Today brings us to the end of our countdown to Thursday’s Examiner Community Awards at the John Smith’s Stadium. A Special Award for Outstanding Community Spirit will go to Karl Deitch who inspired the fight to save Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and its A&E. The sell-out event will be hosted by ITN newsreader Nina Hossain who comes from Huddersfield. There are three finalists in most of the categories and the winners will be revealed on the night.
The man who inspired the fight to save Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and its A&E is to receive a special award at the Examiner Community Awards.
Father-of-four Karl Deitch will receive a Special Award for Outstanding Community Spirit on Thursday.
Within minutes of hearing that Huddersfield Royal Infirmary could lose its A&E 37-year-old Karl had sprung into action.
He set up a Facebook page called Let’s Save Huddersfield A&E and within a few hours it had 30,000 members.
That tidal way of public support led to the first major protest rally in St George’s Square which showed the immense strength of feeling in the town against the closure plan and Karl has been a major figure in the campaign ever since.
The campaign has had its ups and downs and is battling a decision to make the controversial changes but Karl is there still leading his group now called Let’s Save HRI.
He has wanted to keep it at a grass roots community level steering clear of politics while doing all he can to make sure these plans are halted and A&E is saved in Huddersfield.
Karl was sitting in his car on Acre Street in Lindley eating a sandwich on Friday, January 15 when he spotted breaking news on the Examiner’s website about the plans to close HRI’s A&E.
He said: “I saw the post at 11.30am and thought immediately that action needs to be taken and then realised that as I’d thought about it I needed to do it. By midday I’d set the page up and by midnight we had 10,000 followers. In the first two weeks that rose to 30,000 and we now have 43,000.
“Make no mistake, this campaign is as strong as ever.”
The next major steps are Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Group having to give the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee the full business case which they will report back on towards the end of July.
If they are not happy with it they could send it to the Secretary of State for Health who can seek advice from the Independent Reconfiguration Panel before making a final decision.
Karl said: “The CCG has some huge hurdles to overcome – they will need to borrow £400m but how can they do that with all the cutbacks?
“If there hadn’t been such a powerful movement against all this, goodness knows what would have happened. It would probably have been pushed through but we have questioned them and held them up to account every step of the way.”
The campaign has taken up countless hours of Karl’s time but he has no regrets at all about starting it and seeing it through.
“The support has been phenomenal,” he said. “These proposed changes are simply unthinkable – there are hundreds of thousands of people across Kirklees who rely on this hospital.”
Karl, a security systems expert, lives in Golcar. He is married to Melanie and the couple have four children, Ben 17, Abigail 13, Michael 17 and six-year-old Melissa.