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Friends provide vital lifeline to Arts Together

The Friends have recently provided a grant of £4,440 to Arts Together for its Wellbeing Service in Marlborough and Pewsey.

Since 2000, Arts together have worked with frail older people in rural Wiltshire, providing up to 6 stimulating art projects spread over 30 sessions each year.  The Wellbeing Service provides essential support in Marlborough and Pewsey to its members – aged between 79 and 92 years old – so that they are able to attend and participate – and also enjoy a home-cooked nourishing meal together.

As Arts Together manager, Karolyne Fudge Malik, explained to the Friends:

“We aim to improve health and wellbeing and combat the damage caused by isolation and long periods of loneliness which include loss of confidence and self-esteem, reduced mobility, depression, increased confusion and risk of falls and reduced life expectancy.  We aim to provide the interest, stimulation, companionship, fun and sense of purpose which are otherwise missing from our members’ lives.  As a result, members tell us they feel part of a supportive community and feel more confident to make their own choices and take an active role.  With confidence renewed they feel better able to cope with issues in daily life that had threatened their independence.  Our services are not time-limited as we know that older people forced to return to a solitary life would soon deteriorate mentally and/or physically.  As their needs change we adjust our support accordingly and we are proud that so many choose to attend till the end knowing that they are safe and among friends.

“We believe that older people with complex needs still have skills, gifts and a desire to carry on learning if enabled to do so.  We train our artists and group volunteers to understand members’ conditions and to find ways to overcome physical and mental barriers to complete participation.  They make adaptations to tools and techniques and ensure that members have aids to ease their conditions eg there are table top easels so that people with arthritis in their necks and spines do not have to lean forward and for someone who has panic attacks there is a separate table when needed. Volunteers slowly and clearly re-explain and demonstrate artist’s instructions to those with hearing loss, learning difficulties or memory problems.  Members are encouraged to interpret projects in their own way using their individual skills, insights and experiences.  In daily life they have few opportunities to choose how they will spend their day, but in their groups they take on active roles – filling registers, clearing up, bringing in materials for projects or small treats to share.  They have a new sense of purpose.”

It was recently reported in the local media that Arts Together was on the brink of closure due to lack of funding.  The grant from the Friends will enable the Wellbeing Service for Marlborough and Pewsey – and a vital component of the Arts Together service – to keep running for another year.

March 2019


Friends part-fund purchase of Raizer chairs to assist Community First Responders

The Friends have part-funded the purchase by Pewsey Community Area Partnership of two Raizer chairs for their local Community First Responders.

Raizer Chair

The Pewsey Community Area Partnership had already raised £3,500 through donations (from local parishes and the Pewsey Area Board Health Fund) when it approached the Friends for funding.  The Friends provided the remaining £2,690 required to make the purchases.

The Raizer chairs will help local Community First Responders (“CFRs”) who tend to elderly residents in the Pewsey and Marlborough areas who have had a fall – but are uninjured – by allowing a single CFR attending the call to help the person to their feet safely.

CFRs are volunteers, working to support the South Western Ambulance Service, covering a large rural area.

As Pewsey Community Area Partnership explained, when submitting their grant application to the Friends, “Low priority calls, such as falls, can take hours before an ambulance is available to respond.  By enabling CFR volunteers to help those not needing an ambulance to get to their feet safely, that is a call saved that can go to a life-threatening incident.  This is a win-win situation for all concerned.”

Click here for the Marlborough News article about the state-of-the-art Raizer chairs.

25 February 2019


Great Bedwyn Surgery conversion of old store room to bright new office space and consultation room

Great Bedwyn Surgery New Office and Consultation Space

Great Bedwyn Surgery have recently transformed their old record store room (formerly “the privy”) into a fantastic light and airy office space, with the help of grants from both Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group and the Friends of Savernake Hospital.

The old store room (formerly the privy) at Great Bedwyn Surgery

Great Bedwyn Surgery had almost outgrown its existing premises (a converted Victorian schoolhouse).  To improve the Doctor/Patient experience, a decision was made in early 2018 to digitise old paper records of all patients, and securely store these notes at an accredited central store.  The entire paper record for each patient now sits within the electronic record of all registered patients, and is easily retrievable by the GP in a consultation.

Having been able to store records remotely, the surgery was then able to think about converting the somewhat dark and cramped store room (formerly “the privy”)  into useable office workspace, and an additional consulting room, for external visitors such as counsellors/stop smoking advisor/GP training etc.

Total costs of the conversion were just over £5600: – 2/3 of the costs were met by the CCG, and the other 1/3 (just over £1,870) was provided in the form of a grant from the Friends of Savernake Hospital and the Community.

Keith Marshall, Practice Manager, said “The Practice is very grateful for the help and assistance provided by Wiltshire CCG and the Friends of Savernake Hospital and the Community.   This new workspace, will enable the Practice to extend its training capacity for new GPs, and help to accommodate the ever-increasing number of attached professionals to Practices that is/will be occurring over the next few years under the NHS Forward Plan.”

Janet Louth, Chairman of the Friends, commented, “This is an extremely innovative and effective transformation of an old record store room into much-needed office and consultation space at the surgery.”

25 February 2019


ARK’s new defibrillator

Photo of ARK volunteers with the defibrillator – taken at Freeman’s Marsh, Hungerford. It is locations such as these when ARK volunteers are far away from any town or village
defibrillators that a portable defibrillator is seen as being so important.

Set out below is the text of a press release being sent by ARK to the local media about the portable defibrillator which the Friends match funded:

“Action for the River Kennet (ARK) are delighted to have been able to purchase a portable defibrillator to be taken wherever their volunteer tasks and activities are running throughout the year.

The Friends of Savernake Hospital and the Community have generously match funded this potentially lifesaving piece of equipment for ARK, a local charity which is also the Rivers Trust for the Kennet catchment.

The defibrillator has the potential to be used on any member of the community wherever ARK are working.

ARK’s Project Officer and Volunteer Co-ordinator Anna Forbes said, ‘We have 170+ volunteers of all ages often working in large led groups in and by the river at locations that are quite remote.  Several volunteers and myself are in date first aiders and we see the defib as an extension of this.  No training is needed to operate the defibrillator and I hope we never have to use it, but it is good to know we have it.’

If a defibrillator is used and effective CPR is performed within 3-5 minutes of cardiac arrest, the chance of survival increases from 6% to 74%.”

25 February 2019


Historical Grants List

We have just finished the job of converting  to Word and PDF the carefully collated type-written records of a former trustee, which out the grants given by the Friends from 1958 to 2003.

Click on our Hospital History page for more details.

30 January 2019


Appeals targets reached by grant applicant Brighter Futures

As previously reported, the Friends have supported Brighter Futures with grants both towards their Radiotherapy Appeal and, more recently, their Special Care Baby Unit Incubator Appeal.  As many readers will be aware, Brighter Futures is the charity supporting Great Western Hospital and community health services across Wiltshire.

On 6 December 2018, Brighter Futures reached their £2.9 million fundraising target for their Radiotherapy Appeal – and will be using the money to purchase key clinical equipment for the new Radiotherapy Unit in Swindon.  More recently, the Secretary of State has approved the loan for the main construction project – which was the final major milestone in the charity’s efforts to provide radiotherapy services locally – therefore meaning that patients will no longer have to travel to and from Oxford daily for radiotherapy treatment.

In both 2015 and 2017, the Friends of Savernake Hospital and the Community provided maximum grants of £10,000 to Brighter Futures towards the Radiotherapy Appeal.  The Friends are delighted to hear of their success in reaching their fundraising target.

Brighter Futures has also recently announced that it has hit its £175,000 target to replace five of the 10 incubators in the Special Care Baby Unit at Great Western Hospital with new state-of-the-art incubators.  As reported by Brighter Futures, “These new machines will help deliver care that is over and above the existing NHS budget.  The new incubators will respond to the changing and complex demands of our little patients from delivery to discharge, creating a seamless healing micro environment”.

Brighter Futures is keeping the appeal open so that they might be in a position to help replace some of the remaining five incubators.

9 January 2019


2018 round up from the Friends – message from Chairman, Janet Louth

“It has been another busy year for the Friends – with the added responsibility of GDPR compliance.  So many of you, in replying to our “Please may we keep in touch?” GDPR mailout, responded with generous donations.  Thank you to you all.

As a small committee of trustees, we feel a great responsibility when we have to assess grant applications and decide which should be supported.  We endeavour to use Friends charity funds as prudently as possible – with a view not only to the present healthcare needs of the local community but to the longer term as well.


Thank you to the Friends volunteers for helping to run the hospital Shop and for taking the trolley shop up to patients on Ailesbury Ward each weekday.  The home-made raffle prizes provided by our knitters and bakers etc are always a great success, a wonderful fundraiser, and a delight to see.  Thank you also to my fellow trustees – and in particular trustee (and volunteer) Nelson who is stepping down from duties shortly.  He has been a steady and good-humoured team player and we shall be sorry to see him go.  We are fortunate that Keith Marshall will be re-joining the committee early next year.  However, we would, as always, welcome any newcomers who feel they might have the time to attend 4-5 daytime meetings during the year.

Wishing you a safe and happy Christmas and all the best for 2019.”

To read a complete copy of Janet’s newsletter, please click on the link: 2018 Christmas newsletter.

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