we continuously work to provide healthcare to meet the needs of the community we serve.

“I am pleased that we are repatriating this commemorative stone today as it is very much the final piece in the refurbishment of our main hospital entrance to reflect the modern healthcare we provide.”

Beryl added: “This hospital and the League of Friends mean so much to the people of Wirral. It’s lovely that everyone can now see this piece of Arrowe Park history once more.”

  • If you would like to volunteer at the League of Friends, simply visit in-store at Arrowe Park Hospital to find out more.