HOSPITAL food is just what the doctor ordered – every day of the week – for one South Tyneside couple.
For several years now, Denis and Ella Turnbull jump on the bus at 11.30am every day and head to South Tyneside District Hospital’s Alexander’s Restaurant for lunch.
Retired building trade worker Mr Turnbull, 84, and his 83-year-old wife always like to sit at the same table – and they’re now on first name terms with the catering staff.
For their recent 61st wedding anniversary, restaurant supervisor Margo Normandale surprised the Cleadon Park couple by laying the table, complete with white cloth, and serving them with a three-course meal which included soup, steak and kidney pudding and vanilla sponge cake with custard.
As usual, though, they brought their own salt cellar, which they prefer to the sachets of salt on offer.
It was a chance recommendation while they were standing at a bus stop which led to their daily lunch date.
“We were talking to somebody who said ‘You should try the meals at the hospital, they’re really good’,” said Mrs Turnbull.
“We came along and thought that the food was very nice and we’ve been coming ever since.”
The grandparents are members of the Foundation Trust, which entitles them to a discount on hot meals in the restaurant, located in the hospital, in Harton Lane, South Shields, and have only missed out on a meal there on a few occasions due to illness and once when they were snowed in at home.
The mum-of-one said: “We get a really good meal and it is such good value that we are far better off than if we bought food and cooked it ourselves.
“But it is not just the food: the staff are all lovely and the atmosphere is so friendly.”
Mr Turnbull added: “The standard of the food is first class. I haven’t really got a favourite meal but the steak and kidney pie is beautiful and we like the carvery.
“I would recommend the restaurant to everyone, come along and see for yourselves.”
Mrs Normandale said: “Denis and Ella are such a lovely couple. We have built up a relationship over the years and I look forward to seeing them every day.”