Moray hospital chimes bells for first time in decades as Princess Royal visits to mark 200th birthday

Bells have rung out at a Moray hospital for the first time in more than 50 years as Princess Anne visited to celebrate its 200th anniversary.

The Princess Royal toured Dr Gray’s in Elgin yesterday to mark two centuries of care at Scotland’s smallest general district hospital.

A colourful stained glass mosaic designed by Lhanbryde-based Jo Adam depicting the historic dome of the building was unveiled by the special guest at the main entrance – just yards from where she opened the redeveloped facility in 1995.

Dozens of staff and well-wishers turned out to welcome the princess ahead of a tour of the wards, where she met patients and NHS employees.

Princess Royal during her visit on the 200th Birthday of the Hospital where she unveiled a plaque and visited staff and patients. Picture: JASPERIMAGE

Before leaving to attend last night’s state banquet at Buckingham Palace, the Princess Royal paused to listen to the bells ringing out from the hospital – the first time they have done so since the 1960s.

Staff who have banded together to form the Friends of Dr Gray’s group are fundraising to restore the clocks on the dome to mark its bicentenary.

Committee member Liz Tait, who has worked at the hospital for 20 years, said: “The princess took lots of time to talk to the staff. She had certainly done her homework because she knew everyone she was introduced to.

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“She certainly took an interest in the hospital because she remembered how it had changed from her previous visits, and was interested to hear of all the fundraising we have been doing.”

Group chairman Tim Wakefield, who works as a porter, added: “We started talking two years ago about how we wanted to celebrate the 200 years. It was an honour to have Princess Anne here, 200 years deserves a royal visit.

“It’s a fantastic thing for the staff to see. Hopefully it will encourage a lot more ideas for things we can do around the hospital to benefit patients too.”

Princess Anne in Dr Gray’s. Picture: JASPERIMAGE

Staff prepared 500 cup cakes depicting the hospital’s dome for the visit.

A cashmere scarf featuring the Friends of Dr Gray’s logo, which was commissioned for the 200th anniversary by Johnstons of Elgin to raise funds for the dome refurbishment, was presented to the royal during the tour.

Kenny McKenna, who has worked for the NHS in Moray for 25 years, funded the creation of the new mosaic from donations for his 50th birthday.

He said: “I actually scribbled the design I wanted on a napkin and gave it to the artist to deal with. It has come out great, I couldn’t be happier with it.”