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Palmerston North Hospital to mark 125th Anniversary

Palmerston North Hospital to mark 125th Anniversary with display at Te Manawa Museum

Brian Wilton’s replica 1930s ambulance will be the star attraction of a display at Te Manawa to mark the Palmerston North Hospital’s 125th Anniversary.

Wilton has spent the past five years building the ambulance in the car port at his Levin home, having had his interest in vintage vehicles piqued while working as a first aider at a vintage car show in 2013.

From there, Wilton sought a 1930s Chevrolet chassis, called on his knowledge as a former ambulance officer for the Palmerston North Hospital Board in the 80s and thoroughly researched vintage ambulances for his passion project.

Wilton now takes the ambulance to events, rallies and competitions throughout the region.

“I thought it would be a good novelty to take a vintage ambulance along for people to have a look and see what things were like back in the 1930s.”

He’s spent about $20,000 and countless hours piecing together the ambulance as authentically as possible, although he injected his own style and character by making the body slightly more rounded.

A carpenter and joiner by trade, Wilton built the ambulance from macrocarpa and fibreglass, and with parts sourced throughout New Zealand.

While the ambulance’s body work was complete, it was still a work in progress, with the vehicle’s original engine the last piece of the puzzle to finish before it could become road-legal, Wilton said.

“The look on people’s faces and the enjoyment when kids climb inside and have a look – that is very rewarding and makes me feel good.”

It features old medical equipment inside (donated by the David Warnock Medical Museum) and he is seeking more pieces to add to the collection.

The Palmerston North Hospital 125th Anniversary display opens at Te Manawa on 25 October. Alongside the ambulance will be a range of medical exhibits from the Medical Museum and a photo and video retrospective of the past 125 years of the hospital’s history.

Established by the community in 1893, the Palmerston North Hospital has played an important role in servicing the health needs of people living in the region.

The anniversary will be commemorated in a ceremony on November 27 and a number of historical pictures will be featured in public areas throughout the hospital.

MidCentral District Health Board chief executive Kathryn Cook said the display was a celebration of the close relationship between the hospital and the community.

“The Palmerston North Hospital has been part of this community for 125 years. It was built by the community for the community, so we are delighted to mark this milestone by reflecting on our history with the public we serve,” Cook said.

“The hospital and its staff touch many lives, and we hope the community will take pride in looking back over the work and progress of the past 125 years.”

The Palmerston North Hospital Medical Museum is open for visitors on the first and third Friday of every month. Entry is through Gate 5 off Heretaunga St, and to the left after the car park barrier arm.


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