Hitchin widow ‘disgusted’ after husband’s birthday present lost in Stevenage hospital

Valerie Minnis and Margaret Jarvis

Valerie Minnis and Margaret Jarvis - Credit: Archant

An elderly widow who had just lost her husband to cancer has been left “disgusted” after the hospital where he died lost a hugely sentimental watch.

Valerie Minnis, of Manton Road in Hitchin, lost her husband Lesley George following complications from stomach cancer and dementia at Lister Hospital in Stevenage on September 12.

Valerie, 77, had seen him just hours before he passed away and was keen to collect his treasured watch.

Her sister Margaret Jarvis went back to the hospital to collect his belongings, including the gold Rotary watch, a few days after he died.

When she arrived at the hospital’s bereavement office they were told that the 84-year-old’s clothes had been thrown away because they had been soiled and there was no record of a watch.


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Speaking on her behalf Margaret said: “She’s absolutely disgusted at how she’s been treated by the hospital.

“We saw him the day before he died and I remember Anthony, Valerie’s son, asking him what the time was and him checking the watch.

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“The family bought it for him for his 60th birthday and it had huge sentimental value so to lose it at such a difficult time is devastating.

“We also can’t believe how the hospital has treated us.

“My nephew Anthony sent them a letter more than two weeks ago explaining the situation but no one has got back to us.

“They haven’t offered any form of compensation and until the Comet contacted them we didn’t even get an apology. Its disgraceful and couldn’t have come at a worse time. I don’t think enough has been done to find out what’s happened to it.”

Angela Thompson, director of nursing at the East & North Herts NHS Trust which runs the hospital said: “I would like to offer our deepest condolences to Mr Minnis’ family, as well as to reassure them that over the last few days we have carried out a thorough search for the missing watch, which naturally held great sentimental value for them.

“Sadly its whereabouts has not been established and the trust has now presumed it to be missing.

“We’re aware that Mr Minnis’ family has written already to the trust regarding his watch and we will ensure that we deal with their concerns as quickly as possible.”

She added: “We understand just how distressing it can be to lose items of such sentimental value and in Mr Minnis’ case, we will now work with his family to help find a speedy and suitable resolution.”

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