Robinson Hospital talk for Retirement Fellowship

VICE Chairman, Mrs Meta Cochrane, warmly welcomed local historian Alex Blair to the Causeway Branch of Health & Social Care Retirement Fellowship’s recent meeting, to speak on the topic ‘The history of the Robinson Memorial Hospital’.

The members heard how Samuel Robinson, born in 1865 at Culcrum, Cloughmills, in the 1930s very generously donated the money necessary to build a Cottage Hospital for the people of Ballymoney, in memory of his late parents Samuel and Margaret Megaw Robinson.

Mr Blair told how Samuel having worked on the home farm and serving his time in his uncle’s grocery shop in Ballymoney, had emigrated as a young man, along with his brother David, to Philadelphia in 1888 and three years later he and a business partner opened their own corner store there.

Alex explained how over the years, joined by other brothers, the business expanded greatly, and by merging with other big grocery chains, resulted in the formation of one of the largest retail groups in the USA.

They learnt how many years later, while back home on holiday in Co Antrim during September 1929, Samuel met with local businessmen to discuss his proposed funding of a Cottage Hospital for Ballymoney, an offer which was well received.

Such a hospital was to be open to all, regardless of their financial situation and a committee was formed to oversee the planning and building of the hospital.

The Robinson Cottage Hospital, later known as the Robinson Memorial Hospital, was officially opened by the Rev. Dr. J Denham Osborne and was very up to date for its time, with well equipped facilities offering a first class service to the local community.

A bronze plaque in the current entrance hall displays the motto by which Samuel lived his life “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.”

Alex spoke of the decision made by the hospital board, in 1948 to join with the National Health Service and of the various renovations and refurbishments that took place in the decades which have followed.

The current Health Centre officially opened on 6th May 1970 and was built using income from endowments provided by Samuel Robinson, who died on 26th October 1958.

Alex’ talk illustrated how this gentleman’s vision and generosity still lives on in Ballymoney today as it continues to provide much needed services to the local community.