History of the League of Friends of Horsham Hospital

In the year 1959 Horsham Hospital had a volunteer gap. The Supporters Association, which had given much aid to the hospital through the 1940’s and 1950’s, had been disbanded with just £40 in the bank. The small house committee of four people led by hospital secretary Molly Andrews decided to form a new organisation called The League of Friends. Molly spent 36 years at the hospital between 1944 and 1981 and was one of the League’s proudest supporters.

Thus the League of Friends of Horsham Hospital was established on February 27, 1959, with former government ambassador Sir John Troutbeck in the chair. He was “thoroughly convinced” that the League was needed because “while the Government provided what was strictly necessary, they would not provide more.” His words proved prophetic because the new group was called upon to find money for a wide range of equipment and facilities for decades to come.

Lavinia, The Duchess of Norfolk, became Patron, a post she held for 36 years and was succeeded by her daughter The Lady Mary Mumford, whilst Sir Giles Loder of Leonardslee was first President.

Amongst the vice presidents was Goon Show star Harry Secombe who opened the first summer fete in August, 1959, and presented the League’s first major gift, a complete new radio system for the wards.  Other stars have since opened the ever popular fete including John Mills, Anthony Andrews, Tony Britton, Sandy Gaul, Richard Briers and David Hamilton.

League work accelerated after 1981 when the hospital was more than doubled in size with volunteers taking on the hospital shop, tea bar and care of the courtyard gardens. The committee was inevitably drawn into hospital politics and campaigned against the ending of 24 hour accident and emergency cover in 1969 and closure of the maternity department in 1985.

Members took part in the hospital centenary in 1992 and then raised the sum of £225,000 towards equipment needed for a brand new Out Patients Department in 1995. They also helped to bring about a new Hospital Chapel in 1998.

The biggest single event in the League’s history came in 2005 when a sum of £400,000 was presented to the NHS for brand new equipment to complement a £2.5 million refurbishment programme, the bulk of the money going to X-Ray equipment and Minor Injuries Unit.

Thousands of small items have been purchased for all departments, dozens of major projects undertaken and numerous items of expensive medical equipment purchased. When the League celebrated its 50th anniversary with a grand party in February 2009 it was announced that total spending on the hospital had reached £2,140,000.


League of Friends of Horsham Hospital, Horsham Hospital, Hurst Road, Horsham, RH12 2DR
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