Crazy Hats charity in final huge donation to KGH after 20 years of support

Crazy Hats Appeal was founded by former headteacher Glennis Hooper

By Alison Bagley
Friday, 12th November 2021, 12:49 pm

A dedicated local breast cancer charity fundraiser is hanging up her hat after donating the final £390,000 to Kettering General Hospital after 20 years of incredible work.

The Crazy Hats Appeal is paying for a brand new comfortable lounge and waiting area for breast care patients to be built inside the hospital’s Treatment Centre.

It is the latest in a series of enormous donations by the charity which has raised almost £3.5m since its launch in 2001 by breast cancer survivor and former Kettering headteacher Glennis Hooper.

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Glennis will be hanging up her hat after fundraising to improve facilities for people being treated for breast cancer

Glennis was diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery at KGH in the summer of 2001, with follow-up treatment at Northampton General Hospital and Leicester Royal Infirmary.

She said: “It started as a fundraising event at my school - which raised more than £20,000 - and has just snowballed on from there.

“Our final donation will be £350,000 to build the new waiting area and £40,000 for landscaping and to develop the garden area adjoining the waiting area.

“We felt that this was an improvement that would be much appreciated by breast care patients and other patients receiving care in the Treatment Centre."

The final chapter in the Crazy Hats story will see a brand new comfortable lounge and waiting area for breast care patients to be built inside KGH’s Treatment Centre.

Over the years the charity’s fundraising has included 17 sponsored walks at Wicksteed Park and hundreds of other smaller events and kind donations by supportive local groups, businesses, and individuals.

The charity’s contribution to Kettering General Hospital’s breast service – which has received £1.4 million over 20 years - has been immense.

Milestone donations have included:

• In 2001 the appeal bought the hospital its first Faxitron machine – a special X-ray machine used to X-ray tissue samples to aid accurate diagnosis – followed by a second one in 2011 and a third in 2013

An artist's impression of how the extension to the treatment centre will look GSS

• In 2007 it supported the opening of the trust’s Treatment Centre by donating £100,000 to fund a cafe, high quality decoration in its breast care rooms and artwork

• Bought more than £90,000 worth of gamma probes – equipment used to do biopsies to check if cancer has spread - with two in 2006 and three in 2016

• In 2009 donated £65,500 to buy a vacuum assisted biopsy unit – reducing the need for women to travel to other hospitals in Nottingham or London, or possibly require more invasive open biopsy surgery.

• In 2010 donated £14,000 worth of state-of-art liposuction and fat transfer equipment to support reconstructive surgery

Glennis Hooper hands over the cheque to Chief Executive of KGH Deborah Needham

• Donated a long list of other specialist equipment such as ultrasound scanners, headlights for surgeons, and a microscope

• Supported lots improvements for patients such as TVs, microwaves, and wheelchairs.

Salam Musa is Kettering General Hospital’s clinical lead for the breast service, and a consultant onco-plastic surgeon who uses the equipment supplied by Crazy Hats.

He said: “The Crazy Hats Appeal has made an enormous contribution to patient care at Kettering General Hospital.

“The charity has helped us to constantly improve and update our equipment to enable us to meeting growing demand for breast cancer care – something needed by about 600 new patients in Northamptonshire each year.

“Their support has also been a tremendous morale boost for our staff and we really can’t thank them enough for their incredible efforts over such a long time period.

“This final donation will help us to further improve care for our breast cancer patients - and outside of those clinics for other patients as well - by providing the Treatment Centre with a much-improved waiting area, surrounded by a small landscaped garden.”

The new lounge and waiting area will be built by infilling a small outside quadrangle area in the centre of the Treatment Centre – which is currently little used.

Over the next few months the trust will finalise architectural and design plans, seek tenders from specialist firms, with work expected to start next year.

Kettering General Hospital’s chief executive, Deborah Needham, said: “Glennis and her team have done something absolutely extraordinary raising huge amounts of money to improve care for local breast care patients.

“This final donation will mean the charity’s 20 year fundraising campaign ends where it began – supporting improved care at Kettering General Hospital.

“I want to thank every local individual, group and business that has supported Crazy Hats and hence supported our local hospitals.”

Following the donation Glennis and the trustees from the charity will continue to be involved in the design and completion of the new waiting area. The area is being designed by local architects GSS.

The donation itself will be administrated by Kettering General Hospital and the Northamptonshire Health Charity – a body which oversees donations to hospitals and health organisations in Northamptonshire - as a protected donation, just for spending on the project.

Glennis said: “It has taken longer than expected due to the pandemic but we are really excited and look forward to cutting the ribbon of an enhanced bright and cheery area, with a garden, that will not only be more welcoming, private and comfortable for patients, but for staff too.

“A great deal of thought and planning has gone in to ensuring it meets the needs of everyone.

“To this end, even though Crazy Hats may be no longer, I will still be part of the design and planning team to see the project through to the end.

“Our loyal and dedicated team at Crazy Hats worked tirelessly to raise this huge amount of money, with wonderful support from local companies and, of course, the general public.

“We owe it to them to leave this lasting legacy. It is very sad that we are having to close the charity but I know the time is right - none of us are getting any younger!

“We truly thank everyone associated with Kettering General Hospital - far too many to mention - and we wish them every success in the pursuit of the need to create a bigger and better hospital for the north of Northamptonshire."