Anniversary Appeal Charity
I’m writing to you in your capacity as Vice President of our Charity, to thank you for the wonderful support you have given us over the past 10 years.
It is a long time since we established our 150th Anniversary Appeal Charity in 1986 and set out to raise the £1.5million we needed to completely redevelop the Radiotherapy Department making it today’s Berkshire Cancer Centre. It was a great honour for those of us who were deeply involved in the fundraising efforts, to be presented to Her Majesty the Queen, when she opened the new Centre on 4th April 1989. It was characteristic of our Charity to try to ensure that as many fundraising helpers had the opportunity to have a royal thankyou for their efforts. In many respects this is reflected in the quiet and unassuming way you continue to actively support our various causes. In inviting well known people to become Vice Presidents of our Charity we leave it very much to the individual whether he or she will be active in supporting our Appeals. You are certainly our most active practical Vice President.
In 1992 when our Berkshire Cancer Centre Appeal was wound up, it was evident from the difference in patient facilities in the new Centre, that there was an enormous amount of work which needed to be done elsewhere in the Hospital to provide similar surroundings for patients of other departments. So the West Berkshire Hospitals Charity was created to provide the fundraising framework to allow this to happen.
To our delight you kindly accepted our invitation to continue as a Vice President of the new Charity and have supported our Appeals since then. We now run some 20 concurrent Appeals helping patients whose particular needs have, to date, been overlooked by the multitudinous demands on NHS resources. A £200,000 Isolation Unit for patients with rare blood diseases was opened by the Princess Royal in April 1984 as a result of very active fundraising by the StarmerSmith family and great support from the Rugby community and local Schools. Charlotte StarmerSmith died at 16, from a rare blood condition which required Isolation facilities not available at the Royal Berkshire Hospital. Charlotte had wanted to be a Doctor so her parents set up a fund under our Charity which would raise money to provide facilities that would help various medical disciplines in which she may have chosen to be involved. Having provided an Isolation Unit the Fund is now providing for the construction of a specialist Leukaemia Treatment Unit within the RBH, which should be opened in the spring of 1997.
In November 1994 Willie Rushton agreed to become the patron of our Diabetes Centre Appeal for £500,000, to purchase and convert a house to be a Diabetes Centre and to provide a mobile screening service for the 8000 known diabetics in the area.
Diabetes is perceived by most people to be not worth worrying about. Sadly it is the fourth largest killer disease in developed countries worldwide and affects some 2 million people over 16 in the UK. Its incidence in young children is increasing and as yet there is no identifiable reason for this. Over 80% of Diabetes is noninsulin dependent which means it is vital for these patients to have access to regular screening in order to prevent potential diabetic complications (eye damage leading to blindness, kidney damage leading to kidney failure, dialysis and transplantation, and circulatory problems leading to amputation of limbs, strokes or heart attacks). With proper screening all these problems can be controlled or averted altogether, and the Appeal is anxious to continue and to expand the mobile screening service which over the past 4 years has averted blindness or sight deterioration in over 70 patients in our area. In May 1996 the Diabetes Centre was completed and Patient Clinics commenced on October 7th. The Appeal has raised some £300,000 and still has a long way to go to achieve the objectives of completing payment for the Centre Building, and more importantly the continued availability of a regular screening service. This Appeal needs all the help it can get, particularly to alter the public perception that Diabetes is a trivial complaint.
1996 will be regarded by the Charity as a famous year. In January the Fundraising total for the West Berkshire Hospitals Charity overall, passed the magic figure of £1million. Following closely behind we managed to reach the £1 million spent on new facilities by September. The Charity’s aim is to get the money raised, used for its specific purpose as quickly as possible. By this means new “high tech” monitors for children critically ill with, say, meningitis, are being used now to save lives very much earlier than had the hospital to wait for NHS funding. Equipment for the care of children at home who are suffering from asthma or cystic fibrosis is a key part of our Fund to help the Home Care Sisters from the Hospital’s paediatric team. This Fund benefited greatly from your help at the “Evening with Uri Geller” in Bracknell’s Southill Park last month.
With your continued help, directly and indirectly, we will continue to raise money for the provision of better facilities in our local hospitals. We are frequently told there should be no need for our work as the NHS should provide everything. In reality they have their work cut out to continue to provide the finest medical services available in the world today. There is little point in spending our efforts in protests demanding more of this and more of that It is much more beneficial to use this effort in helping the NHS achieve its objectives.
Our thanks for your continued support.
David A. Wright
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