23rd Oct, 2016

Seven decades of helping others

Evesham Editorial 9th Oct, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

THE FRIENDS of Evesham Community Hospital celebrate its 70th anniversary next year.

Observer editor Rob George found out more about the hard-working volunteers and their many varied fund-raising roles.

“We’ve just welcomed a lovely 80 year old into the group, I think she is fabulous. She came to us and said she was bored and wanted to help out.”

Frances Smith, chair of the Friends of Evesham Community Hospital, is talking about the latest member of the band of volunteers who lend their support to the hospital.

Formed in 1945, the Friends of Evesham Community Hospital raises money to support the work of the Waterside venue and is an integral part of the local community.

Members have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds over the years for not only vital equipment but items to make a patients stay in hospital more comfortable.

Among the items purchased over the years is a ultrasound machine for £78,000 in 2010 which saw the friends obtain £20,000 from the local PCT.

Bilirubin meters for £20,000, a £3,000 defribulator and £1,300 on walking aids are just some of the other purchases made by members in recent years.

Comfy chairs, CD players and even televisions have also been on the shopping list as the friends work closely with staff at the hospital to ensure patients benefit.

One of the most special purchases was made thanks to a £16,000 legacy from Arthur William Hooton, who for many years worked in the physiotherapy department.

Following his death, Mr Hooton left explicit instructions for his legacy to be given to the friends to fund physiotherapy equipment for the Waterside site.

The friends hit the headlines themselves in 2005 when Evesham Community Hospital was threatened with closure.

A staggering 32,000 signatures were collected on a petition and presented to Downing Street and nearly 10 years both the

hospital and the friends are still going strong.

The group has also taken over the running of the shop at the hospital and once a year, the profits from the shop are used to buy equipment for the hospital.

And Frances hopes kind-hearted local residents will come forward to help the group into their eighth decade.

“We hope more people will come forward and become members, you can help out as much as you want, from volunteering to help in the shop, rattling a fund-raising tin outside a supermarket or joining the committee.” she said.

“We hold meetings on a regular basis, the matron at Evesham Community Hospital comes to speak to us and we also have visitors from the Health and Care Trust who talk about their vision of the future for the hospital.

“Years ago GPs used to get involved with us but with the exception of our president and former GP Geoff Burton and Neil Townshend we don’t have the same level of interaction.

“Our door is always open though and we would love local GPs to get involved and see how we can work together for the benefit of patients at the hospital.” she added.

Anyone who wishes to volunteer is invited to call Frances Smith on 01386 443157 or e-mail jhsmith@jhsmith.plus.com for more information.