The League of Friends of St Peter's Hospital was established in 1952. The first AGM was held on 11th May 1953, chaired by Lady Brabazon.
Among items first purchased by the Firends were a library book trolley, a picture for the nurses' quarters and hymn books.
Membership subscriptions, Whist evenings, a summer fete and collecting boxes provided cash for "comforts" for patients and staff. The reputation of the Friends grew leading to bigger donations and bequests. The first Friends' Shop opened. Profits enabled the creation of a Chapel and Chaplain's office.
Every ward and the Nurses' Home had a piano tuned and installed for Christmas 1955. Funding for equipment, partitioning of wards and installation of ward curtains continued. £484 was spent building an ambulance unloading bay.
Weekly winter film shows for patients were replaced by "silent" ward televsions with headphones. Funding was provided for spin driers and hair driers for the Nurses's Home, along with bigger projects such as the provision of a Paediatric Day Room.
By the Friends' 25th anniversary, their contribution to the life of the hospital was enormous, including funding an ultrasound scanner for Maternity and closed circuit TV for the Special Care Baby Unit. The Friends' Shop moved to the top of the Ramp, expanding to provide a cafe, success leading to a move to the main entrance in 1989.
On 11th October 1996, the Trust launched the Critical Care Challenge - a £500,000 appeal to provide additional hi-tech equipment for the £8 million Prince Edward Accident and Emergency Centre. BBC news man Michael Buerk received the first donation on behalf of the Trust - a cheque for £10000 from the Friends, presented by Chairman Mrs Diana Amberton. Two years later they donated £20000 to the new hospital Chapel. The Friends were among the first to welcome our nursing colleagues from the Philippines.
Early in the Millenium, the Friends spent around £500000. Two generous benefactors enabled; £52000 to be spent on cubicle curtains and chairs in six wards in the Duchess of Kent Wing; £45000 on five hi-tech pieces of medical equipment; and £55000 on a Chapel garden.
50 years of support was celebrated in 2002 with Golden Jubilee donations. The Friends donated to a Lung Function Laboratory and provided digital photography equipment for an overhaul of Medical Photography.
2005 saw £210000 invested in rebuilding the shop and cafeteria. The turnover of the shop and cafeteria rose to about £900000 per annum.
The remainder of the decade saw large donations for the installation of patient monitors in the Neonatal ICU and £25000 to Stephanie Marks Appeal. The Friends supported the transformation of the Chapel into a fit-for-purpose Multi-Faith Centre. The Maternity department gained 50 new baby cots. Many staff rest rooms were refurbished. The 500th committee meeting in March 2009 saw the Friends donate £200000 worth of equipment. The total donated to St Peter's since 1st January 2000 reached £1.5 million by July 2011.
The Friends continued to operate a Ward Trolley service and a "tea and biscuits" service in the Outpatients waiting areas. On Christmas Day, Friends visit wards with presents for patients. Christmas food hampers are prepared and distributed to staff. The Friends have supported many vital areas of care, including the care of our bereaved families.
Every area of Hospital life and care has been enriched by their support. Their physical presence in the Hospital is greatly missed bu the tradition of donations, financial and practical, remains of immeasurable benefit to use all. Congratulations and great gratitude on 60 wonderful years!
With grateful thanks to Jane O'Kill, Jim McCall and Alan Gibbs for this brief history