Friday, 22 July 2022

Rod and I are pleased to be with you today to mark the Centenary of the Gumeracha District Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital.

At the outset, let me assure you we were anxious not to replicate the Vice Regal delay when His Excellency Sir Archibald Weigall was here in 1921 to lay the foundation stone.

I understand that back then, the people of the district gathered excitedly for his arrival. Seven schoolboys each held aloft a large letter forming the words Welcome. Behind them two rows of girls holding long bamboo sticks decorated with streamers to form an archway.

And they waited and waited and waited.

The Vice Regal car arrived an hour later.

Luckily it was a clear spring day and I am sure His Excellency was forgiven!

Today it was an honour to place a wreath on that same foundation stone and tour the hospital. Thank you all for the warm welcome.

A centenary is a special milestone and a moment of great pride.

From its glorious vantage point on the hill, the hospital has been at the heart of the community over that time.

It is an enduring memorial to the soldiers from the district who served our nation in World War I - the locals deciding this was a fitting tribute in lieu of a pavilion, raising funds for its establishment, and undertaking working bees.

In the tradition of our veterans, so too does the hospital serve its community. Country hospitals hold a significant and much beloved role within their towns and region.

The staff are known, the volunteers proudly give of their time, people have reassurance that the hospital is there at the top of the hill when they need it.

As the local community has evolved over the past 100 years, so too has the role of the Gumeracha District Soldier’s Memorial hospital.

The management has been assumed by the SA Health Commission and an aging population has occasioned the establishment of the Glenview Homes.

Medical services too have changed.

However, always at the heart of the hospital has been a mission to provide the best possible medical services in a country setting.

It remains as vital for the community today as it was 100 years ago.

The past few years have not been easy as the world has grappled with the challenges of the pandemic.

You have been tested, but have shown resilience and nimbleness in your response and found ways to keep people connected. That is no mean feat for a small, regional hospital.

I thank the staff for working hard to navigate these challenges to keep patients and aged care residents safe.

As Rod and I toured the hospital we could sense the pride that the staff, patients and residents have in the Gumeracha District Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital.

Congratulations on your Centenary and I wish you the best for the next 100 years.