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Benenden Hospital celebrates construction works with topping out ceremony

25th February 2015

A topping out ceremony has been held at benenden hospital which is undergoing a £45 million redevelopment.

The celebration was held to mark construction works reaching their highest point, a milestone in the development which will see the creation of new theatres, single en-suite rooms, an ophthalmic suite, a new outpatient department, new procedure rooms and recovery areas, investment in diagnostic imaging, new catering facilities, a new entrance with a glassed roofed atrium and car parks. 

Attending the ceremony was the Chief Executive of benenden health Marc Bell and members of the organisation’s Committee of Management. Benenden hospital is their flagship hospital in the UK. Also in attendance was Hospital Director Jane Abbott, the redevelopment project director Graham Goddard and representatives from Willmott Dixon Construction Limited who are carrying out the works.

The investment will transform the facility into a state of the art hospital poised to meet future healthcare needs. Work on the redevelopment began in May last year and is due for completion early in 2017.

Marc Bell, the Chief Executive of benenden health, said: “We are a national healthcare organisation which compliments the work of the NHS. We have 900,000 members and this is part of our strategy to provide them with first class facilities.

“So far the project is running to time and to budget and we are very pleased with the progress.”

Jane Abbott, Hospital Director, said: “We want to ensure our patients have an excellent, efficient and streamlined experience from the moment they arrive until the time they leave. Our redevelopment will ensure that this is achieved.

“We are a significant local employer and we constantly engage with the local community, inviting them to make use of our facilities. We are open to members of benenden health, private patients and to NHS patients who come to us through the Choose and Book scheme. With our new facilities benenden hospital will be an outstanding healthcare facility.”

To mark the topping out ceremony Chris Yates, construction manager with Willmott Dixon, presented Graham Hadfield, the hospital’s chairman of the Board of Governors, with an engraved ceremonial trowel.

What is a topping out ceremony?

Topping out is a ceremony that marks the structural completion of a building and is performed to ensure there are no evil spirits trapped in the building when the envelope is sealed, and that prosperity and good luck for the future will ensue.

It takes place when the highest point of the building is reached and provides an opportunity for the client, consultants and workforce to toast the success of the building.

In Saxon times, a yew tree branch was placed on the uppermost part of the building. This originates from the roof gardens that were popular thousands of years ago in Persia and were the last point of the building to be constructed. The trees were essential for shade and so were regarded as a symbol that the building was complete and ready for occupation.

Wine, oil, corn and salt were sprinkled on the roof once the tree was planted. The wine symbolised fertility and wisdom, the oil - liberty and prosperity, the corn – ripen prosperity into abundance, and the salt – purity and hospitality.

Around the world, topping out celebrations vary widely. However diverse the celebrations, all usually involve food, drink and a toast to the success of the project and workforce so far.

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