Hospital friends group ends

Members of the Friends of Ashfield Community Hospital charity.
Members of the Friends of Ashfield Community Hospital charity.

A charity which has worked hard to support the former Ashfield Health Village and its community hospital in Kirkby has closed after raising hundreds of thousands of pounds over 30 years.

The Friends of Ashfield Community Hospital has raised more than £300,000 for various equipment and facilities for the health village since starting out in 1995.

The site is now known as the Ashfield Health & Wellbeing Centre.

Suzanne Franks, honorary secretary for the charity, said: “Since the charity was set up our small committee and band of volunteers raised in the region of £300,000 for many and varied items to support patients and staff, with huge support from the local public.

“Before we ceased in March we gave away around £10,000 of leftover funds to other charities such as the hospice, British Legion, Stroke Group, and Breathe Easy, with the understanding that our donations be earmarked for use in this local area.”

The charity supported the health village with requests put forward to it from staff and patients.

It held fundraisers throughout the year to help raise the money.

Around 25 of the last volunteers from the site were given a farewell lunch in the hospital dining room.

This was as a small thank you for their hard work in fundraising, as well as other areas like the extremely popular teabar.

At its most busy there were more than 70 volunteers covering the five wards which the former hospital was well known for, but which have been closed down and moved to other sites over recent years.

Ron Chamberlain, OLM (Order of the League of Merit), who founded the charity and was also instrumental in choosing the original site for the hospital, is now almost 93 and only quite recently stepped down due to ill health.

The former Ashfield District Council chairman set the charity up in 1995 not long after the hospital was opened.

Suzanne said: “The Friends of Ashfield has in a sense been his baby from the start, he was key in choosing the actual site of the former community hospital and then the health village before it was even built.”

“It was Ashfield Community Hospital and the public took it to its heart.

“We raised a lot of money for a small charity and all the volunteers can be very proud of what we achieved.

“All during that time we held fairs and applied for grants from a lot of organisations.

“The charity raised more than £30,000 alone to pay for a sun lounge in the main reception.

She added: “Every ward had a garden and we refurbished every one.

“We bought TVs, special beds and chairs and physio’ equipment.

“It got to the stage where wards started moving off one at a time, and we stopped getting requests for help.

“Last year we had over £30,000 in the bank and it felt like we hadn’t got a role any more really.”