Charity supporting West Suffolk Hospital relaunches with packed calendar

Hospital charity My WiSH mascot Dr Edmund with fundraising manager Sue Smith ANL-160705-212510001
Hospital charity My WiSH mascot Dr Edmund with fundraising manager Sue Smith ANL-160705-212510001

A lot of thought went into finding a new name for the charity that supports West Suffolk Hospital.

It had to reflect its commitment to the hospital, its place in the community, and, above all, the inspirational people who raise the money.

Hospital charity- donor Ben Lord (centre) with patients and staff ANL-160805-175815001

Hospital charity- donor Ben Lord (centre) with patients and staff ANL-160805-175815001

Today West Suffolk Hospital Charity relaunches as My WiSH, with a packed calendar of eye-catching events to put it firmly in the spotlight.

They include a world record attempt for the most people in one place playing inflatable guitars.

Sue Smith, fundraising manager, says the rebranding is important to make people aware of the charity.

“The previous name was a little too corporate, so we had a brainstorming session to come up with a new one.

hospital charity - donor James Cotton with his son Thomas ANL-160805-175801001

hospital charity - donor James Cotton with his son Thomas ANL-160805-175801001

“It’s only a small charity and it’s easy to get lost in the vastness of working in an NHS Foundation Trust.

“My WiSH is about giving ownership to the community. We needed to keep the WSH initials, and the i pays tribute to our ‘inspirational’ supporters.

“We allow others to say what their wishes are and choose exactly where they would like their money to go.

“It might be a chair for chemotherapy patients, or a special thermometer. They can see it and think, we bought that.”

hospital charity - pic from the 2015 it's a Bury knockout ANL-160705-212522001

hospital charity - pic from the 2015 it's a Bury knockout ANL-160705-212522001

Most of us don’t think about our local hospital until illness or injury strikes. We just know it’s there if we need it.

Skilled and dedicated staff will mend our broken bones, treat life-threatening conditions, and bring our children into the world.

Whether patients ourselves, or waiting anxiously by the bedsides of loved ones, we take it completely for granted.

The last thing on our minds is probably how much it costs to run such a complex organisation.

The answer is half a million pounds .... every single day. Or, put another way, £5 a second.

With such massive demands on its finances the budget won’t always stretch to the latest innovations or improvements.

So the role of the charity devoted to supporting its work has never been more vital.

No-one knows that better than the grateful families who have already expressed their thanks by raising funds.

James and Joanne Cotton wanted to give something back to the “amazing” Rainbow Ward.

They describe their seven-year-old son Thomas as “our little marvel”.

Four years ago, Thomas had brain surgery after being diagnosed with rare neurological syndrome Rasmussen’s Encephalitis.

He was suffering seizures every 30 seconds, but in 2012 underwent a hemispherectomy to disconnect the left side of his brain and put an end to his two-year ordeal.

James and Joanne organised two summer discos at Great Whelnetham to thank Rainbow Ward for its role in Thomas’ recovery,.

They raised more than £3,000 for the ward and The Daisy Garland, a charity which supports children with life threatening epilepsy.

James said: “We feel completely indebted to the Rainbow Ward. It is the best children’s ward we have ever experienced.

“It was a nice feeling being able to give something back and to know every penny we raised was going to support the amazing work of everyone connected to the ward.”

Ixworth businessman Ben Lord said: “My WiSH was to say thank you to a hospital that has helped my family so much,”

Ben launched the Arthrose Appeal in February 2014 to support theTrauma and Orthopaedic Department.

His grandmother, Beryl Rose, had undergone 11 operations in 14 years. He wanted to spearhead an appeal to directly support the department and reward the “absolute excellence by dedicated professionals”.

Having raised more than £18,000 through fundraising events, donations and a series of grants including £9,000 from the St Edmunds Trust, Ben has seen with his own eyes the difference the campaign has made.

Six new specialist walking frames and a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine to help knee joint recovery have already been purchased.

Ben said: “After the care and support the team had shown my nan and our whole family, I just wanted to do whatever I could to raise awareness of their fantastic work – and raise funds at the same time.

“We would have been completely lost without the team and this was our way of giving something back and helping other patients.”

And after the new name was announced, Ben added: “I know the ‘I’ in My WiSH stands for ‘inspirational’ and that is what the hospital has been for my family.”

Fundraising manager Sue, who used to work as a surgeons’ assistant at the West Suffolk helping with caesarean births. says: “It’s the community’s hospital and we need to nurture and love it.

“Rebranding the charity is like a rebirth - nerve-racking but exciting all at the same time.

“The job has to be a passion. You couldn’t be in this world if it wasn’t ... you have to believe in what you are raising funds for.

“West Suffolk Hospital will always give you the best care, but by fundraising we can help ensure that the equipment and facilities are the best they can be.

“We can help to provide specialist equipment that makes lives easier for both patients and staff.

“Every single person in our community has either needed the hospital in their lifetime or knows someone who has.

“We are not here to bridge any gaps, we are here to enhance the care and support we can offer to the community.”

Along with the new name comes a new mascot ... Dr Edmund. The teddy bear medic will act as an ambassador for the charity and is sure to be a hit with youngsters.

Sue, who is assisted by fundraising officer Sally Daniels and two part-time helpers, never has to look far for a reason to carry on her work.

“I meet so many inspirational people. It’s not always about the money, it’s the passion and the love and driving force behind what they do.

“I was so moved by a little boy who did a Pimms and cake afternoon for the Macmillan Unit because his grandad had been treated there for cancer.

“The way he spoke about it reduced me to tears.

“Everyone has their reasons for doing what they do, but every one touches you in a different way.

“If you’re having a bad day, they give you a reason to soldier on ... like the little girl with diabetes who had been putting on bingo sessions for the diabetes unit.

“Every one of our fundraisers is an inspiration, and we are privileged to hear some very very moving and touching stories.”

Last weekend sponsored skydivers were in action to boost the charity’s funds.

Then on Saturday May 21 it’s time to unleash your inner rock star and head for Hardwick Heath to help create a new world record.

My WiSH is out to set a record for the most people playing inflatable guitars in one place.

You can grab a guitar on the day for a £5 donation but booking online at www.whs.nhs.uk/Charity/Events/WRA.aspx gives you the chance to win an iPad mini.

Proceeds will go towards a £25,000 Sherlock Machine for the Medical Treatment Unit to help administer medications including chemotherapy.

It ensures staff can insert a catheter line so patients receive their treatment without the constant need for cannulation which can be difficult and painful when people are ill.

Next event is the West Suffolk Spin on May 29 - a 25, 50 or 100 mile cycle ride starting at Nowton Park.

Organisers of the Homegrown Music Festival at Barrow, which takes place on June 10, 11 and 12, will donate half the price of all tickets purchased via a link on the hospital charity website.

Toddle for Tots at Hardwick Heath on June 18 is raising money for the maternity department.

It includes a teddy bears’ picnic, Punch and Judy show and face painting, plus a special appearance by mascot Dr Edmund.

The ever popular It’s a Bury Knockout takes place on July 24 at Hardwick Heath.

It costs £500 to enter and there are spaces for 18 teams, each of 10 people.

“The competitive spirit is amazing. It’s a great day ... people really come out of their shells, getting covered in foam and water,” says Sue.

The charity has also been chosen to be one of the beneficiaries of the Bobby Robson Auction in October.