An organisation which has improved the lives of countless thousands of local people through its charitable work is disbanding after more than 70 years.
The League of Friends of Kettering and District Hospitals (League of Friends) held a final meeting for its supporters on Sunday (January 22) at Kettering General Hospital’s Recreation Hall.
The event celebrated its tremendous contribution to the local community - especially to its main beneficiary, Kettering General Hospital.
But the organisation has also contributed to other healthcare facilities in Rushden, Corby and Wellingborough.
Since its launch in 1947 as the Samaritans’ Fund (later renamed the League of Friends in the 1980s) the organisation has raised about £700,000 for the hospital.
League of Friends Committee Chair Margaret Bauchop said: “It’s a sad day in the sense we are disbanding but also a happy one because we are celebrating the enormous contribution our members have made to their local hospital over the last 70 years.
“Over the years we have had literally had thousands of members – many of them former staff at the hospital – and we have arranged hundreds of fundraising events.
“We have bought a very large amount of equipment for the hospital and its patients including beds, chairs, and medical, surgical and diagnostic machines of all kinds.
“We have also helped to refurbish many areas of the hospital for both patients and staff – one recent example was the £28,610 donation to the hospital’s Revive the Rec Hall Appeal to refurbish its staff recreation hall.”
The group had 200 members who each paid an annual subscription fee to enable them to participate in fundraising events and activities.
Volunteers raised money via a many different activities including theatre trips, holidays, beetle drives, fashion show, fun runs, quizzes and parties.
Over the years members have visited attractions in France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, as well as many in the UK including Buckingham Palace, Oxford, Cambridge, Thursford, Cornwall and the Peak District.
Mrs Bauchop said: “While we have all thoroughly enjoyed raising money to help patients at the hospital sadly both the increase in the cost of modern equipment and the lack of new and younger members means that we cannot continue to operate.
“We would like to thank everyone out there who has been a member with us at one time or who has supported our many events over the years.
“The work we have done has helped improve the lives of many thousands of patients and enabled staff to do their work with some of the latest equipment or in improved environments.”
Mrs Bauchop said the League would like to thank former pathology directorate general manager Mark Webb and current pathology manager James Maclean for their support over the years in co-ordinating donations.
Kettering General Hospital chairman Graham Foster said: “The League of Friends have been just that – a true friend to Kettering General Hospital.
“They have stood by us for a large part of our history and their kindness and hard work has enabled us to do so much more for local people.
“They have helped make our wards and departments more comfortable and provided us with countless pieces of important equipment.
“We want to thank each and every member of the League for their amazing work and all of those local people who have also made contributions by attending fundraising events.”
Longest serving members remember some good times
The two longest-serving committee members are president Derek Bryant, who has served for 46 years, and Pat Carter (now Listler), who has served for 40 years.
Pat, who lives in Kettering, said: “Being a member of the League of Friends has been like being part of a large happy family.
“We have had a tremendous amount of fun on our many trip and excursions, quizzes, garden parties, fashion shows, beetle drives, walks, and at our fundraising events.
“Over the years we have also felt that we have contributed a lot to the community by fulfilling the purpose of our organisation to raise funds to support patients and staff in the local health services.”
Derek, who also lives in Kettering, said: “Being a member of the League of Friends has been a great pleasure for me. I have attended probably about 50 presentations to the hospital over the years and it has been great to see how the money we have raised has been used and just how much staff have appreciated our support.”
Some recent examples of their work:
2013 – £28,610 to the Revive the Rec Hall Appeal
The League of Friends were one of the first supporters of the hospital’s Revive the Rec Hall Appeal launched in 2013 to completely refurbish an aging staff recreation hall built in 1965.
They made a donation of £28,610 to the hospital’s £110,000 Appeal and enabled the hospital to complete the first phase of that refurbishment by revamping the hall’s toilets, installing a kitchenette, improving flooring, lighting, ramp access for the disabled, and adding double glazed doors and a heater to its reception area.
On November 27, 2013, representatives from the League cut a ribbon and officially opened the first phase of the refurbishment which has been completed thanks to their donation.
2012 - £23,000 to the Foundation Wing
The League of Friends of Kettering and District Hospitals made some major donations to KGH in 2012.
Top of the list was a very substantial £23,000 donation to the new Foundation Wing for eight paediatric pull down beds for parents to use when they want to stay beside their sick child in hospital.
Another donation was £2,000 worth of support for Cranford Ward including falls mats – mats that make a noise to alert staff when a patient gets up out of a chair or bed if the patient may be unsteady on their feet – and a microwave.
And Leagues of Friends members also gave a donation of Doppler machines and a cheque for £800 to the maternity unit.
2011-2012 - League of Friends donate £21,768
The League of Friends of Kettering and District Hospitals donated an amazing £21,768 to KGH in 2011-12.
They made improvements to parts of the hospital including:
A bereavement room in our maternity department
A waiting area in our outpatients department
The waiting area in the Centenary Wing
Improvements to Barnwell B ward
Special couches for Nene Park Outpatients Clinic
A TV for the staff restaurant