Corporate Information

Countess of Chester Hospital marks 40 years since official royal opening

The Countess of Chester Hospital is celebrating a significant milestone in its history this week. 

On this day, 40 years ago, the hospital was officially opened by HRH The Princess of Wales, whose memorable visit confirmed the hospital’s long-lasting commitment to quality patient care.  

Wednesday, 30 May 1984 was a bright and sunny day and crowds of visitors and staff lined the hospital grounds to catch a glimpse of the Princess, accompanied by her then husband Prince Charles as they arrived. Staff who were working at the time recall Diana's 'radiant beauty' and striking blue eyes and the royal couple both made time to chat to staff and patients as they were given a tour of the hospital.

Diana Opening1

Sandra Libardi, a nurse who was working on Ward 43 on the day of the royal opening, recalls: “I loved all the fuss of getting all our patients and the beds perfect for the visit.  

“We were told which patients to stand by. Charles walked through and said hello and he talked with one patient – he was very engaging. Princess Diana was in a class of her own. It was so lovely that the hospital was named after her – a caring, loving lady, just like the ward we worked on at that time,” she remembers. 

Meanwhile, Elen Jones, another former nurse, added: "The royal visit caused a lot of excitement and fuss. It all happened so quickly, but it really cheered the patients up. What I do remember about Charles and Diana was how tall and slim they both were!”  

After officially opening the hospital under its new name, the Countess of Chester, Diana and Charles dined on a special meal prepared by the catering team, consisting of smoked salmon Barquettes, whole prawns and crab claws and coronets of ham, followed by strawberry tartlets, cheese and biscuits and fresh fruit. Over the past 40 years, the Countess of Chester Hospital has grown and evolved significantly, embracing technological advancements and continually improving the quality of care it provides.  

From the latest medical technologies to enhanced patient services, the Countess of Chester Hospital has packed a lot into the past four decades, including the opening of state-of-the-art Intensive Care and Endoscopy units. And in December 2020, the Countess of Chester became one of the first COVID-19 vaccination hubs in the UK, administering more than 31,000 vaccinations to people of all ages.  

Chief Executive Officer Jane Tomkinson OBE said: “Our 40th anniversary is a moment to reflect on our history and the journey we have undertaken over the past 40 years. It is also a chance to look forward with pride and optimism. Our hospital has grown and developed tremendously thanks to the commitment of our team and we are immensely proud of our achievements over the past four decades.

Published: 30 05 2024