Wiltshire Publications

Hospital League of Friends say goodbye after 64 years and £1.6million fundraising

The remaining committee members of the League of Friends, with chair Erica Watson (front right).

THE community paid tribute to the League of Friends as it closed last week, after 64 years of campaigning for better health provision, and raising over £1.6million to help fund Westbury Hospital until its closure, as well as further health services for Westbury.

The overall objective of the League of Friends has always been to provide funds to supplement the resources of other health service providers within the community.

From their first meeting on 18th October 1954  at the hospital, to their final farewell on Friday 15th June 2018, they have raised and donated £1,636,912 to Westbury Hospital to help improve health provision across all departments and, since the hospital closed in 2012, the group continued to fund health services in Westbury and surrounding areas.

At the closure of the League of Friends, £98,000 was donated to local groups and charities, including money which was left as a legacy in people’s wills and recent fundraising. Representatives from the groups came together for a celebratory lunch and to hear of the great work each recipient carried out.

Donations during the event were made to the following: Dorothy House £10,000; Hope for Tomorrow £5,000; Alzheimer’s Support £2,000; Crosspoint £12,000; Wessex MS Therapy Centre £5,000; Julia’s House £5,000; Larkrise £5,000; Stepping Stone £5,000; Wiltshire Air Ambulance £10,000; MRI Star Appeal £10,000; Forever Friends RUH £10,000; Harry’s Hydro £3,000; Hearing Aid Repair Room Rental £1,000; Forget Me Not £2,000; Westbury Shed £3,000; White Horse Children’s Centre £3,000; Grassacres Hall £3,000; Warminster & District Stroke Club £1,000; Riding for the Disabled £3,000.

Erica Watson, chair of the League of Friends told White Horse News, “It is amazing because you know that the money donated here today will go towards helping all age groups and conditions. Just today, we have given money to help premature babies all the way to end of life care. It is a very humbling experience, even after 20 years of being a part of the League of Friends.

“I am now the longest-serving member of the group and I will continue to be a health campaigner and we have had several invitations to visit places such as the RUH and Salisbury Hospital, so we will try to attend as a committee.

“There are only eight members of the committee left and we will have our final AGM in September. It has been a whirlwind of emotions and I am sad to see it come to and end.”

The recipient of the largest sum of money from the League of Friends for  £12,000 was Crosspoint, a charity in Westbury.

On behalf of the charity, chairman Len Clift said, “We are very thankful to receive this money and it will go towards services that we facilitate here at Crosspoint. We hold a Westbury counselling service where retired and trainee councillors seek to give out free advice to the people of Westbury and also young people’s counselling, both who need help towards funding, so the donation will go towards those services.

“The League of Friends fought a long, hard fight and it’s a shame to see the disappointment, but sometimes the government has a path and things do follow unless you have some seriously big guns to steer it off the path.”