[T]ributes have been paid to The League of Friends of Westmorland General Hospital (WGH), which in its 25 year history has raised a mammoth £1.5m for the hospital and its patients.
The League, which can trace its roots back to 1948 when as a result of the National Health Service Act it was founded to support the old Westmorland County Hospital, held its final AGM earlier this year. With the founding of the new Westmorland General Hospital in 1992 the League was joined by the League of Friends of Kendal Green Hospital and relaunched. In its early days the charity provided items such as blankets and bed socks for patients and later helped to fund a bungalow on the Burton Road site for families of patients.
Over recent years the League has helped purchase items such as:
- Infusion pumps for the pain clinic
- Sleep apnoea monitors for the sleep clinic
- A tattoo machine for the breast care unit to enable surgeons to create tattoo nipples during breast reconstructions
- A final pay-out of £6,230 for new kit for the volunteer Bay Trust hospital radio team earlier this year.
Jackie Daniel, Chief Executive UHMBT, said: “Members of The League of Friends have been a tremendous help to the hospital and we cannot thank them enough for their commitment over the years.
“I hope the League can feel proud of the difference their commitment and efforts have made. We intend to commemorate their wonderful efforts by putting up a plaque, at WGH, in tribute to them as a permanent reminder of all they’ve done.
“We fully understand their reasons for having to disband. Competition in the charity sector has never been greater and there are a lot of big charities out there competing for donations. But Bay Hospitals Charity will continue to work tirelessly to raise money to support all three of our hospitals across Morecambe Bay, including WGH.”
Audrey Stainton, who worked as a nurse for 42 years, joined the League of Friends when she retired six years ago. She said: “In the past we used to benefit from legacies left by grateful former patients. But with people living longer these days, and the associated costs of care in later life, people no longer have quite so much money to make such bequests. As a result our financial reserves have dwindled and with the competition there is now in the charity sector it’s become more difficult for us to raise money for our charity, hence our decision to disband.”
Although Committee Members of the League made the decision to disband the charity on 27 April it will continue to fund hydrotherapy sessions at Sandgate School over the next 12 months. Remaining funds have been distributed equally between Bay Hospitals Charity and Cumbria Partnership Charitable Fund for the designated use of patients of Westmorland General and the South Lakeland Community.