Dedicated band of hospital Friends hit a huge milestone

Mavin Shulver, Pat Blakeburn, Heather Basey-Fisher and Harald Pulford of The Friends of All Hallows

Mavin Shulver, Pat Blakeburn, Heather Basey-Fisher and Harald Pulford of The Friends of All Hallows Hospital - Credit: Archant

A charity organisation which has raised more than £1m for a hospital is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

The Friends of All Hallows Hospital in Ditchingham are a dedicated group of fundraisers who have spent the past four decades holding garden parties, quizzes, bingo nights and fairs to make sure patients get the best facilities and services possible.

The Friends were formed in 1976 by a group of local people including Harald Pulford, who is now the group’s lifelong president, and was chairman for 18 years.

At the time the hospital was running at a loss and the Friends agreed to help the sisters from the Community of All Hallows, who owned the hospital, to buy oil to heat the building,

Through their fundraising and legacies left by patients and their families the hospital has benefited from a new day treatment and therapy centre, transport, a sensory garden, equipment for beds and more.

Chairman Pat Blakeburn said: “I think for me my overriding memory has been the friendliness of all the people on the committee; people just stop and give their help, it’s just brilliant. If you ask someone to provide something then it’s just done.

“We have a committee of about 18, but we have the best part of 100 subscribers and obviously over the years we have had hundreds. We do need some more young blood though to help keep the momentum going, and for fresh ideas.”

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The committee, which has only ever had four people holding the position of chairman, still includes original members Heather Basey-Fisher, whose late husband Ross was a leading member, and Mavin Shulver, while Shelia Mills, who was the treasurer for 40 years has just retired.

Mrs Basey-Fisher said: “Forty years ago the hospital was a very different kettle of fish. There was no extra wing and no daycare centre and a male and female ward. The sisters ran the hospital and people used to come here to have their babies.

“I will always remember being at Barsham Farm dressed in sack cloths because it was a medieval fair and asking people to donate some money for a gallon of oil.”

Mr Pulford said: “I’m very proud about reaching 40 years because the Friends have worked tirelessly to achieve everything that they have.”

A 40th anniversary party will take place at the hospital on Sunday, welcoming all past and present Friends. And tomorrow the Friends will be hosting a fundraising garden party at 11am with stalls, side shows, games and a bouncy castle.

If you would like to join the Friends group call Pat Blakeburn on 01986 892493.