Open space on the large field, located behind Shropshire’s specialist orthopaedic hospital, is to be transformed into a tranquil, wellbeing path in memory of Captain Sir Tom Moore.

The path, which will provide an area of relaxation and reflection for staff, as well as patients and their loved ones, is being built at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH).

The wheelchair-friendly path will provide a calming space for staff members to enjoy their lunch or a place where colleagues, patients can take a walk or a break outdoors. It will be named Captain Sir Tom Moore’s Path of Positivity.

Last spring, the nation was captivated by the late Captain Sir Tom Moore’s extraordinary fundraising efforts, where he had initially hoped to raise £1,000 by completing 100 laps of his garden by the time he reached his 100th birthday. However, the war veteran went onto beat this target and ended up raising a staggering almost £33 million for NHS Charities Together.

RJAH received a share of this funding and after the Oswestry-based hospital asked its staff how it should spend the funds, almost 60 per cent decided that a wellbeing path would be the best option.

Kate Betts, Physiotherapy Rehabilitation Technician on the Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries (MCSI) and Staff Governor, first instigated the idea of the path in 2019 but it’s the NHS Charities Together funding efforts, which have made this idea a reality, with support from the hospital’s League of Friends and the Trust’s Estates team.

Work on the path has gotten underway this week – coinciding with the week Captain Sir Tom would have celebrated his 101st birthday.

Mark Brandreth, RJAH Chief Executive, said: “Captain Sir Tom Moore captured all of our hearts last year by doing laps of his garden to raise funds for the NHS. He was an absolute inspiration and provided us with a glimmer of hope when the country first went into lockdown.

“This special path will be a calm area, outside the clinical environment, where our staff and patients can take a breather and have some brief respite.

“It also seems truly fitting that we announce Captain Sir Tom Moore’s Path of Positivity on the day he would have celebrated his 101st birthday.

“To honour Captain Sir Tom Moore and also to celebrate the hospital being on this site for 100 years this year – as well as the 60th birthday of our League of Friends and 40th year of the Orthopaedic Institute, we are pledging to plant 101 trees – the first of which has been planted today. It’s one way we can promote sustainability on our hospital site.

“As well as recognising the fundraising efforts and determination of Captain Sir Tom Moore, I would also like to thank Kate Betts for getting this project off the ground with the fantastic support of our League of Friends, our Estates team and members of the small, staff focus group. Thanks must also go to NHS Charities Together.”

Kate Betts said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that this idea is becoming a reality. Although our hospital field is stunning to look at, the path will enable our staff and patients to move amongst the trees and nature more easily.

“The path will be fully accessible for patients, who use a wheelchair, crutches or walking frame. My hope is that every department, staff member and patients within the hospital will be able to benefit from the path and use the space in different ways.

“Throughout the covid pandemic, staff members haven’t been able to have those same friendly corridor conversations which RJAH is so renowned for but thanks to the creation of this path, we will again. The path will be two metres wide, meaning everyone will be able to use it and chat in a socially distanced manner.”

Victoria Sugden, League of Friends Charity Director, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that Captain Sir Tom Moore’s Path of Positivity is to be built at RJAH and it makes it all the more special that we are sharing this news on what would have been his 101st birthday.

“We know that the path will make a huge difference to the wellbeing of RJAH staff and patients, and we feel proud to have played our part in helping to make this idea a reality.”

In time, it is planned that benches and laybys for wheelchairs and patient beds will be installed, as well as areas where late members of RJAH staff can be remembered by their colleagues.

The contractors working to create the path are Henry Williams & Son, based in Wrexham. They have received support with reduced prices from a number of material and plant suppliers, including Jewson Wrexham Builders Merchants, Hanson Aggregates, Breedon Asphalt, Digga Rentals Plant Hire, and MP Paver Hire.

Dave Bryan of Henry Williams & Son added: “It’s an absolute pleasure to be involved in making this fantastic idea a reality, and in turn helping to support hard-working and dedicated NHS staff.

“A big thank you to all of material and plant suppliers, who supported us by offering reduced rates, knowing this project will make a difference to our local NHS.”

Pictured:: From left, Kate Betts, Physiotherapy Rehabilitation Technician on the Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries (MCSI) and Staff Governor; Victoria Sugden, League of Friends Charity Director; Mark Brandreth, RJAH Chief Executive; pictured with the contractors working to develop the path.