Our Lockdown Stories

We know that this is a difficult time for all of our member groups, with many of you having to suspend your normal activities, but we would love to know how your group is dealing with the current situation? Are you doing things differently? Are you still able to help in some way, especially if it is different to the way you normally operate?

If your group has a story to share then please email Debbie.baverstock@attend.org.uk. Your story will help to inspire other groups to try an alternative way to raise funds, find volunteers, help frontline staff or the community in the current situation. The articles here show how some groups are changing what they do and how it is making a difference to so many people.


The Guild of the Royal Hospital of St Bartholomew



Compiled by the Chairman and Shop Manager and sent in By Hilary Tarr (Trustee)

As one of the original hospital friends’ organisations, the Guild of St Barts has seen so many times of national and world crisis that it has learned to take challenging times in its stride.  That said, we have experienced real loss and trauma this time, losing one of our most beloved and inspiring volunteers.

Despite this, the Guild Shop, following safety protocols extremely carefully, has been proud to support St Bartholomew’s Hospital staff and patients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Although some of our volunteers understandably decided to isolate at home, we have still been able to keep the shop open every weekday and regularly receive thanks for keeping our services available. Sadly, a ward shop trolley service we provide had to be suspended due to infection control requirements but we hope to have that service running again at some point in 2021. Our achievements were recognised during a lovely phone call from our Patron, HRH The Duke of Gloucester, who spoke for some time with a few of our volunteers after they had finished a shift in the shop.

In addition to keeping our shop service running, the Guild was happily able to provide a donation of £4,000 in 50% cold drink discounts to our amazing NHS staff and support workers as a gesture of recognition and thanks for all of their hard work and dedication.

Business in our online souvenir store was suspended from the first lockdown until early September 2020, but remained open during the second lockdown for the sale of Guild calendars and Christmas cards which saw most encouraging sales.  We hope to fully open the store in spring 2021.

Also at Christmas, the Guild funded a splendid Christmas tree erected in the atrium of the Hospital’s King George V Building which delighted and cheered both staff and clinic users.  The Guild’s annual Christmas Concert fundraising event successfully moved on-line with the assistance of our faithful and talented student participants from Barts and The London Music Society.  It was gratifying to learn that the event reached more attendees than would have been the case if held in-person.

The Guild’s grant-giving activity slowed to a trickle in the spring of 2020, in large part because attendance at conferences, courses and other gathering events was not possible.  However, we were very glad to support staff by contributing to the cost of an art and wellbeing initiative: Coping through Connection and Creativity, organised by the Lead Art Psychotherapist for St Bartholomew's Hospital.  Most positive feedback was received from staff who benefitted from an outlet for expression and relief of stress.  An exhibition of artwork, photography and modelling was made available for all staff to view.  Since the end of last summer, the Guild has been able to award an increased number of grants, including for equipment for therapies and other benefits for patients and staff.

So, all in all, this time of loss and challenge has helped us to remember who we are: a group of concerned and active citizens, looking for practical ways to help, and cherishing one another in the process.  


Chester Childbirth Appeal


Provided by Patricia Daniels

Currently, like all other charities, we have no means of fundraising, none of our classical music concerts and no fundraising events. Our Comfort Zone area has had to be taken over to be used for Covid-19 related medical use. This was an area that gave tranquility and provided peace and respite away from the clinical areas for patients' relatives and hard-working NHS staff. They could always depend on the Comfort Zone for obtaining good nutritious food, served by smiling, attentive staff and volunteers.

Any profit made by the Comfort Zone shop and cafe is a bonus as it is used to purchase items that NHS staff in the Women and Children's Unit need but cannot afford so we feel very proud of our work. Next year will see our 30th anniversary and I am proud that with the dedicated support of our committee, volunteers and patrons we have raised over £2 million to aid the NHS staff in their endeavours to provide much needed items for the mothers and their babies. However, especially without the Comfort Zone and any fundraising abilities we are looking for alternative means of support. One of the ways we are doing this is by being part of AmazonSmile. This gives the charity 0.5% of the net purchase price for anyone shopping with Amazon and mentioning the Charity. 

We have received generous donations from Waitrose - £660, a microwave from Tesco for our Lavender Suite and a television provided by Morrisons for the Antenatal Day Unit..

We are also in the process of providing the following items 

  • A ring-fenced £75,000 to fund the Transitional Care Unit, where the parents of premature babies can gain confidence in their ability to care for their child before taking them home. This magnificent sum was raised primarily by local organisations Christleton Wednesday Club and Hope Farm Methodist Church after we visited them to display the plans, costings and need for such an area, alongside fantastic donations from many other generous people.
  • 4 overnight chair-beds for our post-natal ward and bereavement unit
  • Prams and Cots Galore donated a moses basket and stand and I have donated a baby bath and stand for our Lavender Suite
  • 3 adjustable height cots
  • A Draeger Bilirubinometer for use by the community midwives which identifies dangerous levels of jaundice enabling them to transfer the affected baby to hospital without delay
  • A CTG monitor  and a trolley for the Ante-natal Day Unit
  • 6 paramedic bags for community midwives
  • a foetal bedside resuscitator

Whatever lies ahead, I have every faith in our committee, trustees and volunteers to ensure the charity will continue to be successful and we look forward to happier, healthier times this year.


League of Friends of Alnwick Hospital

Anne Harper, Chair of the League kindly sent us the following update:

Like all other voluntary organisations trying to raise funds is a non starter, we would normally hold our annual Coffee Morning and also a  supermarket  Bag Pac.  We also used to  receive donations and monies raised by various fund raising groups.    However, we were fortunate enough to have the Captain of Foxton Golf Club ask if he could have the League of Friends as his Charity for the year 2019/20, of course we all agreed  The final total we received was £1620.00 which was a pleasant boost to our funds.  

Unfortunately we had to close our Hospital Shop  in March and have not opened it since,  we could not offer our trolley service  around the ward which we all enjoyed - meeting and chatting to the patients,  but  health issues come first

We normally hold meetings twice a year, however, this has not happened this year. I keep in touch with our members by  telephone and  email , sending them Hospital updates and any requests that we receive from Matron for equipment.   All our Members cannot wait to resume normal duties -   but who knows when this will happen?   We have an excellent group of Members, I must say last Christmas we organised a' Get Together' at one of our local Hotels, it was such a lovely happy  atmosphere when Members  were able to meet up with  each other in different surroundings.

Every year we present the first baby born at Hillcrest Maternity Home, attached to the hospital, with a commemorative plate, unfortunately,  the presentation to this year's baby, due to take place in March, had to be cancelled.  The presentation is made by our President, Her Grace The Duchess of Northumberland , this will take place sometime!!!!

We are so fortunate in Alnwick to have such a lovely friendly  Community Hospital, all departments are now open.

Friends of Eastbourne Hospital

The following success story was sent in by Sue Duffell, secretary:

At the beginning of April the Friends were asked if they would be able to help the hard working staff at the Eastbourne DGH with some ‘comforts’ to make their lives a little more pleasant during this difficult time. Of course, we were delighted to be able to help and immediately launched the appeal via Virgin Money Giving. The local community did not let us down, and over £43,000 was raised. Alongside the many donations from members and the public there were many individual local fundraising events, including online quizzes, cake sales sponsored walks and fitness sessions, even the auction of a share of a race horse.

With much help from the team in the Friends shop, and the shop suppliers, we were quickly able to start sourcing things from peanuts to cold drinks, fresh fruit, sweet and savoury snacks , hand and face creams , lip balms and many other items that were greatly appreciated by the staff. A distribution hub was set up within the hospital which opened at certain times during the week where members of each team were able to come and collect (at a safe distance) bags of goodies to be shared amongst their teams. This was for all staff that were working so hard at this time, not just the doctors and nurses.

In addition to that, as wards became separated into Covid and non-Covid areas, new staff rest rooms were created and from money donated to the appeal we were able to provide fridges, microwaves, kettles, toasters and coffee machines. For the doctors’ mess we provided some camp beds, reclining chairs and throws to enable them to get some well earned rest.

We were pleased to supply birthday cards and boxes of chocolates for any staff that had birthdays during this time. As time went by the needs of the staff started to change and we were able to respond to any new requests that come in.
In the long term, when the emergency is happily resolved, we have assured everyone that any remaining funds will be returned to the restricted fund that we have always maintained specifically for the benefit of Eastbourne DGH staff.  Any money raised will therefore be for the benefit of our staff whether in the course of the pandemic or not.

Friends of the Hospital of St Cross

A poignant project chronicling lockdown life in a Warwickshire town is continuing to raise vital funds for dedicated hospital supporters:

Rugby: My Town In Lockdown features moving photographs and emotional testimonies of the town's residents living under the harsh COVID-19 restrictions earlier this year. Devised and compiled by local freelance professional photographer Jamie Gray, the book has already raised hundreds of pounds for the Friends of the Hospital of St Cross.

Mr Gray, a lifelong resident in the town who thought of the project while walking through the deserted Rugby streets as the pandemic initially took hold, said the book had been a true labour of love.

"Early on in lockdown I struggled to find anything worthwhile to do," Mr Gray said.  "I couldn't work from home and had little work coming in. Like a lot of people, my life had been turned upside down.  It struck me that although this was a terrible time for Rugby and its wonderful residents, the story of how we coped during this surreal period needed to be captured and told. It's a story of Rugby, its residents and businesses and how they have been challenged by the nationwide lockdown, but also how they overcame that challenge".

The 32-page book, which costs £10, includes several thoughts from Rugby residents living with lockdown, as well as other thought-provoking images of the town. Rugby Borough Council supported the project, helping Mr Gray meet people in the town and providing access to shielding hubs and the Rugby Foodbank.

A 20% slice of profits from each sale of the book was donated to the long-running Friends of St Cross charity, which raises money in order to donate equipment to the town's hospital and community service. A corporate photographer by trade, Mr Gray said his experiences working as a former photographer with the town's Rugby Advertiser newspaper for several years had further spurred his enthusiasm.

 "I've been photographing the Rugby community for several years, and although I now focus on photographing businesses around the country, I've never lost the desire to represent my local area," Mr Gray said. "The Friends of St Cross embody everything that's great about Rugby - wonderful people uniting for a wonderful reason. That's why I wanted to help them how I could. I thank everyone who supported me. Hopefully this is a lasting document of how we were separated during lockdown but how in many ways we were all united."

The book, which has so far raised £230, has been stocked by several local shops including the Revel Bakery, Inside 22, Rugby School Enterprises, The Merchant's Inn and Rugby Cycle Repairs. 

Copies are also still available at the town's Hunt's Bookshop and the Rugby Visitor Centre, as well as via their respective Facebook pages.

Willy Goldschmidt, Chairman of The Friends of St Cross, said the book, which is also available to order via www.jamiegrayphotography.co.uk is a wonderful gesture.

“This donation will be put towards the Friends Sapphire Anniversary Appeal which is celebrating 65 years since the formation of the charity and aims to raise £65,000. This year the charity has committed £200,000 towards the project which will bring Chemotherapy Services to the hospital.  We believe that if everyone in Rugby, who knows someone who has been affected by cancer, donates £1 we will beat our target! We look forward to hearing of more novel ways in which Rugbeians plan to raise money for the Appeal!”

Chester Childbirth Appeal

Pat Daniels has kindly sent in the following update:

We have been unable to gain access to our office and have no means of organising any fundraising such as concerts or combined events with other local charities. However we have been able to fund some much needed items for the mothers, babies and children. The midwives have appreciated this help from us.

In October 2019, Morrisons’ Head Office in Bradford sent us a cheque for £14,000 with the express purpose of funding some billrubinometers. We had already been able to provide one of these in 2019, and this generous gift enabled us to supply a further three. A Billrubinometer, carried by the district midwife enables her to check the baby’s level of jaundice. It enables the midwife to ascertain the degree of jaundice and to get a baby with dangerous levels into the hospital as soon as possible for life saving treatment.

We are in the process of providing some over-night bed chairs for fathers to stay with their partners, and some adjustable height cots which will be of enormous help to mothers who have had a Caesarian section.

Pat has been trying to stay in touch with all volunteers and workers for the charity via telephone calls. They have received some donations from the local community and have also signed up to Amazon Smile which means that whenever someone shops with Amazon Smile they donate 0.5% of the purchase to Chester Childbirth Appeal.

The Appeal has raised £75,000 and as well as the items mentioned above have also agreed to fund an Aromatherapy course for the labour wards and community midwives, a CTG monitor for the Antenatal Day Unit, 6 paramedic bags to standardise contents for community midwives and a foetal bedside resuscitator amongst other items .