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Hospital’s Friends look forward as centenary fete is big success

FUNDRAISERS have committed more than a quarter of a million pounds to improve the Bognor Regis hospital.

 

The Friends charity at Bognor Regis War Memorial Hospital has told the NHS it will spend the money to improve the care of patients in two departments.

 

Its members will contribute £160,000 to a new physiotherapy unit. A further £112,000 will go towards a new densitometry unit.

 

Friends’ chairman Brian Knight said: “We hope the new physiotherapy unit is going to be happening this year. The NHS is drawing up the plans now.”

 

The huge backing of the Shripney Road hospital, run by Sussex Community Foundation NHS Trust, is only possible because of continued support from the town’s residents. This was shown at the annual fete last Saturday.

 

Mr Knight estimated a record crowd of at least 2,000 people went along to the event. He expected the Friends to make £5,000 for future projects.

 

“We get the money in and we spend it for the patients’ benefits,” he said. “I’m delighted with the success of the fete for the hospital’s centenary.

 

“It was raining when we were setting it up but the sun’s come out now and it has been absolutely packed. Some of the stalls ran out of goods after 90 minutes. The event has been that popular.”

 

About 25 stalls were sited in the hospital’s grounds, with an array of goods, from plants to books to clothes.

 

An historic touch was provided by the matron, Karen Richards, and her Arundel counterpart, Elaine Cooke, wearing 1919 nursing costumes which matched those in a photograph of the original hospital’s opening on July 16 that year.

 

Karen said: “This is our way of wishing the hospital a happy birthday. It’s remarkable that the hospital is 100 years old.

 

“This is a really friendly hospital and the community here are really passionate about it – and it has an absolutely wonderful Friends.”

 

Elaine said: “People have been really pleased to see us like this. We have had a lot of photos taken.”

 

A birthday celebrations book also proved popular, with centenary messages from well-wishers.

 

Among them were Lynda Siddall who wrote: “Happy birthday BRWMH, 100 years – amazing. Keep up the good work.”

 

Denise Miller wrote: “Congratulations on your centenary. Keep doing a sterling job.”

 

Sam Piper, a community assistant with the trust, said the fete was one of a few thought to still survive.

 

“That shows how much of a community hospital this is,” she said. “Although we didn’t open until 1pm, people were queuing up and trying to buy goods at 11.30am. It’s been such an amazing day.

 

“People always say how much the hospital means to them. It’s not just the services here that we provide for people to come to us.

 

“That are a lot of services that go out to people in the community.”

 

Miniature train rides were available from Chichester Model Engineers and a series of singers kept crowds entertained.

 

Exhibitors at the fete included Felpham Art Group. Its chairman, Terry Collins, and Monica Kotulla, treasurer, looked after some 30 paintings on display. Four were quickly sold.

 

Terry said: “The Friends are our adopted charity and we have something like 37 paintings on show at the hospital all the time. We donate 20 per cent of the proceeds of those that we sell to the Friends.

 

“We also collect donations for the Friends throughout the year and give a proportion of the money we make at our annual exhibition in Arundel.”

 

last year saw the group donate some £250 to the Friends.

 

“The hospital is enormously important to people around Bognor Regis. It’s most people’s first port of call if they have a minor injury. This is the place to come.

 

“It has a special place in people’s thoughts when it comes to medical services in this area,” he said.

 

The Friends’ future spending at the hospital comes after it donated £40,000 to creating the current garden at the entrance.

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