By Kevin O’Donovan
The Whitchurch Herald has been thanked for its role in saving a community hospital from closure.
The Shropshire-based weekly’s Hands Off Our Hospital campaign, as part of a wider local movement, successfully managed to keep the Whitchurch Hospital open, after it was targeted to be shut in response to a £36m NHS cash shortfall in Shropshire.
Lead campaigner Mrs Margaret Hiles, chairman of the Friends of Whitchurch Hospital, told the newspaper: "The Herald has done such a lot for us. The Hands Off Our Hospital campaign placards really caught the public imagination and rammed the message home."
Andrew Bowan, editor of the Whitchurch Herald, part of the Trinity Mirror group, said: "We’re a local community newspaper in a small market town, and the plan to close this hospital was a ludicrous idea. It would have been an extremely unpopular decision to say the least — it’s one of the town’s most valued assets.
"More than 600 people attended a public meeting to register their disgust, and a petition with 10,000 signatories was sent to hospital chiefs. That’s practically the population of the whole town. There was a huge public backlash against the plans, so we were happy to get involved and back the campaign."