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CALL FOR STATUE IN MEMORY of NHS 'ANGEL' ethel; Tributes pour in for 97-year-old who raised more than PS1.5m for medical care in Midlands town.

Byline: FAYE DARK Special Correspondent

THE death of one of the NHS' true "angels" has sparked calls for a statue to the amazing fundraiser in her hometown of Cannock.

Ethel Powell, who devoted her life to Cannock's old and new hospitals, died last month, aged 97. Her funeral took place on Wednesday at Stafford Crematorium.

What began as a simple campaign in the mid-1970s - to erect an aviary at the town's old hospital, former workhouse Ivy House - became an all-consuming job.

Ethel, awarded an MBE for her charity work, raised a fortune for medical care.

She launched the hospital League Of Friends, amassed a band of volunteers, and their charity shop - a portable cabin - became a landmark in the centre of the former pit town.

Local councillors and politicians have spoken to the Sunday Mercury about the legacy left behind by Ethel.

Ray Smythe, a former police officer and clerk to Heath Hayes And Wimblebury Parish Council, said: "Ethel Powell was an amazing person whose singlemindedness and determination over many years raised vast sums for Cannock Hospital.

"She was also relentless in her advocacy for better facilities and has directly helped thousands of people in the area.

"I am certain that she would have been a consideration in any hospital decision as no one would have wanted to face her undoubted wrath if any reduction in service was considered.

"My family and I have all used Cannock Hospital and, like others in the area, whether we knew it or not, were in debt to Ethel. We were very lucky to have someone so public-minded and dedicated. Thank you Ethel."

Cannock councillor Zaphne Stretton MBE said: "I found Ethel to be a very wise and authentic lady who worked tirelessly for the League Of Friends to raise funds for the comfort of all those who found themselves patients in Cannock Hospital. She will be sorely missed."

Social media has been flooded with tributes from residents.

Kevin Hampson-Murray posted: "She was a grand and determined lady, our Ethel, and could move mountains. There isn't one in Cannock to match her these days. Ethel should have a statue! It's the least we owe to Cannock's greatest friend."

June Necchi, now in her 70s, worked with Ethel. She said: "Ethel Powell put up a great fight for the patients of Ivy House and was the architect of the decision to install a lift for the mentally ill patients who had, until then, been confined to the first floor.

"It was a great moment when they came down into the fresh air for the first time.

"Ethel was a real stalwart who worked hard and was humbled by the quality of life she was able to give the patients."

Ethel and her late husband John founded The Cannock Chase League Of Friends in 1977.

She finally retired in 2010 after an incredible 33 years of campaigning which saw her raise more than PS1.5 million for medical care in Cannock Chase.

She met the Queen four times for her voluntary work.

In 2010 she was honoured with a lifetime achievement award by the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

She spent her final days at the Waters Edge Nursing Home in Great Wyrley, near Walsall.

She was a grand and determined lady, our Ethel, and could move mountains. There isn't one in Cannock to match her these days. Ethel should have a statue! KEVIN HAMPSON-MURRAY

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| Ethel Powell in the League Of Friends shop at Cannock Chase Hospital (below right)
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Mar 11, 2018
Words:585
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