A Warm Welcome from the Friends’ Chairman

Janet Louth, Friends Chairman

Our Grant Recipients

As a charity providing healthcare-related grants to the local community, our grant recipients are many and varied – as you will see from our Grants and Latest News webpages.

Over the past 12 months (ie since January 2018) we have continued to support the GP practices in the Marlborough and Pewsey areas.  In late 2018, the Friends committed to part-funding the refurbishment and conversion of an old storage room at Great Bedwyn Surgery into a patient consultation room.  The Friends have also provided the Kennet and Avon Medical Partnership with funds to help purchase a replacement vaccine fridge, a specimen fridge and auroscope.  And in the past few days, the Friends have also provided funds for the purchase of a new triage couch at Pewsey Surgery.

Other grant beneficiaries over the past few months have been Brighter Futures for their special care baby incubator appeal.  As reported on our Latest News webpage, not only have Brighter Futures reached their target for this appeal, but also their Radiotherapy Appeal target of £2.9 million which was also supported by the Friends with two maximum grants of £10,000, the second of which qualified for matched funding provided by Greenham Common Trust – hence increasing that second £10,000 grant to £20,000.  The Radiotherapy Appeal money will be used to purchase key clinical equipment for the new Radiotherapy Unit in Swindon.  We look forward to the opening of this unit – particularly as it will mean an end to the exhausting journey to and from Oxford endured at present by so many in the local area who need urgent radiotherapy treatment.

At Savernake Hospital, the friends have provided grants to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) for new patient furniture; physiotherapy stairs for Ailesbury Ward, to assist with the rehabilitation of elderly patients; and a specialist lens for the Savernake eye clinic.

We have also provided grants to the children’s hospice in Devizes – Julia’s House – and to the Wellbeing Service run by Arts Together in Marlborough and Pewsey.

One recent change in funding, going forward, is that the Friends will no longer be responsible for the upkeep of the community defibrillators in Marlborough which it purchased and installed with bequest money in 2012.  These defibrillators have been recognised as community assets by Marlborough Town Council, who will now be responsible for their upkeep and replacement.  Since their installation in 2012, the Friends has taken responsibility for the cost of their upkeep including replacement batteries and pads – amounting to over £1,400 in 2019 alone.

Instead the Friends are currently “ring-fencing” a certain amount of funds to be used specifically for the part-funding of new defibrillators.  We are aware that the defibrillator environment is changing – including a move towards the purchase of portable defibrillators. Recently the Friends part-funded a portable defibrillator for Action for the River Kennet to be used when volunteers are working in remote locations in the countryside.  If you are interested in learning more about the evolving defibrillator environment, please look at my 2018 Christmas Newsletter on our Latest News web page.

On a smaller – but no less important – scale, the Friends ensure every year that every patient who has to remain in hospital at Savernake Hospital at Christmas receives a Christmas gift.  Some of our patients on Ailesbury Ward are especially elderly and do not have friends or family nearby.  The daily trolley shop visit by our volunteers ensures that each patient sees a friendly visiting face and has the opportunity for a chat.  These are small gestures, but for someone who is confined to a hospital bed, these gestures are invaluable.

We are always delighted to hear from our grant recipients.  At our AGM in May, we received updates from Brighter Futures on their Radiotherapy Appeal (see above) and from Alzheimer’s Support who had previously received £7,000 from the Friends to support their holistic dementia services in our area.

Background to Savernake Hospital – present and past

Savernake Hospital opened in 1866 and, like all cottage hospitals which continue to exist, has evolved greatly over the years.

Savernake Hospital offers a wide variety of clinics and outpatient services, as well as the Ailesbury Ward (which has recently divided into two units – one dealing with intensive rehabilitation, the other providing traditional community care), Cotswold House (the eating disorders unit), CAMHS and the Prospect Hospice outpatient centre (established with assistance from the Friends through matched funding in 2015).

The Friends have become enthusiastic collectors of fragments of history relating to the hospital’s past.  We feel it is important to keep a record of the hospital’s history and those that have been connected with it, so that others can understand why the Friends continue to support it so passionately.

We have a dedicated history page on our website relating to the hospital’s history, including some fascinating accounts, insights and anecdotes from both former patients and staff.  Special thanks go to former committee member, Val Compton, for her work on this history project.

If you have any anecdotes or photographs relating to Savernake Hospital’s past, we would be delighted to hear from you.

Background to the Friends

The “Friends of Savernake Hospital and the Community” charity was set up in 1958 (then under the name of “The League of Friends of the Marlborough Hospitals”) by a group of public-spirited citizens to provide financial support to Savernake Hospital and the Children’s Hospital.  Now only Savernake Hospital remains, but the work of the Friends has continued.

In fact, with the reduction of centrally-provided local healthcare in recent years, we have seen a broadening of the role of the Friends.  We now provide grants in the wider community in Marlborough and the surrounding areas.  On top of this, we continue to provide support for our hospital, including the hospital shop and shop trolley, both run by a super team of dedicated volunteers and our Shop Coordinator, who also involve themselves in running raffles, baking and crafting in order to raise further funds for the Friends.

If you visit our “Grants” page on this website, you can see the full support we have given to various healthcare related bodies over recent years, as well as apply online for a healthcare-related grant.

Donations and bequests

So often when we – and those close to us – are in good health, we take that good health for granted.  It is only when faced with illness or disability that we become aware of the myriad of local health professionals and support organisations  – and often it is only then that we appreciate their efforts in making us better or enabling us to manage our illness or disability.

It is heart-warming how many members of the community have fond memories of Savernake Hospital and have become life members of the Friends, and indeed made generous donations or bequests to the Friends – or who have simply supported us by registering with Give as You Live.

It is this support that enables us to embark on a wide range of projects specifically aimed at bringing medical treatment into the community and saving patients from making costly and time-consuming trips to hospital, precisely at a time when they wish to be closer to home.

We pride ourselves on our ability to transform a bequest, however small, directly into a healthcare-related benefit.

We need your continued support so that we can continue to provide health grants to benefit those in the local community who need it most.  Even the smallest donation can go a long way.

Thank you

On behalf of the Friends’ committee I would like to say thank you to the community for your loyal support.  Long may this partnership continue.

Janet Louth
Chairman, Friends of Savernake Hospital and the Community

January 2019


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