Former Penticton residents George and Sylvia Melville have donated $1.5 million to the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation’s fundraising campaign to supply medical equipment for the new Patient Care Tower at Penticton Regional Hospital.

Former Penticton residents George and Sylvia Melville have donated $1.5 million to the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation’s fundraising campaign to supply medical equipment for the new Patient Care Tower at Penticton Regional Hospital.

$1.5 million donation to support medical foundation campaign

The fundraising goal for the Penticton Hospital expansion got a big boost this week from the Melville family.

The fundraising goal for the Penticton Hospital expansion got a big boost this week from the Melville family.

George and Sylvia Melville announced on Oct. 15 they were donating $1.5 million to the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation’s $20-million campaign to supply the medical equipment for the new Patient Care Tower at PRH.

“We have a real connection with Penticton as a family. My parents lived in Naramata for years and we have a place in Peachland,” said George Melville, co-owner of the very successful Boston Pizza International which opened its first franchise restaurant in Penticton in the early 1970s.

“We gather as a family in the Okanagan, so there was a connection when I heard about it and thought we would like to help,” said Melville. “I think it is really important that Penticton have a regional hospital of a greater magnitude than what is there now, so I was very happy to hear of the plans to expand and grow the facility.”

The Melvilles have deep connections to Penticton. Both George and Sylvia are graduates of Penticton Secondary, where they met. They eventually married and both of their children were born at Penticton Regional Hospital.

Melville said he has many happy memories of Penticton, growing up here and going into practice as a chartered accountant from 1962 to 1973 before leaving to join the Boston Pizza partnership with Jim Treliving.

“I had lots of good years there. It’s a fabulous community, great people but the business drew us to Vancouver in order to grow. As a family we have never lost our connection with Penticton over the years, it has always been our hometown,” said Melville.

Tom and Betty Melville, George’s parents, were deeply embedded in the community and PRH. For a number of years, his father served as the chair of the Penticton Hospital Board, and his mother, with a background in nursing, was a volunteer with the Hospital Auxiliary.

“What an inspiration this family has been to Penticton,” said Janice Perrino, the medical foundation’s executive director. “For people like the Melvilles, they have lived it. They saw it from their parents, they saw it through the birth of their own children here. They know exactly what this hospital means.”

The Melvilles’ donation is a substantial addition to the fundraising campaign, which now amounts to between three and four million dollars. But Perrino said they still have a long way to go to meet the $20 million goal needed to equip the 84 rooms, five operating theatres and other amenities in the new tower which is expected to begin construction in 2016, and be completed in 2019.

“We are going to make sure that every room is open and every room is equipped. With the help of people like the Melvilles, it can be done,” said Perrino. “Our hope is that other families come forward, families that had their success and their start in Penticton come forward to help as well.

“What they do for our community will give decades of care.”