One of Britain’s oldest women, Hetty Bower, 107, will march to save Whittington Hospital
One of the oldest women in Britain will be on the march next month to save the Whittington Hospital - with a fighting spirit that has never once been muted in her 107 years.
Veteran campaigner Hetty Bower has vowed that she will travel “as far as her legs can carry her” to save the hospital where her youngest daughter was born in 1938 and where her beloved husband of more than 72 years died in 2001.
Mrs Bower, who has been marching for causes close to her heart since she joined the Labour Party aged 17, said: “The Whittington is our local hospital and we have to maintain it. I’m really afraid that they are whittling away at our health services and I am totally against that.
“I’m not going to throw stones at windows or damage the building but I will protest as far as my legs can carry me.”
On March 16 the veteran campaigner will don her walking stick and put on her most comfortable shoes to join thousands of people marching to protest against plans to sell-off part of the hospital in Magdala Avenue, Archway.
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The sell-off will include the loss of up to 100 beds, the closure of three wards and the loss of more than 500 jobs.
Whittington Health, which runs the hospital, say the changes are centred around moving care into the community and are necessary to save money in order for the Whittington to become a Foundation Trust.
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Like legions of health campaigners, Mrs Bower is sceptical and she plans to take to the streets to join the mass protest.
In 2010 she walked the same two-mile march route from Highbury Corner to the Whittington to stop the closure of the Accident and Emergency department.
“I couldn’t quite understand why I was so tired at the end but then I realised that all of the walk was uphill,” said Mrs Bower, who lives at the Mary Fielding Guild home in North Hill, Highgate.’’
Nevertheless, she will complete the same feat next month, pledging support for the Defend The Whittington Hospital Coalition, which has organised the march, and the Ham&High’s Hands Off Our Whittington campaign, backing the community effort.
With a voice that rings just as clearly now as it did when she was supporting workers during the general strike of 1926, Mrs Bower said: “When they created the National Health Service, I was so proud of this country. But the present government doesn’t care about the health of ordinary people.”
In true fighting style, Mrs Bower, who has relied on the Whittington Hospital for more than seven decades, is refusing to put down her walking stick once again.
“The Whittington is important and I am determined to do all I can to save our health services,” she defiantly declared.
If you would like to get involved with the march, visit the Defend The Whittington Hospital Coalition’s website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.