Having recently sold their Matamata home, Lady Margaret Spring and her husband Sir Dryden have made the decision to head for the Bay and enjoy their next chapter in life under the sun. With just a week left before the tears start flowing and the truck pulls away, it was an opportune time t reflect on the remarkable contribution Lady Margaret has made to our community – more particularly to the growth and future succession of the Pohlen Hospital complex.
Since the day Lady Marg made Matamata home, her feet literally hit the ground running. She has become one of our most well-known community minded icons and with a great deal of appreciation, admiration and respect we are about to farewell a woman who simply wanted to make things better.
Soon after her 2001 arrival, Lady Marg was one of a group committed to creating a resource centre utilising the site if the redundant Matamata Railway Station. This began her passion for creating a better Matamata – one that encompassed all ages and stages of people with a holistic, forward thinking approach that would solidify successful community growth. With a passion for overall well-being and the drive to make things happen, it wasn;t long before she was “coaxed” into attending a meeting to form the Community Health Forum which, funnily enough, she attended and left as the elected Chair! Then, invited to stand as a Trustee for Pohlen Hospital Board at a time when rigorous government changes were being applied to health policies, Lady Marg – never one to do anything by halves, again left as Chair of the Board, In this role, she very quickly identified that Pohlen needed to be operated with a clear business plan that would ensure a successful future for the legacy left by the late Joseph Pohlen. Sure the hospital was existing on an operational budget, but there was very little left for capital purchases – let alone the addition of facilities that would enhance viability going forward.
It was then, in 2006, Lady Marg was instrumental in the formation of a legally constructed fundraising arm for the hospital which became the Pohlen Foundation Trust. For the first 12 months, she continued as the chair of the Hospital Board, also taking on the position of Chair of the Foundation Trust.
In layman’s terms, the Trust’s function was solely to raise funds for capital expenditure, upgrades to facilities and “wish list” resources or equipment to better serve the Hospital’s users- our community. Events such as the Ladies Luncheon at Longland’s, the mid-winter Christmas, Prominent Person’s for Pohlen, the Real Homes and Gardens tours and a raft of various functions were organised by Lady Marg and her trustees with the intention of offering memorable experiences for supporters and obviously, raising crucial funds for the hospital improvements. Community buy-in was immediate and in following years everything from a major refurbishment of the Maternity wing to the hospital kitchen, doubling the size of the resident’s lounge and the redevelopment of the unused theatre into an observational wing ensued. It was around five years ago initial plans were mooted for an end of life wing that would offer a family friendly “home away from home” environment without compromise to the excellence of care. This became a major focus and with committed fundraising and unequivocal community support, this dream became a reality and officially opened in May of this year.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Pohlen Foundation Trust has to date, raised over two million dollars, and enabled Pohlen Hospital to embrace a successful and very viable future.
For Lady Marg, with complete faith in both the Pohlen Foundation Trust . and the Pohlen Hospital Board, the time is right she believes, to step down, pass over the reigns and start a new journey with Sir Dryden in what she could loosely describe as retirement!
“The past 15 years has been an overwhelmingly wonderful journey for all of us” she says “and I have been very fortunate to have had incredibly focused and dedicated people alongside me every step of the way. Matamata is a community with an exceptional heart, extreme generosity adb culture envied by many. As Dryden and I begin our next journey, be assured part of my heart will remain here always. I can’t begin to thank everyone who has contributed to such a rich a nd rewarding time . in our lives – it willl never be forgotten. Where I set out to make things better, I truly believe it is you, the poeple of this community that have made me better. I sincerely and greatfully, thank you all”.