League of Friends - Charity No. 249466
“At that time there were only two shops in the foyer, the League of Friends and a local newsagent who only opened mornings and evenings. Our shop was open from 8am till 6pm. We were allowed to sell cigarettes at that time, as were the trolleys that went round the wards. At the entrance to the foyer we had a shop which sold fruit, flowers and vegetables. This was very popular.
We purchased a van, which was used early mornings, five days a week, to go to the fruit market to collect the fresh produce. The van was also used to go to cash-n-carry to collect the stock for the main shop and trolleys.
The rest of the foyer was a waiting area with water features in the centre. During the development of the shopping mall (as it is to-day) we had to relocate to a room off a corridor on west wing.
The League was very involved in Mellor Cottage, which was used for overnight accommodation for relatives of sick patients. We used to supply all tea, coffee and biscuits to make the stay more comfortable. When this closed in 1983 for development of the hospital, it was agreed that part of Victoria House be converted to replace it, which the League funded, at a cost of £27,000.
In the early days our main fundraising was by way of an Annual Fete, which was held in the hospital grounds. If it was wet we were allowed to use the hospital garage. An annual whist drive was held at the BAT canteen, which was usually supported by about 400 people.
A Guide service was introduced and visitors were escorted to the relevant places in the hospital. This required a good knowledge of the hospital layout and thankfully this is still in place to day as the hospital has grown considerably since then.
The ladies of the League had a sewing circle, which made curtains for all the hospital wards.
We had two tea bars, one on D level and the other on G level, where smoking was allowed.
As the hospital grew we had to vacate G level to make way for offices and the tea bar was then moved to F level where it is still operating today. We were then asked to vacate D level tea bar, which was required for hospital use.
In the last 5 years we have opened a further tea bar in the Oncology Department down on A level.
To celebrate 50 years of the League of Friends, the Reg Lowman Garden was created and opened in 2004. This is situated on B level, off the main service corridor on the way to the Oncology Block”.