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Friends Grant to the Great Bedwyn Friendship and Mobility Group – A Positive Impact on Overall Health and Wellbeing

The Group sessions are a time for fitness and and catching up with friends

The Friends are always pleased to receive feedback on how their grants have benefitted grant recipients.  They are therefore delighted with the many positive responses they have been receiving from grateful members of the Great Bedwyn Friendship and Mobility Group.

Late last year the Friends provided a grant of £1,000 to the Great Bedwyn Friendship and Mobility Group to help with the cost of running its fitness sessions.

The Group, now in its second year, enables older and more vulnerable people living in and around Great Bedwyn to attend regular afternoon fitness sessions, whilst also combining it with a social occasion.  It is the only exercise group in Great Bedwyn that is designed with older people in mind, and includes activites such as chair yoga.  Additionally, the Group helps support carers who are able to take a break while the person they care for is supported at the Group.

There can be no doubt that the Group is having a positive impact in enabling older and vulnerable people in Great Bedwyn to maintain their mobility and overall health and wellbeing.

Here are some of the comments from the Group’s members:

“Mobility and Friendship.   It is what it says!  I have enjoyed coming to these exercise sessions since you set up this group and appreciate it more each week.   Hen and Jenny create interesting lessons for us, ones that suit our different abilities.  The ‘workouts’ are stimulating and relaxing, are fun and, above all, beneficial – for both mobility and friendship. It has brought a lot of people together who might not otherwise have met, and created new friendships.  The tea and biscuits at ‘half time’ are welcome too.”

“I have loved the combination of fitness and chair yoga, and coupled with the tea and biscuit and group friendliness, I have really enjoyed attending.  I’ve noticed the physical and mental benefits and I actively look forward to each session.”

Great Bedwyn Friendship and Mobility Group

“I have only been coming to the class for a short time but find the exercises helpful to strengthen my legs (which can be wobbly at times). I also enjoy the yoga which I have not done before.”

​ “Every week I look forward to going to the exercise and yoga classes as we have such fun, make new friends and enjoy the social side over a cup of tea and biscuits.  I feel I have benefited health wise as I am more supple and fitter, and feel years younger!  When I miss a class I notice I am not as agile and can’t wait for the next Wednesday to see my friends.”

“It is about one year since I suffered my minor stroke. My right arm and leg were affected and the classes on Wednesday afternoons have been invaluable in getting them to move in a way which is more or less back to normal. A number of my fellow participants have commented on the progress I have made.  The classes make us work hard but they are also good fun. The whole group is very friendly which makes the experience even more enjoyable.”

Mary Soellner, Care Coordinator for Great Bedwyn Surgery, who submitted the grant application, told the Friends “Our fitness trainer is now working in some local care homes, having built up her experience in our class, so we really feel that we are benefitting the wider community….

The Friends wish the Group every success for the future.



January 2018

Exclusive Preview of Marlborough St Mary’s

Marlborough St Mary’s Primary School – Exclusive Preview Evening – September 2017 – The Friends thank Marlborough News for use of this photograph

On the evening of 5th September, the Friends – represented by chairman Janet Louth and committee member Lorna Hamzah – attended an exclusive preview of the new Marlborough St. Mary’s school site.

As previously reported, the Friends provided a grant of £4,000 earlier this year to assist Marlborough St Mary’s with the purchase of equipment for a sensory room for two Resource Bases in the school’s new building.  These facilities will support about 20 of the school’s children who have a range of special educational and complex needs.

Like other invitees, both Janet and Lorna were greatly impressed with the new school building, particularly the spaciousness, light and the facilities provided.



Friends provide grants to Kennet and Avon Medical Partnership

Since June the Friends of Savernake Hospital and the Community (the Friends) have supported a number of grant applications from Kennet and Avon Medical Partnership (the merger of Marlborough Medical Practice and Pewsey Surgery).

In late June the Friends approved a grant of just over £1,360 for the purchase of a new INR machine.  INR machines are used for patients on anti-coagulation therapy.  There are many patients of the Kennet and Avon Medical Partnership (KAMP) that benefit from regular INR testing to verify the correct dosage of warfarin they should be receiving.

The Friends have also covered the purchase of a refurbished ECG machine costing over £600, as well as a new 3-section electric couch costing £718 for patients requiring leg ulcer dressings.

A further £3,000 has been provided by the Friends to assist with other costs in improving and sustaining primary care in the KAMP practice area.  One of those costs has been the £18,000 renewal and improvement of the practice communication system with a digital system for which KAMP had already raised £12,000 before the Friends provided their £3,000 grant.

KAMP currently service 18,000 patients, and the upgraded telephone system is regarded as highly important for patients.  The fully digitised telephone system further joins Marlborough and Pewsey surgeries together and provides a more patient-friendly experience when patients telephone KAMP.

In May 2017, Dr Anna Collins of KAMP attended the Friends’ AGM and explained the increasing stresses put on medical practices nationally.  She described the steps taken by the Marlborough and Pewsey surgeries – including merger – to implement measures identified at a national level as being necessary to ensure GP practices remained sustainable.

Dr Collins explained that merger had not been an easy task, and indeed there had been many meetings.  However, from the GPs’ perspective they now had the benefit of 10 doctors across two sites, together with experienced locums.  Sharing urgent work meant being able to free up routine appointments.  Also, advanced nurse practitioners had started unaccompanied visits, again freeing up GPs further.

Dr Collins conceded that some patients had had to choose whether timing or location of appointments was more important.  However, one advantage of the merger was that Pewsey surgery was now opening earlier two mornings each week.

More generally, as well as greater efficiencies giving the doctors some breathing space and support from a wider cohort of colleagues, the arrangements were helping to protect and preserve primary care in rural communities services by Marlborough and Pewsey.


£7,000 grant to Alzheimer’s Support

Alzheimer’s Support – a support worker and client

The Friends of Savernake Hospital and the Community have provided a £7,000 grant to Alzheimer’s Support to support its activities in the Marlborough and Pewsey areas.

Alzheimer’s Support recently won the contract with Wiltshire Council and the NHS to provide their holistic dementia services across Wiltshire which enable people living with dementia to live well in their own homes and stay connected in their communities.

The grant from the Friends will be used in part to meet the travel costs of the Alzheimer’s Support dementia home support team workers.  The team of home support staff regularly visit over 65 people in the Marlborough and Pewsey community areas, delivering around 3oo hours of home support every month.

In Wiltshire 6,500 people currently live with dementia – a figure expected to rise to 8,500 by 2020 (Healthwatch Wiltshire, Dementia Engagement Report, 2016). In recent years Wiltshire Council and the NHS Clinical Commisioning Group, in response to the rising number of people suffering dementia, created the Wiltshire Dementia Strategy 2014-2021 to deal with dementia needs in the county.  Research for the Strategy revealed gaps in the provision of services, in particular for people with dementia who were still living at home – especially those living alone and in remote rural areas.

While many care homes exist in and around Marlborough, the Strategy reinforces a vision that first and foremost the health and well-being of people with dementia must require person-centred support which allows people to remain in their homes for as long as possible, and to support people to remain independent for as long as possible.

The Alzheimer’s Support workers provide a range of support including:

  • companionship and conversation at home
  • support to continue with a favourite hobby or pastime
  • social trips out – eg to a garden centre, health facility, the library, walks, coffee in town
  • practical help, accompanying shopping trips or hairdressing appointments
  • help collecting pension or paying bills.

Alzheimer’s Support – East Grafton memory cafe

As well as providing financial support for the support workers’ travel costs to reach those living with dementia in the Marlborough and Pewsey areas, some of the grant money will be used for the Alzheimer’s Support memory cafe in East Grafton, and also to provide a much-needed new laptop for the Alzheimer’s Support Care Coordinator for this area.

Alzheimer’s Support CEO, Babs Harris, said, “I would like to thank the Friends of Savernake Hospital so much for their generous contribution to our services.  It is wonderful to receive support for travel costs in the area in particular.  Our support workers provide a lifeline to people who cannot get out and about under their own volition, and in the East of Wiltshire especially, our travel costs are high.  This will make a real difference to the services we can provide locally.


Round up of the first three months of 2017

It has a busy first three months of 2017 for the Friends of Savernake Hospital in terms of grant giving.  Healthcare related grants provided by the Friends to Savernake Hospital and the local community have included the following.

Great Bedwyn Surgery – blood pressure and measuring station

The new year started with a grant of £1,500 to Great Bedwyn Surgery to assist with the purchase of a blood pressure and weight measuring station.  The equipment is aimed at helping to improve the health and wellbeing of patients by encouraging more regular checking of blood pressure and weight.

Marlborough Medical Practice – exit door sensor

A grant of £430 has been provided by the Friends to Marlborough Medical Practice to enable the surgery to install an infrared sensor for patients leaving the waiting room area so that the internal doors will open automatically.  This will greatly assist frail, immobile and wheelchair-bound patients as well as those with prams and buggies.

East Kennet GP Surgeries – replacement of essential equipment for the community nurses

In March the Friends provided a grant to the East Kennet GP Surgeries for the urgent purchase of two Coaguchek machines after existing equipment broke and could not be repaired.  This equipment – which is used to measure the clotting rate of patients’ blood through a simple finger prick test – will be used daily by the community nurses and will benefit housebound patients throughout the East Kennet area, covering Pewsey, Marlborough, Great Bedwyn, Burbage and Ramsbury.

Burbage Surgery – pledge of £2000

The Friends have also pledged £2000 towards the costs of replacing the current external and internal doors at Burbage surgery with electric sliding doors.  The money will be given by the Friends once the remaining amount needed to cover the replacement costs has been raised by the surgery.

Arts Together – Wellbeing Service

The Friends have agreed to a grant of £4250 for Arts Together’s Wellbeing Service in Marlborough and Pewsey.

Since 2000 Arts Together has worked with very frail, isolated older people to counteract the damaging effects of social isolation and extreme loneliness.  The aim of Arts Together is to improve members’ health and wellbeing using a variety of professional art projects to provide that all-important stimulation and social interaction.

The Arts Together Wellbeing Service ensures that all members, whatever their disability are able to attend their groups, participate fully in activities and are able to access additional health or social care support if the need arises.

“We provide fully accessible, safe venues, paid carers to help with personal needs, free door to door escorted transport …. (provided by local community transport groups), reminder calls for members with impaired memory, local volunteers and artists …. and a freshly prepared two-course lunch which for many is the only meal eaten in company all week.  As very few members have social workers these days, we also help them access health or social support when they need it.  In the past, members would stop attending after crises such as hospitalisation, which sapped their confidence.  We now stay in touch, refer them to the help they may need and encourage them to return when they feel able.”  (Karolyne Fudge-Malik, manager, Arts Together).

St Mary’s Primary School (Marlborough) – sensory equipment

The Friends have also agreed to provide a grant of £4000 to assist with the purchase of equipment for a sensory room for the St Mary’s Primary School Resource Base in its new building.  The Resource Bases house up to twenty children up to Year 6 who have a range of Special Educational and Complex Needs.  The items to be purchased with the grant will support the mental and physical health of the children, and enhance and encourage the children’s social and communication abilities.  They will also assist the teaching staff to deliver the Care Plans suggested by other professionals such as occupational therapists, physiotherapist, the Physical and Sensory Impairment Team, the Social Communication Team, speech and language therapists and educational psychologists.

As explained by the school, “The children in the Resource Base classrooms rarely … experience things as we do, due to a range of conditions, such as stress, anxiety, limitation in movement, hearing, behavioural difficulties, cognitive abilities and other barriers to learning.  Sensory equipment will give the opportunity to “bridge” these barriers, creating a relaxing and calming environment which will enhance their mental and physical health”.

Head teacher Anne Schwodler, writing to thank the Friends, stated that “the Resource Base staff are very excited and are busy making plans for what will be a fantastic resource for our very needy children”.

A cheque will be handed over to St Mary’s at our AGM on 10 May (see below).

Savernake Hospital Eye Clinic

The eye clinic at Savernake Hospital is now the proud owner of an OCT machine.

Earlier this month, after discussions with Savernake Hospital’s eye consultant Robin Finlay, the Friends purchased a pre-owned – but fully working – OCT machine for £4,900 plus costs as a gift to Savernake Hospital.

An Optical Coherence Tomography – or OCT – machine is an advance piece of technology used for retinal imagery and analysis.  It provides highly detailed images of the retina and optic nerve.  Brand new, such machines can cost in the region of £50,000.

The machine is seen as securing the ongoing viability of the Savernake Hospital eye clinic which runs once a week.

Great Western Hospital, Swindon has confirmed that it will take responsibility for the ongoing maintenance of the machine.

Julian Phillips (Head of Service Head & Neck, Oral, ENT, Ophthalmology and Community Dentistry, GWH) said of the Friends:

“We are all thrilled that your generosity has enabled the Ophthalmology clinic at Savernake Hospital to be fully utilised.

“Thank you very much once again … for making this happen.  You should both [Robin Finlay and the Friends] be very proud of your decisiveness, dedication and commitment.”

Special thanks must also go to the auctioneers, Hilditch Group Ltd, who generously reimbursed the Friends the amount of the buyer’s premium (£980 plus VAT).  The reimbursed amount will, of course, be applied by the Friends to new grants, as and when they arise.

Looking forward – AGM 10 May 7.30pm – all welcome

The Friends will be holding their AGM on Wednesday 10 May in the Marlborough Town Hall with doors opening at 7.00pm.  Anna Collings of Pewsey Surgery (soon to be merging with Marlborough Medical Practice) will be our speaker.  As reported above, there will also be cheque presentations to Arts Together and St. Mary’s Primary School, Marlborough.



Grants Approved for Marlborough and Pewsey Surgeries

Image result for marlborough medical practiceIn recent weeks the Friends have approved two grant applications from Marlborough and Pewsey surgeries respectively.

In October, the Friends provided over £440 to Marlborough Medical Practice for the purchase of a pulse oximeter to be used for both adult patients and children. Pulse oximeters are a vital piece of medical equipment for general practitioners which are used to painlessly measure blood oxygen levels in the blood.

In November the Friends approved a grant of £750 to assist Pewsey Surgery with the purchase of a replacement spirometer.  A spirometer can be used to diagnose asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other conditions affecting breathing.  It is anticipated that around 500 existing asthma and COPD patients will benefit from the spirometer at Pewsey Surgery.



Grants to Savernake Hospital

The Friends have approved grants for both Ailesbury Ward and Cotswold House (the specialist eating disorder unit) at Savernake Hospital.

The grant to Cotswold House allowed for the purchase of some much needed garden furniture for patients.

In September the Friends provided £200 to Ailesbury Ward for the purchase of rehabilitation aids to be used in conjunction with specialised weekly leisure sessions for patients aimed at speeding up their rehabilitation process and thereby decreasing their length of stay in hospital.  The sessions aim to improve cognitive abilities and movement, as well as increasing social interaction.  The sessions will also provide therapy staff with the opportunity to assess patients engaging in a structured environment.



Prospect Hospice “Pop In Mornings” at Savernake Hospital – October 13th

Would you like to find out more about what Savernake Hospital has to offer for patients and carers at the new Prospect at Savernake centre?

Starting on Thursday 13th October 2016, Prospect Hospice will be holding regular Prospect Pop In at Savernake mornings from 10am until 12pm.  This is a fantastic opportunity to come into your new Prospect Outreach centre, meet the Savernake and Fundraising team members, have a show round, find out about the many ways you can get involved and what Prospect Hospice currently offers for patients and carers at Savernake – all while enjoying a cuppa and a slice of cake!



Cheque Handover to Julia’s House for Devizes Children’s HospiceJulia's House 3

On 13 July the Friends met Ian Wadley, Wiltshire Fundraising Manager for Julia’s House to handover a cheque for £10,000 to help with the building costs of the new Julia’s House children’s hospice in Devizes. Chairman, Janet Louth, together with trustees Pat Harper and Liz Wright attended the cheque handover.

“We’re absolutely delighted to have [the Friends’] support, which will make a fantastic contribution towards the hospice build,” said a spokesperson from Julia’s House.

As reported previously, the new children’s hospice will be the first in Wiltshire providing support to seriously ill children and their families.

Julia's House 2




Friends’ History Project Attracts University Interest

The Friends’ History Project has attracted the attention of academics at Warwick University.

Recently the Friends were contacted by Professor Roberta Bevins from the Centre for the History of Medicine at Warwick University.  Professor Bevins is currently researching the cultural history of the NHS as part of a Wellcome Trust funded project.  At her request we have given permission to Professor Bevins to reproduce some of the photographs on our website for her project, which indeed looks fascinating.  You can learn more about Professor Bevins’ research by going to the People’s History of the NHS website at



An Abundance of Grants from the Friends of Savernake Hospital

In recent weeks the Friends have received and approved a number of grant applications from groups involved in helping those suffering from illness and disability in the local community.

The Friends have just approved a grant of £6,000 for Hope For Tomorrow to help with the financing of a replacement nurse support vehicle.

Hope For Tomorrow is a cancer charity dedicated to bringing cancer treatment closer to patients’ homes.  Their mobile chemotherapy units (MCUs), which also visit Savernake Hospital, reduce the long distances of travel and waiting times for cancer treatment.

The nurse support vehicles are essential to the smooth operation of the MCUs, allowing nurses to travel independently of the units, bringing vital drugs with them and allowing them to maximise their shift time.

The Friends have also approved a grant of £10,000 to Julia’s House to assist with the financial costs of the construction of their new Devizes children’s hospice – the first for Wiltshire – supporting seriously ill children and their families.

Kennet Valley Driving Group

Kennet Valley Driving Group

A separate grant of £750 has been given by the Friends to the Kennet Valley Driving Group.  Kennet Valley Driving Group provides the opportunity for those with disabilities, including blindness, spinal injuries, Hodgkin disease and cerebral palsy to come carriage driving.  The Friends’ grant will assist with the costs involved in transporting disabled members and volunteers to the yards at Manton Estate.

Cotswold House, the specialist eating disorder unit at Savernake Hospital, have also benefitted from a grant allowing them to buy garden furniture so that the patients might enjoy their outdoor courtyard.  The Jubilee Centre, meanwhile, has received a grant to cover the cost of their oven repairs.  The Jubilee Centre in Marlborough is a day centre for the elderly providing activities, outings and a hearty nourishing meal for those who might otherwise be socially isolated.

Finally, the Friends supported the Queen’s Birthday celebrations on Ailesbury Ward on 11 June which had been arranged by the Ailesbury Ward nurses with assistance from the Savernake Hospital catering staff.  Patients enjoyed an afternoon tea fit for a queen, complete with Union Jack bunting and flags.  Friends’ Chairman, Janet Louth, who also attended the festivities with other Friends volunteers and trustees, was full of praise for the staff in having put together such a lovely, festive event which was clearly enjoyed by patients, families and staff alike.



Friends’ 2016 AGM

On 11 May, the Friends held their 59th AGM in the Marlborough Town Hall.

Chairman’s report

Chairman, Janet Louth, reported on the work of the Friends over the past year and detailed the grants given.  These included £3,500 to assist with refurbishment costs at the Jubilee Centre in Marlborough, £10,000 to Brighter Futures for their radiotherapy appeal and grants to Ailesbury Ward for dementia aids, a new television and DVD unit and wall and desk fans.

Janet also mentioned the financial support given to Great Bedwyn surgery for its trial of the pioneering Alere Afinion test system which can determine whether antibiotics will be effective in dealing with a patient’s symptoms, and therefore eliminate the overprescribing of antibiotics.  Early results have been very successful.

Janet thanked fellow trustees, including Keith Marshall who had resigned as Treasurer (replaced by Liz Wright) and Joan Davis who had re-joined the committee on a temporary basis when trustee numbers were low.   Janet encouraged other AGM attendees to consider joining the committee.

Arts Together – cheque presentation

At the end of Janet’s report, she presented a cheque for £5,500 to Julia McNeill from Arts Together to assist with running costs at their Pewsey and Marlborough art sessions.

Julia thanked the Friends for the cheque and explained how important the art groups were to elderly people, by providing social interaction and skills.  For some, this might be one of the few times they would get out of the home to meet with others.

Rebecca Kemp from Julia's House talking about progress on their children's hospice in Devizes

Rebecca Kemp from Julia’s House talking about progress on their children’s hospice in Devizes

Guest speakers

Attendees then had the opportunity to listen to two very interesting guest speakers.

Julia’s House

Rebecca Kemp, Fundraising Manager for Julia’s House, who had driven up from Poole, spoke about progress on their children’s hospice in Devizes.  Rebecca described the close contact that Julia’s House maintained not only with the patients but also with the parents and siblings of invalid and disabled children.

Cotswold House

The second speaker was Technical Instructor, Becky Deane, from Cotswold House, the specialist adult eating disorder unit at Savernake Hospital.  Becky explained how Cotswold House treated not only patients wanting to recover from their eating disorder unit but also those who simply wanted to be able to live with their condition. Click here to read the full article.




Friends of Savernake Hospital and the Community provide £5,500 grant to Arts Together           

Julia McNeill from Arts Together receiving a large cheque from the Friends' Chairman, Janet Louth

Julia McNeill from Arts Together receiving a large cheque from the Friends’ Chairman, Janet Louth

At the Friends’ AGM on 11 May, the Friends of Savernake Hospital and the Community (the Friends) presented a cheque for £5,500 to local charity, Arts Together.

Arts Together is a pioneering charity working to improve the health, well-being and quality of life of older people through the provision of a range of participatory arts projects in Marlborough, Pewsey and other Wiltshire locations.  This plays an important role in countering loneliness and isolation.

Friends’ Chairman, Janet Louth, visited an Arts Together session in Marlborough last month and was very impressed.

“Everyone was full of praise for the group and how beneficial it is to them,” said Janet.  “Attendees talked of how good it was to meet with others at the art sessions, and to be keeping their minds (and hands) active through the various art projects.”

Julia McNeill, an Arts Together volunteer in Marlborough, attended the Friends’ AGM in Marlborough to accept the cheque, and expressed her thanks to the attending Friends trustees and members.



£1,000 boost to the Bedwyns’ Link Scheme

The Friends have provided a £1,000 grant to the Bedwyns’ Link Scheme.  The Link scheme supports vulnerable people in the Bedwyns, Grafton, Wilton, St Katherine’s and Shalbourne by providing transport to NHS appointments, delivering prescriptions to housebound residents and a befriending service to people living alone.




Visit by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall: Friends’ Chair attends official opening of Prospect’s Outreach Centre at Savernake Hospital

On Tuesday 9th February the Chairman of the Friends of Savernake Hospital and the Community, Janet Louth, attended the official opening of Prospect’s new Outreach Centre at Savernake Hospital by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at the official opening of Prospect's outpatient centre at Savernake Hospital - 9 February 2016 - Photograph courtesy of The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at the official opening of Prospect’s outpatient centre at Savernake Hospital – 9 February 2016 – Photograph courtesy of The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald

The Outreach Centre opened last autumn, following many generous and enthusiastic fundraising efforts by the local community, including the Friends’ £20,000 matched funding pledge.

As previously reported by the Friends (, the Lavington Centre at Savernake Hospital has been converted and refurbished as an outreach centre with a variety of rooms for therapy, counselling and shared activities for patients and their families and carers.

The Duchess of Cornwall speaking with Janet Louth, Chairman of the Friends of Savernake Hospital and the Community

The Duchess of Cornwall speaking with Janet Louth, Chairman of the Friends of Savernake Hospital and the Community

During her tour, The Duchess of Cornwall, who is president of Prospect Hospice in Wroughton, met with staff, volunteers, patients and their families, as well as some of the donors who helped raise funds for the centre.

Commenting on The Duchess of Cornwall’s visit, Janet Louth said, ‘It has been an enjoyable day.  It was marvellous to have had such a high profile visitor – and one so supportive of health-related charitable causes – to officially open the centre.  This centre is such an asset to Marlborough and the surrounding areas.  The Friends are so pleased to have been able to support this cause along with so many individuals, businesses and schools in the local community.”




Friends approve £3,500 grant for the Jubilee Centre

The Jubilee Centre received an early Christmas delivery in the form of a cheque for £3,500 from the Friends to assist with refurbishment plans.

The Jubilee Centre in Marlborough High Street provides a drop in service and day service for over 60’s, providing social interaction and stimulation to its members.  Members enjoy a hearty midday meal, afternoon entertainment at the centre with guest speakers or music, and there are also excursions.

The grant money will be used to replace flooring in the entrance hall, for improved wheelchair storage, carpet cleaning, a new fridge freezer, a piano keyboard, stand and stool, additional crockery and new signage.




Community defibrillators – a reminder of how YOU could help save a life

Community Defibrillator

Community Defibrillator

In 2010 and 2011 the Friends of Savernake Hospital and the Community (the Friends) funded the purchase and installation of 10 community defibrillators in Marlborough and two neighbouring parishes.  They are also committed to their ongoing maintenance.

The community defibrillators are very evident around the Marlborough area with their bright, vandal-resistant yellow boxes.

Community defibrillators can be accessed in an emergency by any member of the public by dialling 999.  The code to release the defibrillator will be given by the ambulance service.  In fact only last week, Friends’ volunteers, helping at the Pop Up Cafe held on 20 November at the Marlborough Christmas Lights Switch On, were asked by an ambulance services call handler to release the Marlborough Library defibrillator (“just in case”) when they came to the assistance of an elderly member of the public who had fallen and hurt his head.  Fortunately the defibrillator was not required, and another Friends volunteer kept the gentleman safe and warm until the ambulance service arrived.

When used within the first 3-5 minutes of a person suffering a sudden cardiac arrest, a defibrillator can dramatically increase the victim’s chance of survival.

What many people may not know is that the machine gives clear spoken instructions – you do not need training to use one.  Because time is of the essence when someone suffers a cardiac arrest, we have, with the assistance of The Community HeartBeat Trust set out a few guidelines on using a defibrillator so that you have the confidence to use one if an emergency arises.  Click here to read more.



baublesFriends volunteers keeping busy in the run up to Christmas

Many thanks to the Friends’ volunteers and to our Shop Coordinator who, together with the Jubilee Centre, ran a Pop Up Cafe to coincide with the switching on of the Marlborough Christmas lights on Friday 20 November.  Mulled wine, a variety of snacks, hot drinks and soup were all available.

The volunteers were fortunate with the weather; the wind and rain had already blown through, although it was still cold.  Thanks go to the bakers extraordinaire who donated cakes and savouries, and to all the volunteers who braved the cold to drape lights over windows and push a tea trolley along the High Street to drum up business – as well as coming to the assistance of an elderly member of the public who fell outside the Jubilee Centre, keeping him safe and warm until the ambulance service arrived.

The Pop Up Cafe raised in the region of £100, to be shared equally with the Jubilee Centre.

Coming up on the Volunteers’ Christmas calendar is the Shop Christmas raffle.  This will be drawn on 11 December with raffle tickets a bargain at 50p each, and the chance to win a super hand-knitted Nativity Scene and a delicious home made Christmas cake, among other goodies.  Volunteers will also be busy carol singing at 3pm that day to patients on Ailesbury Ward.



Friends support Great Bedwyn GPs’ innovative blood testing system which could revolutionise the prescribing of antibiotics

Alere Afinion Test System - will add certainty to the prescribing of antibiotics

Alere Afinion Test System – will add certainty to the prescribing of antibiotics

In October the Friends provided a grant to Great Bedwyn Surgery to assist with the operational costs of a trial by the GPs of a new piece of blood testing equipment.

The Alere Afinion Test System allows GPs to determine in minutes, by way of a simple skin prick test, whether a patient requires antibiotics.

As Great Bedwyn Surgery’s Practice Manager, Keith Marshall, explained, “It is estimated that the prescribing of antibiotics costs the NHS last year around £192 million, although around 1 in 4 prescriptions is likely to have been ineffective.  This machine will allow GPs to correctly ascertain whether they will be effective, and in the longer term reduce prescribing costs.”  Click here to read more.



Friends of Savernake Hospital get a “sneak peek” of the nearly completed Prospect Hospice outpatient centre

Last week, on 7 October 2015, the Friends were delighted to be given a tour by Prospect Hospice of the new Prospect Hospice outpatient unit at Savernake Hospital, which is due to open in a matter of days.

Day Hospice Room in the new Prospect Hospice outpatient unit at Savernake Hospital. This will hold group sessions for up to 16 people.

Day Hospice Room in the new Prospect Hospice outpatient unit at Savernake Hospital. This will hold group sessions for up to 16 people.

The outpatient unit comprises various consultation, examination and complementary therapy rooms, all tastefully decorated.  The entire unit is bright and cheerful as there is a lot of natural light.

Tricia Davies, Head of Patient Services at Prospect Hospice in the complementary therapy room

Tricia Davies, Head of Patient Services at Prospect Hospice in the complementary therapy room

This time last year the Friends had just given their support for the newly announced “Prospect at Savernake” appeal, with its matched funding pledge of £20,000.   The Friends’ endorsement of this appeal, with the backing of local individuals, businesses and schools, was instrumental in enabling Prospect Hospice to well exceed its appeal target of £75,000 – as stated by their Director of Income Generation, Richard Hammond, at the Friends’ 2015 AGM.

On entering the new outpatient centre, which is located within the Lavington Centre at Savernake Hospital, visitors to the centre will be greeted by reception staff and volunteers.  Nearby there is an open plan kitchen area (the “Welcome Room”) for making coffee and tea.  There patients and carers will be hosted by volunteers.  Beyond that is a day hospice room where group sessions for up to 16 attendees will be held, addressing such matters as managing breathlessness. Click here to read more.




Fundraising by the Volunteers

On Saturday 5th September the Friends’ volunteers held a very successful cake sale outside the Jubilee Centre on Marlborough High Street.

Friends of Savernake Hospital and the community Cake Stall Sept 2015

Tempting cakes for sale – and recipe books too! Who could resist?!

The table was adorned with a marvellous array of delicious cakes – some of which were sold before the volunteers had even managed to put the finishing touches to the display!

Friends of Savernake Hospital and the community; Just some of the delicious cakes

Just some of the delicious cakes

Not only was this a very successful fundraising event, raising over £85, but it also provided a wonderful opportunity to chat to the public about the work of the Friends and about becoming a Friends volunteer.

A variety of leaflets, photos and news reports about volunteering with the Friends and the healthcare-related grants given by the Friends to the local community were available for the public to read as they stopped by to purchase their cakes.  The volunteers were also selling tickets for a “Guess the Date of the Job Advert” competition (results to be announced on 11 September) relating to a copy of an old advertisement for a job at Savernake Hospital.

Click here to read more.



Make your views known on the hospital community services provided by Great Western Hospital

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) in conjunction with Healthwatch Wiltshire is holding a “listening event’ at Marlborough Town Hall on 24 September 6-7.30pm to hear the public’s views on hospital community services provided by Great Western Hospital.
Healthwatch Wiltshire will also have a stand at Savernake Hospital on Friday 11 September in the morning, again where people can share their views.
Click here for a copy of the full press release from Healthwatch Wiltshire detailing the events.


Things are blooming at Cotswold House

The patient group at Savernake Hospital’s Cotswold House has been working hard over the past few months to develop an enterprise business, thanks in part to a grant from the Friends of Savernake Hospital and the Community.

Cotswold House plant trolley outside the Friends of Savernake Hospital Shop

Cotswold House plant trolley outside the Friends’ Shop

Cotswold House is the specialist eating disorder unit at Savernake Hospital, supporting adults (over 18) and young people who are approaching their 18th birthday.

“Blooming, planting foundations and growing for life” is the brand developed wholly by the Cotswold House patients within their Enterprise and Gardening and Craft Group.

Cotswold House supported by Friends of Savernake Hospital and the community

Cotswold House enterprise logo

As Becky Deane, Technical Instructor at Cotswold House explained, “This is a group which strives to promote self-belief and self-worth through empowering individuals to drive the project forward”.

With a generous donation from the Friends to buy, among other things, seeds and gardening utensils, together with donations of equipment from staff and members of the public and a gift voucher from “Community at Tesco” the patients have grown and marketed for sale an array of plants, complete with carefully decorated labels and pots.  As well as production and creativity, the patients also take responsibility for the project’s accounting, product sourcing and stock taking.

Click here to read more.



The Friends of Savernake Hospital and the Community pledges its financial support for the Brighter Futures’ Radiotherapy Appeal

On Friday 24 July, the Friends presented a cheque to Jennifer Green of Brighter Futures £10,000 towards its £2.9 million Radiotherapy Appeal.

Friends of Savernake Hospital present cheque to Brighter Futures

Left to right: Pat Harper, Friends Committee Member, Jennifer Green, Head of Fundraising at Brighter Futures, Friends Chairman Janet Louth and Joan Davies, Friends Committee Member

Brighter Futures is the charity of the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Speaking at the Friends’ AGM in May 2015, Jennifer Green, Head of Fundraising for Brighter Futures explained that while radiotherapy had been proven to be a successful cancer treatment, it was not yet available at Great Western Hospital in Swindon.  Instead, cancer patients had to make the lengthy journey to Oxford for treatment (a 92 mile round trip from Marlborough) which, she explained, could impact a patient’s health and well-being in the short term.  Indeed, some patients decided not to follow up with the treatment because of the arduous journey.

Brighter Futures cheque from Friends of Savernake Hospital and the communityThe money raised by the Brighter Futures Radiotherapy appeal would allow for the purchase of Linear accelerators for the new Swindon-based radiotherapy centre, which Brighter Futures would hope to have up and running by April 2017.

Speaking of the £10,000 given to Brighter Futures, Janet Louth, Chairman of the Friends said:

“The aim of the Friends is to work to enhance the quality of life for people in the local community affected by ill health or disability.  We recognise that a new radiotherapy unit based at Great Western Hospital in Swindon will benefit, among others, those in the Friends’ catchment area, and reduce the travelling times currently endured by cancer patients.” Click here to read more.



Grants Galore for Ailesbury Ward!

Patients and staff on Ailesbury Ward at Savernake Hospital have recently benefitted from three separate grants totalling more than £1,150 from the Friends of Savernake Hospital and the Community, covering dementia aids, a communal television and DVD player and electric fans.

white board funded by Friends of Savernake Hospital

Staff Nurse, Liz Barker with a white board – anyone for noughts and crosses?

The Friends have provided a grant of £380 allowing for the purchase of a variety of items to assist and stimulate patients with dementia.

“At any one time, up to a quarter or even a third of the patients on Ailesbury Ward – which currently has 26 beds open – may exhibit some degree of dementia,” explained Staff Nurse, Liz Barker, “and dementia is sometimes exacerbated by an underlying illness or infection”.

Liz, who recently attended the first of three dementia master class courses, was given the responsibility of carefully selecting the most suitable dementia aids for the purposes of the grant application to the Friends.

As well as basing her selection on her training, Liz has also used Jupiter Ward at Great Western Hospital, Swindon (which specialises in treating elderly patients with a variety of conditions, including dementia) as her benchmark.  Items purchased include two “dementia-friendly” date and time clocks.

Dementia-friendly date and time clock funded by Friends of Savernake Hospital

Dementia-friendly date and time clock

As Liz explained, many patients suffering dementia require reassurance as to the date and time me.  Such clocks can allay the anxiety of losing track of the days and time. Click here to read more.



New portable ECG machine for the Savernake Hospital Community Nurse Team

The Community Nurse Team at Savernake Hospital are delighted to now have their own portable ECG machine worth over £2,000, thanks to a generous grant from the Friends of Savernake Hospital and the Community.

Portable ECG equipment funded by Friends of Savernake Hospital

The new portable ECG equipment

The Community Nurse Team care for patients in their own homes, and, prior to receiving the Friends’ grant had been trialling portable ECG equipment on loan.

The portable ECG machine enables the Community Nurses to further expand the services they provide to house-bound patients, and has been welcomed by local GPs.

“The equipment is now an integral part of the services we can offer the people in our locality”, explains Team Leader, Cate Judd.

“With an ever ageing population, and with the move to more complex conditions being cared for in the home, this portable ECG machine gives us the diagnostic tools we need to manage this cohort of patients.”  Click here to read more.



The Friends 58th AGM – 13 May 2015

A sample of one of the AGM storyboards

Another of the AGM storyboards detailing the work of the Friends’ volunteers

The Friends held a well-attended 58th AGM on 13 May 2015 in the Court Room of the Marlborough Town Hall.  Those who arrived early for refreshments also had the opportunity to catch up with old acquaintances, read the storyboards detailing some of the grants given in the past year and the feedback the Friends had received from grateful recipients, as well as perusing the many Savernake Hospital history files which had been painstakingly collated by Val Compton.  Click here to read more.

Storyboard detailing the grants to the Neighbourhood Team in 2014 and early 2015

Storyboard detailing the grants to the Neighbourhood Team in 2014 and early 2015





Friends of Savernake Hospital provide another £10,000 for the Prospect at Savernake appeal

On 27 March in the sunny courtyard at Savernake Hospital, the Friends of Savernake Hospital and the Community handed over a second cheque for £10,000 to Prospect Hospice for its Prospect at Savernake appeal.

Prospect at Savernake March 2015 cheque handover

Prospect at Savernake March 2015 cheque handover

As already widely reported, the Friends pledged in October 2014 to match funds raised for the appeal up to a maximum of £20,000.

The first of the £10,000 “matched funds” cheques was handed over before Christmas.  However, because of the continuing donations and fundraising efforts by individuals, business and schools, the Friends were soon ready to hand over the second £10,000 cheque.

It was only fitting that members of the local community – representing all those who have made donations and have been involved in fundraising initiatives –attended the handing over of the cheque by the Friends’ Chairman, Janet Louth, to Richard Hammond, Director of Income Generation at Prospect Hospice.  Those attending included John and Mary Powell, as well as students from St John’s and Preshute schools and representatives of the Friends.

The Prospect at Savernake Outpatient Centre is due to open later in the year.

In the meantime, anyone wishing to learn more about the work of the Friends, healthcare-related grants they have made during the past year, and how you can support them is invited to attend their AGM on 13 May 2015 in the Marlborough Town Hall starting at 7.30pm, with refreshments available from 7.00pm.  There will also be guest speakers from Prospect Hospice and from Brighter Futures (GWH).




New wheelchairs for Savernake Hospital’s Ailesbury Ward                  

Patients on Ailesbury Ward at Savernake Hospital are now able to enjoy the benefits of a fleet of six new wheelchairs thanks to a generous grant from the Friends of Savernake Hospital and the

Occupational Therapist, Brett Cashmore-Brown with one of the new wheelchairs

Occupational Therapist, Brett Cashmore-Brown with one of the new wheelchairs


The very welcome grant of £972 from the Friends allowed for the purchase of two standard attendant wheelchairs, one bariatric attendant wheelchair and three self-propelling wheelchairs, meaning the existing supply of wheelchairs on Ailesbury Ward could be upgraded and updated.

Staff and patients alike are delighted with the comfortable and lightweight new wheelchairs.

These new wheelchairs allow the patients to be manoeuvred easily on Ailesbury Ward and within Savernake Hospital generally.  The self-propelled wheelchairs in particular allow patients to build up their stamina with confidence as they wheel themselves around.  Click here to read the full article.



Falls Clinic benefits from grant from the Friends                

The Falls Clinic Team - left to right - Pete Sears Occupational Therapist, Karen Roberts Physiotherapist, Hayley Wylie Health Care Support Worker

The Falls Clinic Team – left to right – Pete Sears Occupational Therapist, Karen Roberts Physiotherapist, Hayley Wylie Health Care Support Worker

Patients at the Integrated Team Falls Clinic at Savernake Hospital will now benefit from a vast array of new equipment, thanks to a generous grant of £1,211 from the Friends of Savernake Hospital and the Community.

The Integrated Team Falls Clinic assists patients who have had a fall and balance-impaired patients at risk of falling.

“After a fall, patients will often feel less confident about walking.  This leads to reduced mobility and activity and, in turn, to reduced muscle strength, reduced stamina, reduced flexibility and poor balance, which can lead to another fall,” explains physiotherapist, Karen Roberts.

A sample of the equipment provided by the Friends to the Falls Clinic

A sample of the equipment provided by the Friends to the Falls Clinic

“One of our roles at the Falls Clinic is to reverse that cycle by increasing muscle strength, stamina and flexibility through a series of short term goals so as to increase the patient’s mobility and ensure that the patient reaches that long term goal of walking again safely and confidently, and therefore be able to return to a more independent life.”

Through an 8 week program, patients meet as a group led by Karen, Pete Sears (Occupational Therapist) & Hayley Wylie (Health Care Support Worker) and will use the new equipment to steadily improve their mobility and balance.

“It is lovely seeing the patients, many of whom are anxious about walking, develop friendships and grow in confidence with peer support,” says Karen.

Whilst meeting as a group, each patient has an individually tailored physiotherapy circuit for each session and is assessed both at the beginning and at the end of the 8 week program.

“Variety is so important when doing these exercises,” explains Hayley, “which is why the new equipment is so welcome.”  Click here to read the full article.




The Friends present their first cheque for £10,000 to Prospect Hospice for the Prospect at Savernake Appeal

Presentation of cheque by Janet Louth, Friends Chairman, to Warren Finney, Head of Community Engagement, Prospect Hospice 19 December 2014 Presentation of cheque by Janet Louth, Friends Chairman, to Warren Finney, Head

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