May 13, 2016
Golden moment for Friends of Burnham Hospital as it marks 50th year

The golden aniversary of The League of Friends of Burnham-On-Sea Hospital has been celebrated this week with the official opening of a new look garden and the unveiling of a plaque by the former matron.

The aims of The Friends of Burnham Hospital, as it is now known, was formed backed in 1965 to improve the lives of both patients and nurses at the hospital.

The opening of the new garden and the unveiling of a new plaque were held on Thursday (May 12th) to mark the special milestone.

The hospital's enclosed garden has been attractively resurfaced and new garden furniture and window blinds purchased, which can now be used by patients, staff and visitors.

"The 50 years was celebrated by a group of people representing the community, the Hospital and the Somerset Partnership NHS Trust with the guest of honour being Matron Barnes, who was Matron in 1966," said Tony Deahl, Friends Chairman.

"Now a gracious 95 year-old, she was asked to unveil a stone plaque in the garden to commemorate the occasion."

"In addition, a clock and plaque in memory of Mrs Barbara Fisher was put in the Ward Reception Area to mark her contribution as a Founder Member of the League of Friends and Vice Chairman for more than 30 years."

"The local community values and is proud of its Community Hospital and generously supports it."

"The Friends are very grateful for the support from Wyevale Garden Centre (Sanders) who generously provided planting for the garden beds, and sent Chester Allen, a member of staff, to undertake the planting work. Thanks too go to Adam Barnes from AB Memorials in Bridgwater who provided a new plaque at cost and fitted it free of charge."

The Friends was founded back in 1965 following a successful fete organised by enthusiastic nurses in the grounds of their nurse's home. A group of local people assembled to plan a fete for the following year, which was held in Burnham's Manor Gardens.

Although the initial objective was to provide the 'extras' the money donated by local people has meant that the Friends were able to provide over £300,000, matched by the Somerset Trust to completely refurbish the hospital in 2009, to pay for an 'east wing extension' in the early 1980s and a conservatory that links the two ends of the hospital at the end of that decade.

The large detached house adjacent to the hospital was purchased in the 1990s and is now leased to the Trust for a peppercorn rent.

In addition, items from ophthalmic equipment to bladder scanners, bariatric chairs, blood pressure monitors, hi-tech mattresses, a mortuary fridge etc etc have been bought when requested.

Also, daily newspapers, Christmas presents for patients and staff, Easter eggs and dozens of other items have been paid for. Unusually for a Friends group, an Artist in Residence was part funded and even, for a few years, a physiotherapist, when waiting lists were unacceptably long.

More than £2million has come from legacies, gifts in memoriam, donations, the annual fete, social functions and music evenings.

The number of Friends numbers about 200 but the Committee are keen to double this number. Events are always well supported and its website,, is a popular source of news about Friends activities and events, and gives details of how to contact the group for anyone wishing to become a Friend.

The new garden will be open to the public on the afternoon of Saturday 11th June.


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