Wellington Community Hospital’s League of Friends is to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a special fête in the grounds of Wellesley Park Primary School on Saturday 23rd June from 2pm to 6pm.
The League of Friends’ Press Secretary, Diane Grabham, explained: “We see this as a celebration of 50 years of support for the hospital, a way of thanking those people who have provided legacies and donations and an opportunity to provide our supporters with a platform to promote themselves.” Amongst other community groups, Wellington Townswomen’s Guild, West Buckland WI and Wellington Inner Wheel regularly run stalls at the LoF annual fête.at LoF Christmas Coffee Morning
The anniversary fête will replace the annual event which normally takes place in Wellington Junior School and plans for this special celebration are already taking shape. “We’re approaching lots of people in the town,” Diane explained, “and already have entertainment from Wellesley Park choir, Wellington Operatic Society, John Walker, Wellington Majorettes and Avtar – the Bollywood and Bhangra Indian Dance group who will run a workshop. For children there’ll be a bouncy castle, an inflatable obstacle course, face painting, and Bodley Craft who run children’s parties and holiday courses will be there. We hope to have alpacas and a portable bowling alley from Wellington Bowling Club, Braziers’ coffee, a bar, barbecue, ice cream and pizzas.
“There’ll also be stalls selling plants and flowers donated by local garden centres and nurseries as well as a raffle and tombola organised by the hospital. We’re not charging for the stalls but asking for 10% of the profits made.” She added, “This is not a fund-raiser but we need to cover our expenses – for the marquee and portable toilets for example.”
Founded in 1968 the purpose of the League of Friends is to raise funds to buy extra equipment and services for the benefit of patients at the hospital and, until it closed, Wellington Maternity Home. Diane said, “One member once described this as ‘the LoF putting the jam on the bread and butter provided by the NHS’”. Today the league also provides help for Stratfield House, the on-site day centre for people suffering from dementia.
“The hospital is held in high esteem by the local community and this is reflected in the generous donations and bequests the LoF has been privileged to receive from individuals and organisations,” Diane said.
Outlining the contribution of the LoF, she explained: “Over the last 50 years the league has helped provide a wide range of equipment and facilities, including pressure-relieving mattresses, blood pressure machine, radios, televisions, bladder scanner, funded the painting and furnishing of a quiet room for relatives, adjustable chairs, hoist, ECG machine, garden seat and plants, treadmill and fit cycle for physiotherapy – just a few examples. As well as meeting specific requests the league funds ongoing aromatherapy and podiatry service for inpatients and fresh flower displays in the Day Room and Waiting Room.
“The use of the hospital continues to change. Patients are no longer just from the local area but from further afield too. They are being returned to their homes earlier to be nursed in the community. The LoF has had to consider this and, whilst still responding to the needs of Wellington Community Hospital, has also recently made a generous donation to The League of Friends of Musgrove Hospital’s bed appeal as well as supporting the work of The Archie Project in local schools. We are also trying to link up with the community nursing service to see if we can support them.”
Wellington Hospital opened in 1892 the gift to the town from local businessman Mr Eggerton Burnett. And additional wing was built in 1931 on land given by Mr Hugh Fox, then president of the hospital who in 1935 also presented the outpatients’ department in memory of his wife.
The hospital has seen many changes since it first opened, including the change of status from a cottage hospital to a community hospital. The open wards have given way to single and double rooms, a 24 hour minor injuries’ unit has closed, replaced by a wide range of outpatient clinics.
In the early 90’s the hospital was threatened with closure but saved after much lobbying by the people of Wellington, including the LoF. Not long afterwards work began on a new extension.
The anniversary fête promises to bring together all those who have supported the LoF and the whole community, many of whom have personal experience of the value and importance of the hospital in the town. As Diane said, “Many things may have changed but the hospital still has a reputation for its homely, friendly and caring atmosphere.”