The Hospital League of Friends was started in the 1920s, and then lapsed in the forties before being revived in the fifties, when it was renamed as the Malmesbury Hospital League of Friends. This comprised a group of local supporters who identified the need for medical equipment, which was not supplied by the NHS, to provide the best support for patients. It also purchased items of medical equipment for the local medical practices in both Malmesbury and Sherston and for local care homes for the elderly.
The decision to demolish the hospital in 2006 was led by the change in the way care was being provided in the home. It prompted the trustees to refocus and rename the charity as the Malmesbury League of Friends(MLOF) and to revise the constitution, which gave the trustees the opportunity to broaden their objectives.
By 2006, when the necessary funding was in place, work began on demolishing the old hospital building and to construct a Primary Care Centre, comprising the doctors’ practice and the remaining hospital services (eg outpatients, maternity, physiotherapy), a residential and nursing home, Athelstan House, and a development of 28 Extra Care apartments for private purchase, all on the land formerly occupied by the old hospital.
The new Malmesbury Primary Care Centre (MPCC) was formally opened by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2008, alongside Athelstan House Care Home, which is run by The Order of St John, a non-profit charity.
The MLOF, which meets every two months, is run by an elected committee of trustees to discuss and agree requests for assistance. The current chairman is David Hide, a long-time Malmesbury resident, former RAF officer and businessman.
Paul Hewson, a former regional director of the RAF Benevolent Fund, Hayley Webb, a former Malmesbury Town Councillor, and Jane Jones, a teacher and long-time Malmesbury resident, joined the League in 2018 and are already making a positive contribution to its work.
The MLOF Trustees pictured at Malmesbury Primary Care Centre
The key objectives of the League are to provide medical equipment and assistance for the Malmesbury Primary Care Centre, the Tolsey surgery in Sherston, welfare equipment for Athelstan House and medical and other associated items for needy members in the community of Malmesbury and surrounding villages who are sick, convalescent, disabled, handicapped, infirm or in need of financial assistance. MLOF also works closely with Social Services.
These items of equipment vary widely in both cost and scope. On a small scale, the League funded new central heating systems for two elderly Malmesbury residents, and recently made a second donation of £2,000 to the Malmesbury Foodbank, to enable it to provide fresh food vouchers for those in need.
Trustee Jane Jones presenting a cheque to Malmesbury Foodbank
On a much larger scale, the League has donated three separate sums of £25,000 towards the cost of a new radiotherapy unit, based in the GWH, Swindon. At present, Malmesbury residents needing this treatment have to travel to Oxford or Bath, a stressful and time-consuming activity. As a result of our efforts, the £2.9 million target has been reached.
More recently, it has helped GWH, Swindon, again, with a single donation of £35,000 to raise £175,000 to purchase five new incubators for their special care baby unit. These will be available to help those living in or near Malmesbury, for whom the GWH is their main hospital.
Chairman David Hide and Treasurer David Rutherford presenting a cheque for £35,000 at GWH
Automatic external defibrillators have been described as the single most important development in the treatment of sudden cardiac arrest. So the League has written to all the local parish councils within ten miles of Malmesbury offering to fund the installation of a defibrillator in each of their villages. To date, these have been installed in three local villages, with more to come.
Vice-chair Alison Lewis with the new defibrillator in Little Somerford
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