Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog

Welcome to the new Nottingham Hospitals Charity (NHC) blog and thanks for showing an interest in NHC!
Our blog will be made up of posts from different people at the Charity including our fundraising team and our management team who will share with you insights into their working lives and day-to-day experience at NHC. We will also feature guest bloggers from time-to-time, so you can hear directly from the staff we work with and the patients we support.

smallicon Blog Post June 2017-Written by Lucy Fisher (Volunteers Coordinator) 

Celebrating the joys of giving something back during National Volunteer Week (1-7 June)

Our volunteers at Nottingham Hospitals Charity are an important source of support for our team, providing not just support but direct links to our local communities, helping us be at the heart of care for patients and their families in Nottingham.

Some of our volunteers have been patients in Nottingham hospitals themselves, some have had friends or family helped by our hospitals and some simply want to do something to help their local NHS.

This week you can read about volunteers like Carmen, Hannah and Adil who are just three examples of the great range of support that volunteers provide – covering all ages and backgrounds.

I have personally devoted 16 years to volunteering, helping school children reach their potential, supporting service users in hospitals and charities and promoting development abroad. I have found volunteering incredibly rewarding and believe that it has given just as much back to me as an individual, as I have given to the communities and organisations that I have had the pleasure of supporting. I have learned new skills and gained experiences that have enabled me to take an active role in society.  So I’m a really strong advocate for the benefits of volunteering!

When I came to work for Nottingham Hospitals Charity in 2016 we were keen to embed volunteering into our work. Our focus has been on reaching out to different parts of the community and helping others to benefit from volunteering while helping Nottingham Hospitals Charity to expand its relationships, build fundraising capacity and increase productivity.

My focus has been on developing volunteering roles and processes, as well as a mutually supportive relationship with the Nottingham University Hospitals Trust Volunteering Service, which has played a key role in sharing expertise, supporting volunteer training and promoting volunteer opportunities, in order to enhance the work of our Charity.

Over the summer I will be working with colleagues to develop volunteer recruitment, looking at how we can improve the involvement of volunteers in things like fundraising committees and as ambassadors. We are also continuing to recruit volunteers who can support our busy calendar of outdoor events as well as  go out into the community to collect donation tins and talk to different audiences about the work we do.  All this increases the profile of our work and fundraising for patients across Nottingham.

If you would like to find out more about the joys of volunteering for Nottingham Hospitals Charity, please contact me on 0115 969 1169 ext. 55663 or email

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter

smallicon Blog Post May 2017 – written by James Tolhurst and Marc Block, founders of Wellspring Music CIC

Dementia Awareness Week: Charity-funded music programme is helping dementia patients at Nottingham’s hospitals

We formed Wellspring Music CIC in 2015 during our Music in Healthcare apprenticeship with OPUS Music CIC. We’re now in our second year of working on dementia ward B47 at the QMC, funded by Nottingham Hospitals Charity.

Singing and playing mandolin, guitar and harmonicas, we visit the ward each week, playing at bedsides, in corridors and in the day room, for patients, staff and relatives. People are encouraged to join in by singing, dancing and playing the ward’s instruments specially curated for the project.

We get a tremendous response from the people on B47, and it’s clear that music-making is really valuable to people with dementia. Even the hardest to reach can connect and communicate through music. The positive results of the music are reduced stress, isolation and boredom, and stimulation of memories and sense of identity. One of our feedback cards read “the music was so soft and pleasing to the soul that we felt very happy and calm in spirit and forgot all our problems”.

To find out more about what Marc and James do, visit their website .

To support dementia care at Nottingham’s hospitals, please visit our donations page

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter

smallicon Blog Post April 2017 – Written by Jane Hansell  (Speech and Language Therapist)

April marks Parkinson’s Week and we have a personal overview from the frontline

Jane Hansell from Nottingham Hospital’s Speech and Language Therapy Department talks to us about the importance of Lightwriters and how they can help patients with Parkinson’s Disease when they have difficulties with their speech.

 Patients with Parkinson’s disease can have communication impairments which significantly impact on their ability to communicate verbally. Having a communication aid such as a Lightwriter can improve their ability to communicate their daily needs regarding such things as personal care, food, drink and leisure activities. It also enables them to engage socially, to participate in conversations and to engage in communications with other people independently.

Currently we are focussing on buying another Lightwriter which is a Communication Aid that can transform the lives of people with Parkinson’s disease.

Unless you have experienced Parkinson’s disease and understand the vital importance of equipment like Lightwriters, you might not appreciate the vital role they play.  Lightwriters are text-to-speech devices where a person who cannot speak types a message on a keyboard, which then produces an artificial voice to say the words aloud for the listener to hear. The message is also displayed on a screen so that both the user and the person they are communicating with can read the message too.

Giving someone a voice and alternative means of communication, when Parkinson’s disease has affected their own voice, is so incredibly important.  It means they can communicate with their families and our staff and communicate their needs, wishes and fears enabling us to support them more.  The impact on people is so positive and makes it much easier to provide the care that each specific person needs.

 When in hospital this means they can engage more effectively in discussions about their care, express their views and communicate with staff. This reduces frustration and isolation and affects quality of life significantly.

A key priority during the treatment of Parkinson’s disease is ensuring an effective means of communication for patients, which is why communication aids like Lightwriters are so important. For me and my team Parkinson’s Week is a really important opportunity to talk more about this disease and how we can help patients.

lightwriter - kmage for blogpost

If you want to donate to Nottingham Hospitals Charity’s Lightwriter Appeal here is how to do it.

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter




smallicon Blog Post March 2017 – Written by Alison Hayward (Fundraiser)

Baking a difference with TV’s Sue Perkins

One of our Fundraisers, Alison Hayward, Is known for her love of baking and cakes in particular. So she was front of the queue to bake a cake that would grab TV Bake Off star, Sue Perkins’ attention when she visited us this month to support our Big Appeal’s Big Bake in aid of Nottingham children’s hospital.  Here Alison gives the low down on meeting the very generous, very funny and very cake-orientated celebrity.


“I decided to make Robin’s BIG Appeal Treasure Chest, for all of his fundraising money. The cake was a chocolate chip loaf – I find the baking easy and the decorating quite tough, so chocolate ganache, buttons, matchmakers, lot of treasure and a bit of building work with cake and I had a treasure chest! Baking and decorating my entry was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. “

On the day Sue was outstandingly generous with her time, touring the Children’s Hospital cancer and orthopaedic wards chatting to children and parents.  All of this meant that the gathered bakers, other children and their families were waiting anxiously for Sue to arrive. With the tension growing people were eyeing up each other’s cakes and their competition. The cakes included an array of shapes and sizes, from Robin’s Merry Men cupcakes to cake towers of tree trunks, hospital beds and forest scenery. One of the most interesting ones included a cake masterpiece’ of an ambulance, perfectly sculpted Robins, and vibrant cakes that varied from treasure chests to hand made figurines of Sue Perkins herself.

“As people started to bring in their cakes it was clear to see how excited everyone was to meet Sue and how much effort everyone had put into their cakes. Many people came back to the QMC after picking their children up from school so that they didn’t miss out on the judging. “

As the judging started it became clear quickly, that faced with over twenty cakes, Sue was still intent on tasting each and every one of them. She kept the anxious audience laughing as she commented on each cake, including ones with patients in beds attached to blood bags of red icing, as well as a rather corpulent iced depiction of Sue on a cake which the comedienne said was “not my size!”.

“I was surprised when Sue tried a bit of every cake, and delighted when she liked my sponge.  She found positive things to say about every cake, and had everyone in stiches with her funny judging. She was genuinely impressed by all the cakes and said that she’d seen a lot worse on the Bake Off! “

After two amazing hours at the hospital Sue came to the final results of the Big Bake for our Big Appeal and as is she still chose a quirky but inspired winner, from one of the young hospitals Youth Service Member, Jennifer Halls worth. Along with her mum, Jennifer had made a vegan ‘take on a choc bake’ and Sue’s recognition for wheel chair user Jennifer and her efforts was well deserved.

“After the judging Sue chatted and had photos with lots of people before heading back to the car to rush of for a sound check that she was already late for. As I was walking her back to the car she told me how impressed she was by all the staff at the Children’s Hospital and everything they do to support their patients; and reiterated how impressed she was by how much effort, time and skill people had out into baking for such a good cause. “

“Having cleared up after the event I then went to see Sue in her show. It was fantastic; the show was based on parts of her memoir ‘Spectacles’ with family pictures, stories from family holidays and of course the Bake Off. It was incredibly funny and the whole theatre was laughing out loud from start to finish. After a fabulous day, nearly one hundred and fifty pounds was raised all to go towards the Big Appeal, a great cause”

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter

smallicon Blog Post February 2017 – Written by Susan Littlemore (Marketing & Communications Manager)

YOUR Nottingham Children’s Hospital is going to the Movies!

Our first ever Cinema Animation, launched this month and in cinemas from March, is all about Nottingham Children’s Hospital.

It’s a whistle-stop tour of this amazing place that supports over 60,000 children and their families each year.

As part of this I went with our fundraising team on our own whistle-stop tour of Nottingham with the hospital’s Little Robin Hood mascot to promote the new Animation. 1H2A2163

The Animation has been developed to capture the imagination and support of local communities across Nottingham, showing what an amazing place they have here.

The Animation is part of our Big Appeal for Nottingham Children’s Hospital which aims to raise £3 million in three years and we need YOUR support to do this. What’s great is that the range of support YOU can give is almost as amazing as the hospital itself:

If you’re a keen participant in charity runs, jumps, abseils who’s looking for your next challenge we have just the things for you – contact us!

If you are someone who likes putting on bakes, sales, raffles and are looking for your next Big Bake we are the place to come – contact us!

If you’re part of a school or group that feels you want to support your local community and are looking for a fun fundraising opportunity we’ve got a lot of ideas – contact us!

If you are a member of a commercial team, sports, leisure or any other business scouting around for a Charity partnership in Nottingham we have lots of ways we can work together – contact us!

If you are someone who is touched by the plight of sick children and who simply wants to make a donation then that will make a huge difference to our Big Appeal – contact us!

And if you want to find out more have a look at our Big Appeal Animation.  We would love lots of people, places, businesses and events to help us spread the word about YOUR Nottingham Children’s Hospital and show the film.  Happy viewing!

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter

smallicon Blog Post January 2017 – Written by Barbara Cathcart (Chief Executive)

2016 took us from pulses to Parliament and from Corrie to the Chancellor in a landmark year in which the Charity celebrated its tenth anniversary.

Thanks to you, our supporters, we were able to make an impact over a vast range of services to benefit patients. From investment in research, innovation and equipment through to complementary therapies and enhancing facilities for families, all our charitably supported projects over the past year have enhanced patient care and helped families and carers in the East Midlands.

One of the highlights of my year was meeting the real Robin Hood at Nottingham in Parliament Day and persuading him to join our Trust’s Chief Executive, Peter Homa, in a 100-foot abseil down QMC. As the two launched themselves off the building we launched our Big Appeal to raise £3 million for Nottingham Children’s Hospital. The money will fund lifesaving diagnostic equipment, much needed accommodation for families – many of whom have to travel long distances to bring their children to hospital – and research into childhood conditions. Look out for our Big Appeal updates and events in the coming months.

Peter had already proven he had a head for heights when he – along with others from his executive team – jumped out of a plane to raise money for our charity. Indeed the lengths that our supporters will go to raise funds for the Charity never cease to amaze me. One supporter who went the extra mile was Lara Beardsley who not only ran 40 miles non-stop through the night in the gruelling Grim Reaper ultra-marathon but also managed to be the first female past the post. Well done Lara, and thank you for your valiant efforts!

I recently learnt that 2016 was International Year of Pulses, of all things!  The British Edible Pulses Association dinner raised an impressive £11,600. BEPA member Paddy Barrett chose to fundraise for Neonatal because his grand-daughter Amaya was born 16 weeks premature with chronic lung disease and is still receiving treatment at Nottingham Children’s Hospital. Paddy and Amaya’s mother, Melanie, have been powerful advocate for the Big Appeal.

Special thanks go to the Lord Mayor of Nottingham, Councillor Mohammed Saghir, who chose our Tiny Babies Appeal as one of his nominated charities, inspired by personal experience of his own children being born prematurely. His support has helped raise the profile of the excellent work of our Neonatal Services. We also had a surprise celebrity endorsement when Coronation Street star Tina O’Brien and her fiancé Adam donated their £30,000 jackpot winnings from ITV’s All Star Mr and Mrs to the Children’s Hospital.

Another highlight was meeting our fundraising target for the Helipad Appeal thanks to the Chancellor’s announcement of £1.3 million LIBOR funding. Access to a Helipad at our Major Trauma Centre at Queens Medical Centre is vital to saving minutes and saving lives. I’d like to personally thank all those who have supported the helipad appeal including ten of our local MPs who backed our funding bid.

One important project to come to fruition during the year was the Bra Shop at the Nottingham Breast Institute, funded by the Charity. It is the only hospital-based Bra Shop outside London and gives women who have had breast surgery a choice of lingerie and swimwear and expert advice from specially trained volunteers.

We drew the year to a close with our first ever ‘Lights to celebrate’ event in which people who sponsored a light to remember someone special met to sing carols and light candles at the City Hospital Christmas tree. This moving event coincided with the launch of our ‘In Memory’ film featuring personal stories of supporters who have raised money to remember a loved one.

2017 gives us the opportunity to help transform the lives of sick children in Nottingham as our Big Appeal gathers pace. We are fortunate to have such a devoted community of staff and supporters and look forward to another year of making things better for Nottingham’s patients.

I am also indebted to our Charity team, without whom all these activities and funding would not be possible. Their professionalism, devotion and commitment are top notch. Give us a call and meet them for yourselves – you’ll soon share their infectious enthusiasm for our work for patients.

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter

smallicon Blog Post December 2016 – Written by guest blogger Carly Williams

Martin and Carly

Carly Williams and her partner Martin Sommerville set up “Zephyr’s” with Nottingham Hospitals Charity, after their first son was stillborn at Nottingham City Hospital. They are working with the Charity, Trust, and other bereaved parents to create a purpose-built centre for anyone affected by pregnancy loss, or the death of a baby or child. Carly writes about their feelings after attending the recent “Lights to Celebrate” Christmas event:

Hot soup, mince pies and well-rehearsed melodies drifted along on the breeze as we arrived to a welcoming and familiar winter’s scene – dark drawn-in night, brightened by glistening lights, huddled folks and festivities. No church walls, no time-worn pews rounded smooth by use, instead, the short evening of Christmas carolling and light was at Nottingham City hospital, the first gentle ‘In Memory’ get-together, just setting out in its infancy.

It is because of an infant that we were there, not the babe in the manger – rather, we remembered our own son, our first child Zephyr. Because of him, his father, his brother, and I, his mother, stood among others, shining lights for loved ones, in memory, celebration and in honour.

As we did so, we reflected on the night; coal black sky, misty moon, and crisp air, all reminiscent of the fateful day in December 2013 that we hurried to the hospital, full of concern (yet disbelief) that something might be wrong with our child, the babe within my womb, whom my body was getting ready to deliver.

No donkey, no wise men, but searching for refuge and help, we arrived at the city hospital. So gently were we welcomed. On that night three years ago we fell into the darkest times of our life. Our son died, and was stillborn at the hospital. Everything changed.

Later, returning to the place where we learned of our son’s death, where we met our precious, beautiful baby, only to say goodbye, something began to grow within us. As we walked again through the corridors of heartbreak, where we’d left with empty arms and shattered lives, our desire to do something to make a difference grew. For the hospital not only held our desperate grief and sadness, but also those first moments of utter joy as we embraced the child we’d long awaited to meet; as we learned he was a boy, as we chose to name him Zephyr.

Now, in December 2016. Our family looks different to how we’d expected it. We are four, but only three. We live, not only remembering our son with candle light, but keeping him with us from day to day in our lives. We live also, with his little brother, in our arms.

Beneath this year’s Christmas tree, at the first of Nottingham Hospital’s Charity’s “Lights to Celebrate…” events, we lit candles to honour our son, and to celebrate the many short lives of the babies whose families we’ve come to know. The City hospital continues to envelop us with a love that shrouds the darkness. As we strive now to work together with the Trust and the Charity, the death of our son has led us to dream of building “Zephyr’s” a centre for bereaved families. Together we are moving towards a place of care, where families can gather to remember, to honour, hope and love; a place where all those lives – changed by our children who have died – can feel held and understood, at any time of year.

smallicon Blog Post November 2016 – Written by Nigel Gregory (Director of Development)

The heart-stopping moment our Director of Development sent Robin Hood over a precipice for our Big Appeal for Nottingham Children’s Hospital

Peter Homa and Robin Hood launch The Big Appeal

Trust CEO Peter Homa and Robin Hood launch The Big Appeal

Sending Robin Hood and the Chief Executive of Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust over a 100 ft precipice was a heart-stopping moment for me.

It happened on one of the most rain-drenched November days in years and as a seasoned abseiler I was tasked with coordinating the abseil which was to be down the side of Queens Medical Centre.

The purpose of the abseil was to unfurl a giant banner launching our Big Appeal for Nottingham Children’s Hospital, getting media attention and giving the appeal a jump-start to meet its £3 million target by 2019.

Seeing the rain lashing down I was sure I would be standing in for Robin, aka Tim Pollard and Trust CEO Peter Homa. But no, the plucky duowere more than game. They were clear that they had to see it through for the 60,000 children and their families who are supported by Nottingham Children’s Hospital each year.

The Big Appeal is focused on improving the lives and outcome for these children, who are battling cancer, kidney disease, brittle bones, respiratory and other illnesses. The Big Appeal is raising vital funds to enhance diagnostic equipment and promote research that are specifically focused on children, as well as brightening and enlivening their surroundings while they are in hospital. Importantly, The Big Appeal will also fund the enhancement of facilities for families to stay overnight to be near their child, taking away a small but important area of tremendous stress.

After the abseil was completed and media interviews done, we all joined the Nottingham Children’s Hospital Paediatric team and a range of play, therapy and other specialists for a special reception where one parent, Melanie, spoke very movingly about her family’s struggle after giving birth to her daughter Amaya very prematurely. Her words stuck in my mind:

“We were on neonatal for nineteen weeks and then on the Paediatric High Dependency Unit for six more weeks where Amaya had to be resuscitated and we almost lost her. The team helped support us as a family and we are now at a stage where we are hoping that Amaya might be home for Christmas.”

As we approach the festive season where there’s such a lot of focus on children enjoying Christmas there is no better opportunity for us to reflect on children who will be in hospital. The Big Appeal allows each and every one of us to appreciate the health and happiness our families have and give a little to make an awful lot of difference to those who aren’t so lucky.

You can find out more about The Big Appeal or make a donation here

smallicon Blog Post 6th October 2016 – Written by David Smith (Supporter & Fundraiser)

‘There are definitely upsides though – you don’t realise how liberating and refreshing it is to be out at the crack of dawn treading the streets; particularly during the summer months’

You don’t always appreciate what you have until it’s gone – or very nearly taken away from you.

Only a few months ago my dad was rushed in to the Queen’s Medical Centre with life threatening infection and Sepsis. He spent time under the constant attention of medical professionals in critical care.

I’d certainly never heard of Sepsis before, and certainly didn’t know it results in over 44,000 deaths each year – more than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined. So why don’t we know more about it?

I decided to run the Robin Hood Marathon to help raise money for Nottingham Hospitals – and support the patients and staff that tirelessly treat and care for them.  I also wanted to help raise awareness of Sepsis and help save more lives, so also chose to donate money raised to the UK Sepsis Trust.

Marathon training is gruelling and by the time I got round to it I had just 10 weeks left before the big day. Preparing for and then running 30, 40 or 50 miles a week really takes over your life and there’s little time to rest. But I stuck to my plan (thanks to a ‘10 week marathon training plan’ Google search).

There are definitely upsides though – you don’t realise how liberating and refreshing it is to be out at the crack of dawn treading the streets; particularly during the summer months. I’d recommend running to anyone who can. As well as the obvious physical benefits, it frees your endorphins, and helps your brain process and empty all the stresses and strains of the daily grind.

So it came to the big day and I was as ready as I could be. Running 26.2 miles is as tough mentally as it is physically but the crowds and your fellow runners really do help you through it. The second 13 miles were the toughest, with fewer supporters to cheer you on but the stewards and volunteers do their bit to encourage your legs to keep plodding.

The last 4 miles of the marathon were agonising and painful – legs were seizing up and aching which meant I had to walk and run intermittently. But I did it, in just over 4 hours. And thanks to everyone who has kindly donated I’ve currently raised £850 for such worthwhile causes.

As I’m writing this I’m also looking forward to going to see my dad and take him to dinner with his grandkids. The staff at Nottingham Hospitals saved his life – so I’m appreciating every day and minute I’m lucky enough to get with him.

You can still donate by visiting my page:

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter

smallicon Blog Post 8th September 2016 – Written by Ruth Brady (Fundraising Officer)

‘However, working for Nottingham Hospitals Charity for nearly two years has given me some hope. Hope that there are people in the world who are determined to make a12310043_10153936764778984_6266205005565268030_o positive and lasting difference’.

In just over a week’s time I will be sat on a plane to South Africa. I will have left my job, my friends and my family to embark on a brand new adventure…. I am terrified!

Whilst in South Africa I will be volunteering with an international charity called Tearfund and one of their partner charities called Zoe-Life. Zoe-life’s goal is ‘to transform options available to children, vulnerable families and communities that have been affected by disease, poverty and injustice’. With a mission statement like that you can imagine that Zoe-life have their work cut out!

All too often it can feel like we are living in a world which is full of hatred, cruelty and injustice. Turning the news on every day and seeing so many people’s lives and homes being destroyed by war or natural disasters can be so demoralizing that it is easy to bury our heads in the sand and do nothing. However, working for Nottingham Hospitals Charity for nearly two years has given me some hope. Hope that there are people in the world who are determined to make a positive and lasting difference.

Over the last two years I have taken part in some challenging fundraising events and met some incredible people. From a rope descent down Lincoln Cathedral to Dragon Boat Racing up the Trent and everything in between, there has rarely been a dull day in the charity office. Almost every day I have been lucky enough to speak to a fundraiser who has inspired me with their determination and desire to make a difference within their local hospitals. I have seen children who are receiving cancer treatment laughing and playing on their new, bright and colourful wards; dementia patients singing and dancing along to music following the results of Nottingham based research, and complimentary therapy giving peace to a patient receiving end-of-life care.

These projects are just a few of the vital programmes funded by Nottingham Hospitals Charity and they are changing people’s lives for the better. They are also projects which have been made possible because of the generosity of ordinary people. Ordinary people who have given up chocolate for a month, or who have challenged themselves to do a half marathon, or who have simply put £5 in a charity bucket. These small acts of kindness shown by the amazing people of Nottinghamshire may not make the evening news, but they are happening every single day and they are transforming lives and giving hope to people when they need it most.

It is not only monetary donations that gives people hope but also the gift of time. Most of us wish that there were more hours in the day. Weeks seem to fly by (it will soon be Christmas!) and we wonder where the years are going. So when people decide to give up an hour of their time to support Nottingham Hospitals Charity, we are always so grateful. I decided to volunteer out in South Africa because, at this time in my life, I have more time than I do money (sorry Mum, I know I should have been saving!) so I wanted to do something that would challenge me and also make a difference. If you feel that you would like to make a positive difference within Nottingham’s hospitals but are unable to support us financially, or just want to do something fun, then give us a call on 0115 962 7905 or email to find out more about our volunteering opportunities.

I am so proud to have been a part of Nottingham Hospitals Charity. I have met some amazing people and will really miss working alongside them every day. They have given me some fantastic memories (and hopefully some quite nice gifts come Friday!) but the most important thing I have learnt whilst working here is that, whether it be time or money, the act of giving changes people’s lives.  We may feel like we are too small to make a difference and that some things will never change but with determination, passion and a little bit of courage we can make a positive difference in our world.

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter

smallicon  Blog Post 2nd September 2016 – Written by Joanne Benbow (Fundraiser)

‘Working for Nottingham Hospitals Charity, it is incredible to see the lengths that NUH staff will go to for their hospitals’. 

Our fundraiser Joanne is still recovering from our Total Wipeout event which took place at the City Hospital Cricket Pitch on Wednesday 31st August. 

The sun shone. A crowd gathered. And inflatable obstacles took over the cricket field at City Hospital. It could only mean one thing – NUH Total Wipeout!

There aren’t many jobs that see you spending a Wednesday afternoon in August with a group of doctors, nurses, physios and other hospital staff (dressed as super-heroes, Minions, and brightly coloured tutus and wigs, to name just a few), getting ready to race, bounce, run and laugh their way around the Total Wipeout course. I count myself very lucky to witness – and participant in – fantastic events like these!

There were four giant inflatable obstacles to challenge our teams, modelled on the TV show. Perhaps the most recognisable obstacle, The Big Red Balls, challenged teams to run across as many times as they could in 5 minutes – more difficult than you would expect! There was the Wipeout Sweeper, with two rotating arms that span faster and faster, forcing contestants to either duck under or jump over, until it took their feet out from under them and knocked them off their perch. The Demolition Ball pitted teams against each other, with a swinging ball being thrown between the contestants in the attempt to knock their opponents off their feet. The Dash and Grab was reminiscent of the childhood favourite game, Hungry Hungry Hippos, except in this version contestants were attached to a bungee cord which pulled them back from the ball pit in the middle. The final inflatable was the giant obstacle course, which saw you ducking, jumping, dodging and finally climbing a giant slide, with a sprint finish to tag in your teammates. Teams took part in one final event, the ‘Tug of Wards’, which gave them the chance to snag a final few points before the winning teams were announced.

All the jumping, ducking, bouncing and racing was in the name of charity, of course. Twelve teams of six members of staff from all over the hospital chose to fundraise for their area of Nottingham’s hospitals, raising vital funds that could provide state-of-the-art medical equipment, enhance existing products and services, improve facilities, or fund staff training and development. Working for Nottingham Hospitals Charity, it is incredible to see the lengths that NUH staff will go to for their hospitals, and we are so grateful for the support of each and every staff member.

We managed to get some fantastic photos and videos of the event, which you can find on our Facebook page. Thank you to everyone who took part in, or sponsored those participating in the event – it all adds up to make a huge difference to Nottingham’s hospitals.
















Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter

smallicon Blog Post 9th August 2016- Written by Ivory Longley (Volunteer/Fundraiser)

Hayward House gave me a true sense of purpose – yes there was a future after all.

Volunteer Ivory Longley reflects on his time as a patient at Hayward House – he has since used his creative flair to raise £3,000 for the unit.

I sat in an armchair away from everyone else, just looking out of the window watching squirrels and a variety of birds gathered around a bird table. Diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, I felt that I was in a very dark place. Chemo days now behind me, the lumps had all gone, but there was a lot of mending to go through.

The first positive step was the talk with Sister Diane, she listened as I rambled on. She told me what was on offer at Hayward House for us patients – counselling, aromatherapy, foot and head massage, to name but a few. And doctors were on hand to see us if we didn’t feel well.

Coming out of my shell a little, I took up clay work, making pottery, small items and three vases, two of them nearly two feet tall! This made me feel less useless in that I could do some things in place of what I had lost through cancer.

Tea and coffee were on hand, given to us by really caring volunteers and staff. The nurses knew their jobs and were second to none in their caring of us.

In all, I was at Hayward House day care for nearly four years, and it was truly an honour to get involved with my fellow patients. The friends I made – I could have made no better elsewhere.

Hayward House gave me a true sense of purpose – yes there was a future after all.

Hayward House is a one off – a tree house in the jungle, a hut on a long sandy beach. For me, it was my haven, a place of laughter and tears, where doubts and worries were soothed.

Now, although I can’t work, or walk far, I make birthday cards and sell them for Hayward House – so far in two years I have raised more than £3,000. I’m happy to give back a little of what I have received.

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter

smalliconBlog Post 19th July 2016- Written by Clare Stevens (Communications Officer)

‘Music cuts through deep into the psyche. It transcends barriers of speech and language and crosses cultures to connect people.’

Usually I don’t dance before the 9 pm watershed, and not without having had a drink first!  I certainly never thought I’d be jigging around on a hospital ward at 10am. But the music provided by James Tollhurst on guitar and Marc Block on mandolin moved me, as did its visible effect on patients with dementia.

Nottingham Hospitals Charity funded Marc and James – collectively known as Wellspring CIC – to provide weekly music therapy for patients on specialist dementia Ward B47 at Queens Medical Centre. Accompanying them on their ward round recently I saw for myself how the songs brought a smile, and sometimes a tear, to the faces of people with this distressing condition.

Music cuts through deep into the psyche. It transcends barriers of speech and language and crosses cultures to connect people. I saw this happen on Ward B47. I saw music build connections with people who, due to their condition, are losing the ability to interact in other ways.

James and Marc bring with them a box on wheels containing percussion instruments and xylophones for patients to join in. They handed me an egg to shake as they launched into Bob Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’ and the lady in the bed next to us started to sing and jive along to the music. She told me she used to dance regularly at the Palais in Nottingham in her younger days.

James and Marc are both professional musicians, and Marc used to be a nurse. Their approach is very sensitive, respecting patients’ space and not imposing on people. They will play quietly near somebody’s bed and watch for signs of the person relating to the music. These might be as subtle as a slight change in facial expression or as obvious as singing along or moving to the music. Once they have a patient’s attention they will engage with them one-to-one, asking what kind of music they like, taking requests and encouraging the patient to join in on a xylophone or percussion instrument. They have an extensive repertoire, but if they don’t already know the patient’s request they will improvise, if necessary looking up the chords on their phones.

There is growing recognition that music, and other arts-based activities, are therapeutic for people with dementia. Recently, during Dementia Week, I listened to a feature on the Radio with the ‘Beast of Bolsover’ Dennis Skinner MP talking about his late mother who had dementia. He talked candidly about how he would sing to his mother and she would join in, remembering tunes and words to songs long after she had lost other memories.

His experience resonated with me on a personal level because I’m currently sharing caring responsibilities for an elderly aunt with Alzheimer’s. Songs and poetry are things that, as a family, help us to connect with her even though she has forgotten who we are.

There are plenty of studies and anecdotal evidence pointing to the health benefits of music.  I spoke to a Mental Health Occupational Therapist on the ward who regularly observes patients respond positively to the music.  It boosts mood, it can lift someone who is low, and soothe a person who is anxious.

My experience of being Wellspring groupie for a morning echoed that. Both patients and staff were visibly moved by the music.   I’m proud that we have funded this project which I’d say certainly strikes the right note with patients.

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter

smalliconBlog Post 7th July 2016- written by Craig Mankelow (Charity Supporter)

I want to raise some money for the unit so that they can continue to give a great service

In September I am running the Robin Hood Half Marathon for Nottingham Hospitals Charity because I want to support the City Hospital Neonatal Intensive  Care Unit (NICU).

In November 2015 my son Jude was born via C Section at 34 weeks gestation at the Nottingham City Hospital. After his birth Jude was taken to the NICUfor support to maintain his oxygen levels and body temperature. Jude received excellent care from all of the staff on the unit. Not only did they deliver a high standard of medical care, but they also made sure to take time to explain everything that was happening and provide us with emotional support at such a scary time for any parent. My wife was too unwell to visit Jude initially, but the staff on the NICU made sure she was given regular updates about his condition; including bringing her photographs of him during the night.

We were very lucky that Jude only had to spend 36 hours on the unit before he was well enough to join his mum on the ward. However, we did meet some families with much smaller, earlier babies who were spending weeks or even months on the NICU. I want to raise some money for the unit so that they can continue to give a great service to the babies and families they look after.

I know that money raised recently for the unit has helped fund refurbishment of the parents sitting room which is used by families who are staying in the Transitional Care Bedrooms, a new infant flow Sipap system which provides non-invasive ventilator support for babies, therapeutic positioning aids critical for the development of neonatal babies and three ‘cuddle cots’ for bereaved parents to say goodbye to their baby in their own time.

This will be the third time I have run the half marathon. I ran it in 2012 and 2013. So far training is going well – I’m running three times a week at the moment, gradually building up the distance each week.

If anyone would like to sponsor me, my fundraising page is at

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smallicon Blog Post 23rd June 2016- written by Joanne Benbow (Fundraiser)

Live music, family fun, and puppies on parade…it’s Carnival time!

One of the best parts of my job as a fundraiser is attending events all over Nottingham. I love meeting our supporters and talking to people all about the work that the charity does. From garden centres to WI meetings and everything in between, I have found myself in many different places and meeting all sorts of interesting people during the seven months that I have worked for Nottingham Hospitals Charity!

Last weekend was no exception to this trend. We were very happy to be invited to have a charity stand at the annual family favourite, the Arnold Carnival, held in Arnot Hill Park. There are few things more British than a summer fete and Arnold knows how to throw a great one. Even the great British summertime pulled through in time for the weekend, bringing pleasant warmth and even a hint of sunshine despite thunder storms and showers throughout the preceding week.

Many Carnival-goers spent the day relaxing in the park, enjoying the live music and entertainment on the main stage. Others enjoyed perusing the stalls in the large tent, with arts and crafts, beauty products, and of course homemade fudge – a personal favourite I was only too happy to sample. Local dance groups, artists, school bands and singers had the chance to entertain the people of Arnold throughout the day, with headliners THAT 80’s ROCK SHOW and tribute acts taking over the evenings.

I was lucky enough to have a perfect view from our stand of the Fun Dog Show, run by the Notts & Yorks Boxer Rescue Charity. From huskies to Chihuahuas and everything in between, local pups were judged in rounds including Loveliest Lady, Most Fabulous Fella, and even a game of Musical Sits.

For us, the Arnold Carnival kicked off sales of our Grand Prize Draw, which is running till October. We even borrowed a car from Sandicliffe to promote the event on the day, which parked next to our stand and certainly drew in the crowds! We were also selling mugs, pens and tote bags featuring Robin, the Children’s Hospital mascot, and holding a colouring competition, with the winning entry to be displayed in the Children’s Hospital.

There is a particular sense of community that comes along with hook-a-duck and fairground rides at a village fete. Attending these events always reminds me how lucky we are to have such fantastic support from the people of Nottingham. As a charity, we have such a wonderful community of fundraisers, corporate supporters, and generous donors, who come together to raise funds for us. And of course it is thanks to this support that we are able to give back to another community, embedded in the heart of Nottingham – our hospitals, and our local NHS.

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter


smallicon Blog Post 9th June 2016- written by Liz Charalambous (Nurse & PhD student)

‘I am often humbled and amazed at the wonderful work being done up and down the country by dedicated carers who provide an excellent standard of care every single day.’

‘Throughout my career I have enjoyed finding out about the patients I care for, their lives and what theyLiz Charalambous used to do for a living. However it can be very difficult when caring for a person with dementia because they can’t always remember these things and a questioning approach can be unhelpful and create anxiety. The ‘This is me’ form is a useful tool to record likes and dislikes and tells us important information, but having a family or friend present to chat about what our patients really value is even better. This is why I am a strong advocate of carer involvement and collaborative working. We can learn so much from carers who have worked out ingenious ways to help and support their loved ones.

I am often humbled and amazed at the wonderful work being done up and down the country by dedicated carers who provide an excellent standard of care every single day. I have often seen patients admitted to hospital wards immaculately well cared for by their families, despite being acutely ill, and as such I am immensely proud to celebrate carer’s week.

Having visiting times is simply unheard of now in paediatric care as it is widely recognised that children and families benefit from being together, especially when they are ill. Why shouldn’t we have the same service for our frail older patients who may find busy hospital wards a frightening place to be?

At NUH we have implemented a new carer’s passport funded by Nottingham Hospitals Charity, which invites carers around the clock to be involved without having to wait until the doors open, as was the case in the days of restricted visiting hours. This means that people with dementia and carers have choice and control at a critical time in their lives.

Initially some nurses felt it could interfere with the smooth running of the ward and were worried about the spread of infection if people had open access. However, in reality it has worked really well; with common sense precautions and intelligent, sensitive, and thoughtful management of the scheme it has been beneficial to patients, carers and staff. Relatives can pop in with a newspaper on their way to work, avoid peak travel times and the rush on hospital car parks by fitting in their caring responsibilities with other commitments. Some have reported that they have saved a small fortune by being able to use public transport instead of taking expensive taxis at inconvenient times to fit in with visiting hours. It also means that they can choose to come and help at mealtimes, or come in at bedtime if this helps to settle their loved one. Staff are proud that they are delivering the best possible personalised, family centred care to patients and it allows us to showcase our excellent services.

Carer’s week is an important occasion for us to celebrate and also an opportunity for us as a society, to thank carers for the unrecognised and very often unrewarded role they play in caring for our frail older citizens.’

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smallicon Blog Post 8th June 2016- written by Naomi Walters (Senior Community Fundraiser)

‘Say hello to Challenge 1000!’

Every year, staff at Nottingham’s hospitals not only provide excellent care, but many go the
extra mile by fundraising for Nottingham Hospitals Charity to further support their patients. Since starting at the Charity 2 years ago, it has been my job to support NUH staff with their fundraising, which has given me a great opportunity to meet people from all areas of our hospitals, learn about the different clinical roles, what happens on different wards, and learn my way around the hospital corridors!

We call our staff fundraising competition Challenge 500, each year asking wards to try and raise £500 or more for their patients, and presenting prizes to our top 3 fundraising wards at the end of each year.

In the most recent financial year our wards raised an amazing £73,000 through Challenge 500. Non-clinical staff raised a further £7,000, giving a very grand total of £80,637. This is a real testament to the hard-working, determined, fun, and simply brilliant staff at NUH which I have the privilege of working with every day. Having a busy job, it would be completely understandable if hospital staff wanted to forget about their work at the end of the day, but they instead go the extra mile to fundraise so they can improve care for their patients even further.

Challenge 500 has completely outgrown our initial goals thanks to NUH staff, so we’ve decided that next year’s competition will be bigger and better than ever. Say hello to Challenge 1000!

For the 2016/17 financial year, we are challenging NUH to raise £100,000 in total – a huge 25% more than has ever been raised before. But I know we can do it!

I know we can do it, because our thousands of trust staff form hundreds of brilliant ward teams, who together form one super team – Team NUH! Everyone in Team NUH is working hard to make our hospitals the best that they can be.

I’d love to name and thank all the amazing staff I’ve had the opportunity to work with – but this would be a very long blog! This year, I’ve been particularly inspired by the amazing staff on Toghill Ward, and in particular Sarah Hancox. A busy working mum, Sarah arranged one of the most successful staff fundraising events that I have been a part of – the Haematology Spring Ball. It may sound glamorous, but staff on the ward worked incredibly hard to pull the event off by designing and printing posters, sourcing a venue, using all their connections and persuasive skills to obtain free entertainment and raffle prizes, and tirelessly selling tickets for months on end! All this resulted in raising over £6,000 in total, and the ball was also a really lovely opportunity for staff and patients to socialise together and celebrate the haematology department as a whole.

In addition to charity balls, we’ve had staff skydive from thousands of feet, run marathons, cook curry lunches for their colleagues, bake delicious cakes, sit in haunted pubs overnight, get up at 6am for freezing cold car boot sales, and even shave their heads!

I can’t wait to hear what fundraising ideas NUH staff come up with for the first ever year of Challenge 1000. Already, I’ve heard about The Great NUH Bake Off which will take place on 30th June, (find out our celebrity judge and how to enter your medicine-themed cakes here), ambitions from a new cycler to take on the Three Cities Cycle Ride, and daring staff who plan to take part in our City Hospital Fire Walk.

So thank you to all our NUH staff for welcoming me into your teams to talk about and support you with fundraising – it is a real pleasure to see the pride that you take in your work. Thank you to every single individual who has helped to fundraise this year, whether you raised £10 at a cake sale, or thousands of pounds at a charity ball. Each of you makes a difference and has contributed to the £80,000 which was raised for your patients last year. We’ve got a big year ahead of us, but I know we can do it!

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter

smallicon Blog Post 27th May 2016- written by Alison Hayward (Charity Assistant)

‘The atmosphere was like nothing I’ve experienced before’

On the 15th May, along with over 2,000 runners, I took part in the Nottingham 10K to raise money for Nottingham Hospitals Charity.

The Nottingham 10k is the newest addition to Run For All’s popular Asda Foundation 10k Series, and takes in sights including Nottingham Castle, the Lace Market, and the River Trent. Beginning and ending in the historic Market Square, this is a race that truly lives and breathes what’s great about the city of Nottingham. It was a unique experience running around the city I grew up in and know so well with streets closed off to traffic.

I only started running in September, and the Nottingham 10K was only my second 10K race and my first race on this scale; the atmosphere was like nothing I’ve experienced before! The cheers of all the supporters in the Market Square and along the route were overwhelming and fantastic motivation to keep going no matter how tired we were from the hills and heat! Running down into the Market Square towards the finish line was an incredible feeling that I’ll never forget.

At Nottingham Hospitals Charity we are delighted to have been charity partners for the Nottingham 10k. As a local charity, it is great that a race so connected to the city should offer its runners the chance to fundraise for their local hospitals!

I was one of forty-five runners, running for Nottingham Hospitals Charity, and it was great to meet as many of them as possible before and after the race at our stand in Market Square. Our runners have raised more than £3,500 between them – thank you so much!

Fundraisers for Nottingham Hospitals Charity can choose to support whichever area of the hospitals is closest to their heart, right down to a specific ward. Nottingham Hospitals Charity provides the ‘added extras’ that really make a difference to patient care. From brightening up wards to providing additional services, funding staff training, and purchasing specialist medical equipment. All funds raised for Nottingham Hospitals Charity help to make time in hospital a little more positive for our patients. Thank you to each and every one of our runners for supporting the area of the Nottingham’s hospitals that is closest to their heart

Each of our fundraisers has their own personal reason for supporting Nottingham’s hospitals.  Jeff Coulson had set himself a challenge of running 500 miles in 2016, with the Nottingham 10k making up 6 of those miles. He has already raised an incredible £764.61 for the Neonatal Unit at Queen’s Medical Centre, who he chose to support after his son, Oscar, was born on the unit.

For me it was a chance to thank the hospital for the care my friends and family receive, especially as this November will be 10 years since my Dad had a triple bypass at the Trent Cardiac Centre.

It truly was a wonderful experience to be a part of such a fantastic event. Thank you to Run For All for planning and executing a brilliant day! Planning was smooth and the atmosphere was great on the day with so many runners in Market Square. We were really grateful to be charity partners, and we already can’t wait for next year. I certainly will be running the Nottingham 10K again!

Entries for the Nottingham 10k 2017 will be opening soon – if you are interested in running for Nottingham Hospitals Charity, please call 0115 962 7905 or email for more details. We will also need friendly and enthusiastic volunteers to help make 2017’s race as successful as this year – get in touch if you would like to help cheer, marshal, or man a fundraising stand for us!

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter

smalliconBlog Post 9th May 2016 – written by Ruth Brady (Fundraising Officer)  Ruth

‘Dying Matters’ – as scary as it sounds, we are all going to die so it is something that we do need to think about

This week is Dying Matters Awareness Week. Working for a hospital charity, death is something which I come across on a fairly regular basis. Along with birth, it is also the one thing that we all have in common and should bring us together. Instead, it seems to be an increasingly taboo subject that we seem to want to run away from rather than face head on.

Earlier this year, my family faced death head on when we lost my wonderful Grandad, Arthur. He is the first close family member I have lost and I am still not quite sure how I feel about his death. He had been suffering from Dementia for a while so in some ways, the Grandad I had known and grown up with, had already gone. However, I still find myself almost forgetting that he has died until something – a photograph, a memory, a saying – suddenly reminds me that the man who’d taught me how to ride a bike and played UNO with me for hours, is no longer here.

Admitting that I sometimes ‘forget’ my Grandad has died immediately makes me feel extremely guilty. But then I remember – the reason I forget he is no longer here is because his memory and presence is so ingrained in my life, and that of my families. When I say I have ‘forgotten’ he has passed away, it is not because I have forgotten all about him, it is because he is still such a huge part of my life – and always will be.

I firmly believe that those we love are never gone but live on in our hearts and memories and also through the lives of the people they have touched. And I think this is the reason why, each year, we hear from hundreds of fundraisers who have decided to raise money for the Charity in memory of a loved one. Every time I speak to a fundraiser who is raising money in memory of someone who has recently passed away, I am amazed by their courage, strength and hope. Losing someone you love is painful and confusing, yet the ability to practically take on a challenge and raise money to celebrate a loved one’s life, seems to galvanise and encourage families during their grief. The fact that the money raised will then go directly to the area where a loved one was treated or felt passionate about, also offers some comfort during those darkest hours.

Coming to terms with the death of the loved one is extremely difficult. Coming to terms with our own inevitable death is near impossible! On the Dying Matters website ( it states there needs to be ‘a fundamental change in society in which dying, death and bereavement will be seen and accepted as the natural part of everybody’s life cycle.’ As scary as it sounds, we are all going to die so it is something that we do need to think about. Over the last two years the Charity has received over £2million in legacies – gifts left to the Charity in an individual’s Will. These are truly moving and incredible gifts which make a dramatic difference to the lives of our patients and staff across the length and breadth of our hospitals. The donor may not be with us any longer but their generosity, kindness and compassion lives on through the work their legacy has enabled.

I hope that during Dying Matters Awareness week, we are able to talk openly and honestly about death and all that it brings. I also hope that this discussion does not just finish once the week is over but continues to grow and becomes something that we can talk about with ease and confidence. Donations made to Nottingham Hospitals Charity in memory of a loved one or through a gift left in a Will, should not be viewed as a morbid or taboo issue, but instead as something which gives life and a hope for the future.

My Grandad’s funeral was a wonderful celebration of a life well lived and of a man well loved. He had touched the lives of so many people – friends and relatives I hardly knew. They spoke about him with such love, remembering his gentleness, thoughtfulness and good humour and it made me realise that it is the love we show towards others which really matters in the end. That is the one thing that can never die.

If you would like to fundraise in memory of a loved one or would like to leave a legacy to Nottingham Hospitals Charity, please to not hesitate to get in touch. You can contact the Charity on 0115 962 7905 or email Or head to our website:

In Memory Giving:

Leave a gift in your Will:

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smalliconBlog Post 27th April 2016 – written by Amanda Craike (Communications Manager)

Drumming with Spiderman on the Trent – only in Nottingham!Amanda with Robin identity

T’was a chilly April morning in Nottingham and rather than snoozing my alarm clock a little longer, as is customary on Saturday mornings, I knew I had somewhere to be. For I had heard the call of the Dragon Boat drum!

I pulled my quick-dry leggings on and finished layering four tops to keep me warm. Having seen the weather forecast for snow in London on the day of the marathon, I suspected that Nottingham, and more importantly the River Trent, would be bracing. I wasn’t about to be beaten by the English weather on St George’s Day though!

Lured by the smell of freshly cooked bacon from the boathouse, I took the short walk over Trent Bridge and down to the river bank where I had previously commended countless Lycra-clad rowing teams, as I travelled home over the bridge in the comfort of my warm car. Today was different though, for today I would be joining them… well sort of…  I would be part of the Nottingham Hospitals Charity team for our Dragon Boat race.

For anyone unfamiliar with a Dragon Boat race, it is essentially elongated rowing boats of about 20 people dressed as vibrantly as possible rowing with all their might to be crowned ‘Dragon Boat champions’. Given that I work for Nottingham Hospitals Charity I have been known to take part in a few of their wacky challenges, most daring of those was the Lincoln Cathedral Rope Descent which was terrifying but also exhilarating. If you haven’t tried it then keep an eye out for details, as another one is in the pipeline.

Standing on the river bank of the Trent at 9am feeling pretty chilly and realising I probably needed a few more layers to be truly toastie given the April wind, I was starting to doubt myself. That was until I started to see superheroes and cartoon characters arrive to take part, closely followed by Noah and his ark of animals (who arrived by two by two – of course). The colourful, wild and wacky costumes made me realise this was going to be an unusual and fun way to spend a Saturday morning.

As our team of keen rowers assembled we were each assigned a task. I was on the list as the drummer and soon realised this was going to be my new role for the day. As the nominated drummer (not as easy as some of my team would have you believe), I had to balance on a very small stool on deck of one end of the boat. This was a true test of core strength, especially when everyone started to pile in and the boat rocked from one side to the other with some ferocity. On top of balancing on my stool, I also had to keep a rhythm. Now, no-one questioned my rhythm when I was nominated so this could have gone awfully wrong before we even started. Luckily though I have a bit of musical experience, so I hoped this might see me through.

“It all hinges on the drummer” one of my teammates muttered with a wink as they boarded the boat and suddenly I felt the pressure of responsibility for my team. How would I face the shame if the Charity team did badly because the drummer was so terrible?! The one advantage of being on the boat rather than in it, is that I didn’t get wet. The same can’t be said for my team mates, some of whom had had the foresight to wear waterproofs which worked really well.

As I began drumming and counting one (boom), two (boom), one (boom), two (boom) I realised this was going to be relatively easy, and as we set off it was clear that the boat was sturdier than I had given it credit. I realised that I didn’t need to cling onto the drum until my knuckles went white and there are worse ways to spend a Saturday than banging a loud drum sailing up and down the River Trent.

After a few heats in which we didn’t come last (somehow) I have to say that on the whole the day was thoroughly enjoyable and it was a pleasure to see so much support from NUH colleagues raising money for their departments, as well as some of our corporate partners helping us to raise valuable funds for patients.

If reading this has made you fancy taking part next year then do give it a go, it’s a fun way to spend a Saturday and all for a great cause. Just don’t think that being the drummer is the easiest option – or at least don’t tell my colleagues that!

Now…for the next challenge I think.

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smalliconBlog Post 1st April 2016 – written by Nick Lawford (Fundraising Manager)


We are all motivated to support charity for different reasons.  Often a combination of factors will lead to us choosing to give to a charitable cause.  It could be the urgency or horror of an international crisis, an ongoing commitment to a charity we really care about, one of our friends choosing to run a stupid distance or do something ridiculous, or even because we feel sorry for the cheerful but freezing-looking fundraiser stood with a bucket outside the supermarket.  Passion, guilt, gratitude, fear, encouragement, hope, grief, emotional connection…they all play their part.

When I’m working with local businesses raising money for Nottingham Hospitals Charity, one motivation that I see, time and time again, is team spirit.  It never fails to inspire me, the ways in which some people choose to show their support and friendship for colleagues, by getting charitable.

Last year, for instance, I was lucky enough to work with Pendragon, the UK’s largest motor dealer, whose head office is just outside Nottingham.  Pendragon has over 200 dealerships all over the UK, and is a big supporter of the local communities in which it operates – every year raising thousands of pounds for charities chosen by its staff.

The big focus for the year is Pendragon’s annual Charity Challenge, which takes place over one day in August, with all of the dealerships and offices getting involved with activities to raise money for one particular charity.  Like many companies, the choice of charity partner is made by a staff vote.

Last year, the winning charity was Nottingham Hospitals Charity, and specifically our Hayward House appeal.  This choice was down to one very special lady, and to the team spirit, support and love shown by her colleagues.

Arlene is a Warranty Administrator, based at Pendragon’s head office.  In 2014, Arlene’s husband Kevin was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  He spent the last few days of his life being treated at Hayward House, the palliative care unit on the grounds of City Hospital, Nottingham.

Arlene was so passionate about the care that had been given to Kevin, as well as to her and her family and other families like them, she knew exactly which charity she wanted to support when the time came to choose for the 2015 Charity Challenge.  And when colleagues heard more, the votes for Hayward House started pouring in.  Yes, the staff of Pendragon wanted to support an excellent local charity giving support to people at the most difficult time of their lives, but they also wanted to support their colleague and friend, Arlene.

Staff at car showrooms from Edinburgh to Plymouth took part: baking cakes, dressing up (I learnt that Pendragon people LOVE to dress up!), washing cars, waxing legs, putting managers in the stocks, cycling miles on exercise bikes, holding raffles, barbecues, limbo competitions…having fun and raising a huge amount of money for Hayward House – over £18,000 in total.

I know the positive impact that this money will have at Hayward House – helping to fund massage and aromatherapy for patients receiving end of life care, arts and craft activities for day care patients, improvements to facilities, and additional counselling and nursing support.  But I also saw what a positive impact it had on Arlene, and how important it was for her – to see her colleagues making such an effort to raise money for Hayward House for her, and in memory of her husband.

The cheque presentation I did with Arlene and her colleagues (watched and cheered on by scores more staff at Pendragon’s head office) was one of the most emotional I have ever done.  It was clear how much this meant.

Pendragon is not the only company whose motivation to support Nottingham Hospitals Charity is about team spirit, though – far from it.  It’s something I am heartened to see happening in businesses of all shapes and sizes, again and again.

Nottingham City Transport, for instance, recently chose to make a donation of £500 to our Tiny Babies Appeal, supporting Nottingham’s Neonatal Units, in recognition of the care given to one driver’s daughter whose premature baby tragically passed away.

Another company raising money for Hayward House last year was the Langley Mill-based weighing scales supplier, County Scales, whose team united behind a member of staff whose wife had spent her final days being cared for there.  They collected items to sell at a car boot sale, raising more than £700 for Hayward House, and showing vital support for their colleague.

For the last two years, Lincoln-based aviation experts Inzpire Ltd have generously made a donation to Nottingham Hospitals Charity for every staff survey that has been filled in.  This has generated nearly £5,000 for the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at QMC, after the daughter of a member of staff was cared for so wonderfully there.  Tragically the little girl lost her life in 2014.  The ongoing support provided by her father’s employer, and by his colleagues, in recognition of the care given to “one of their own” is phenomenal, and must prove to be a huge source of comfort to him and his family.

When something terrible happens, you need support from people around you – be that family, friends, neighbours or work colleagues.  It’s inspiring to see close-knit staff teams at companies locally doing what they can not only to raise money to fund improvements to facilities, new equipment, additional services and vital medical research at Nottingham’s hospitals, but also to show their commitment to their colleagues, and their all-important team spirit.

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter

smalliconBlog Post 21st March 2016 – written by Louise Scull (Chair of Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust)

10 years, £30million & a wonderful partnership

 In my final blog for this financial year, I’d like to take the opportunity to say a big “Thank You” to our colleagues and partners at the Nottingham Hospitals Charity for their support, generosity and
exceptional fundraising over the last decade.

The Nottingham Hospitals Charity has raised an incredible £30million since it was formed in 2006 (the same year NUH was formed with the coming together of QMC and City Hospital). This is more than £8,000 raised every single day, seven days a week for the last 10 years. What an amazing success story!

We are very fortunate to have the support of the Nottingham Hospitals Charity. The Trust and the Charity work closely together to enhance patient and staff experience by developing and implementing schemes that the NHS wouldn’t otherwise be able to fund, such are the financial pressures.  On behalf of the Trust Board, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the hard working staff and trustees of the Charity for all their support.

From multi-million pound fundraising campaigns (such as the helipad appeal and new children’s cancer and neurosurgery wards at QMC and the new Cystic Fibrosis Centre at City) to smaller schemes, such as funding Just Do Its, the Charity makes such a big difference, often more than I think they or their donors realise.

The Charity make people feel better – whether it’s funding Giggle Doctors to help put young patients at ease when having treatment in our Nottingham Children’s Hospital or providing complementary therapies for patients at Hayward House.

Just this week, as we celebrate our ‘Good’ CQC rating, the Charity funded cakes for our wards and departments for staff and patients to enjoy, as a token of their appreciation. They also fund the cakes we distribute across our wards and in the community when we celebrate International Nurses’ Day and International Day of the Midwife in May.

Nursing and Midwifery, highlighted for particular praise in the CQC report,  would not be where it is today without the Charity’s input, which has seen several millions of pounds of charitable investment in nursing development, new posts (including advanced nurse practitioners and a domestic violence nurse) and more recently a commitment to supporting our roll-out of Shared Governance  and our journey towards Magnet Status (an internationally recognised symbol of nursing excellence).

From CT scanners and research grants to bedside chairs and fold-out beds that allow patients to stay overnight with their children, the Charity have done it all. It is fair to say, the Charity have touched most parts of our hospitals in some way, making patients feel better and staff feel appreciated. This year will mark 10 years of the Charity’s support of our annual NUHonours Awards, one of the many ways we say ‘Thank You’ to our staff.

Just a few weeks ago, the Charity launched a wonderful video explaining who they are, what they do and how you can get involved.  It’s a “must watch” if you haven’t already seen it:

Mary’s Journey.

Nottingham University Hospitals and Nottingham Hospitals Charity have achieved so much together over the last 10 years, and I look forward to our relationship going from strength to strength over the decade to come.

We encourage our staff to promote the Charity wherever possible (and appropriate) and remind colleagues that the Charity supports all areas of the hospitals. If you are interested in finding out more please visit: For fundraising support, please call 0115 962790.

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter

smalliconBlog Post 11th March 2016 – written by Barbara Cathcart (Chief Executive)

Hospitals don’t just happen…

I had never set foot inside a hospital prior to the birth of my first child but when I did, I emerged as not just a new mother, but as a person with an entirely new perspective on the world. Overwhelmed by the microcosm of life that lives inside the walls of wards and corridors, I have not looked back since.

Fast forward many years, a change of country later and the installation in my job as chief executive of Nottingham Hospitals Charity and I continue to be amazed by the life that goes on here, from births through to what befalls us all – dying, and everything in between. Our hospitals see and do it all.

Hospitals don’t just happen, though. They need to be governed, managed, monitored; they need to provide clinical expertise, the latest in drugs and surgery; they need to offer warmth, nutrition and security; they need to be safe. Sometimes hospitals have to take on the role of family for those who lack the support or resources to look after them when they are most vulnerable, especially the old.

The idea that mere mortals have to make these organisations work, under financial restraints and within regulatory pressures, is astonishing. The idea that 60 inspectors arrive in buses and scrutinise all the activities that take place over a course of four days, including unannounced visits, is quite simply – terrifying. Yet every NHS trust in the country is subject to this level of scrutiny by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).  Some do better than others.

This week, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust received the results of a CQC inspection that took place last September and out of four categories, it was deemed to be overall ‘good’, and ‘outstanding’ in certain areas. This level makes our hospitals one of the top five trusts in the UK, which deserves hearty congratulations to all the hard-working staff who helped make this happen. But it doesn’t stop there.

Our donors played their own role in contributing to this success because Nottingham Hospitals Charity supported many of the independently, CQC-identified areas of ‘outstanding’ practice with £1.4 million. Of course the hospitals received merit in their own right, enabling the Charity to build on what was already good through strategic use of its funds, in order to create significant impact.

Just like the hospitals themselves, the Charity supports every area of a person’s life, including the sad and increasing condition, dementia. Last summer, the Charity commissioned an on-site arts intervention programme. For a full week, patients with dementia engaged in a variety of diversions, including drawing, model-making, handling shells, singing sea shanties, and listening to waves, among other activities. This all took place in a standard day room that had been transformed into a seascape and was delivered by professional artists; all based on a Nottingham Contemporary exhibition. It was a pleasure to read that the CQC praised these activities for helping patients to reminisce about their childhood experiences by the seaside.

The Charity has also supported dementia care by funding four specialist Advanced Nurse Practitioners and a PhD research fellow to conduct a study into dementia care.

I certainly wish that the ‘Pocket Midwife’ had been available to me – long before ‘app’ was a noun. This award-winning app, funded by the Charity, is thought to be the only maternity app in the UK produced by a hospital, contains general pregnancy information useful to all prospective parents and their families, and was developed with feedback from pregnant women.

Young people are mentioned as benefiting from the Injury Minimisation Programme for Schools, which teaches first aid and resuscitation skills to children aged 10 and 11 by having them visit the Emergency Department. The programme has been running for 15 years and taught its 40,000th child in 2015.

Two further areas of significant impact that the Charity supports, also recognised by the CQC, are staff development and shared governance. The latter is a management style that empowers nurses and frontline staff to collaborate without feeling impeded by top-down bureaucracy, in order to maximise their influence for patient wellbeing.

All in all, the CQC has been an amazing achievement for the hospitals and as the Charity’s chief executive, I must praise the efforts of all our supporters: fundraisers, companies, bakers, runners and jumpers; and everyone else – who have helped to ensure that our Nottingham hospitals are among the best in the country.

It is a source of great pride and excitement that the Charity is in its tenth year of enhancing care at such a successful NHS trust. We are keen to continue to raise ever more funds into the future, to support all those who need our care in Nottingham – a great place to be.

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter

smalliconBlog Post 26th February 2016 – written by Nigel Gregory (Director of Development)

Let’s start at the very beginning…

Starting a new job can be an overwhelming experience. Everything from induction meetings, to learning where the tea is made, where to park and how to set up your computer can all be challenging enough to focus the mind in the first few weeks.

Since starting as the new Director of Development at the Charity I have been made to feel very welcome though and I have met an incredible team all dedicated to one single cause, improving the lives of patients at Nottingham’s hospitals.

The Charity team is having to cope with having a cycle commuter (me) in their midst, I have filled up the fridge, am constantly hungry and generally freezing from the ride in these crisp clear mornings.

I have now seen first-hand the impact this local charity has across a vast range of services, research, innovation, facilities development and patient care and it really is all made possible thanks to donors.

At the recent launch of the new Children’s Hospital identity I was introduced to the great work we support at the Children’s Hospital, raising over £4m in the last few years to support redevelopment of the children’s cancer and neuroscience wards, research into children’s cancer and establishing much needed youth support services.

At Hayward House, which looks after people with life-limiting illness, thanks to our donors, millions of pounds have been raised to provide a whole new complimentary therapy wing and a new kitchen hub for patients and families to gather. Much of the interior has also been redeveloped to support counselling, private family time, and consultation services, which is making a massive difference to patients and their families at the most vulnerable and challenging time of their lives.

And I continually see reminders across the hospital of support our donors have given to our nursing staff  – surely one of the most important resources in the entire NHS.

The other two key areas I have seen are our research and support for dementia and cancer. These remain two of the biggest issues facing patients and the NHS. So looking at how we can support ground breaking research, enhance the patient experience and redevelop our facilities is absolutely vital.

So when I say starting with Nottingham Hospitals Charity has been ‘overwhelming’ I really do mean it. Cancer, dementia and other conditions are major issues facing Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and the NHS that will obviously have a knock-on effect for the Charity. However it highlights to me the need for a Charity which looks after NUH patients and is able to keep donations local, and in any area of choice.

As I have learnt in these first few weeks we have some incredibly loyal and grateful donors who really want to say thank you for the care they have received, we also have hundreds of families anxious and excited to do what they can to support their loved ones and the nurses and doctors helping them. We have a dedicated corporate community willing to show how much they care about the important lifesaving work that is carried out daily in their local hospital and we also have many donors wanting to help our doctors find new ways to treat those living with life-limiting conditions

I want to ensure that we not only continue to support the hospitals and Ropewalk House in the many ways we do, but that we really raise our game. To re-double our efforts in community fundraising, engage our donors in the work they support and launch a grateful patients programme to give patients the chance to show their hospital how much they value their care.

It’s been a whistle-stop tour of the hospitals and the Charity’s work so far but these are two high performing organisations with an inspirational tale to tell and I look forward to being part of the story.

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter

smallicon Blog Post 29th January 2016 – written by Nick Lawford (Fundraising Manager)

Do you know that Nottingham has its own Children’s Hospital? 

Before I started working at Nottingham Hospitals Charity last year, I didn’t – not really.  I knew that somewhere within our vast hospitals there would have been nurses and doctors caring for sick children, but I’d never thought about it as having its own identity, and I’d been fortunate enough never to have had to visit it.

I didn’t know that staff at Nottingham Children’s Hospital care for more than 40,000 young people every year – young people who come from all over the region, and sometimes beyond, to access the expertise and first class care that is found in Nottingham.

I didn’t know that Nottingham Children’s Hospital provides the only unit in the East Midlands for neuro-diagnostics and neuro surgery.

I didn’t know that Nottingham Children’s Hospital is the specialist centre for renal services for the East Midlands, East of England and South Yorkshire (a HUGE area!).

I didn’t know that Nottingham Children’s Hospital is one of the only children’s hospital in the country to offer complementary therapy treatments like aromatherapy and massage to all its patients.

And I didn’t know that, in the same way that I have been happy to throw coins into buckets held by fundraisers for Great Ormond Street in the past, I could make a charitable donation to support young patients being treated right here at Nottingham Children’s Hospital.

I learn amazing things about our amazing hospitals every day in this role, and I love to meet the incredible NHS staff who make such a difference to patients.  Maybe it’s all of the bright colours of the Children’s Hospital, maybe it’s the race track on the floor, or maybe it’s the massage chair, but visits are always particularly special, especially when accompanied by the people who help to fund these incredible features.

In my role as a corporate fundraiser I started 2016 off by visiting ward E17 with Fiona Hornsby and Alex Sargent from the Eastwood-based company Birchwood Price Tools – we had a photo taken with Nursery Nurse Charlotte Evans, a pile of toys and a giant cheque for £11,037.  The staff at Birchwood Price Tools made a massive effort throughout 2015 – they held auctions, raffles, dress down days, bake sales etc. and they raised a phenomenal amount of money for Nottingham Children’s Hospital.  Fiona and Alex were really pleased to see where the money their team have raised will go.  They were delighted to find out more about how charitable donations help to transform facilities at the Children’s Hospital, how they fund important services like complementary therapy and the youth club, support staff posts and pay for new pieces of equipment.

Birchwood Price Tools aren’t alone.  In the last few weeks I’ve been lucky enough to take part in a bucket collection at the Theatre Royal (raising £1,326 for the Children’s Hospital); collect a cheque for £1,391 from Hart’s Restaurant (raised by diners donating an extra pound to their bill during November and December); meet representatives from the company Inzpire Ltd in Lincoln who generously donated £2,920 to the Paediatric Critical Care Unit; and even write to thank the one and only Carl Froch who generously donated his fee from the Storage Hunters UK Christmas Special (I still haven’t seen it, but I’ve been told it was AWESOME) to the Children’s Cancer Wards.

Nottingham Children’s Hospital may have begun its life in a converted house in 1869, but these days it operates like the bright, beating heart of the Queen’s Medical Centre.  It’s an incredible place.  And with the support of passionate and enthusiastic fundraisers, enlightened corporate partners and generous donors we can provide the extra touches that help to make all the difference.  We need to raise at least £300,000 a year to continue what we’re doing.  But we don’t want to just continue what we’re doing, we want to do more.

Nottingham doesn’t just have its own Children’s Hospital; it has a Children’s Hospital to be proud of, backed by a Charity – and by fundraisers and donors – who really care.

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter

smallicon Blog Post 15th January 2016

Overcoming a fear of heights and other highlights… Written by Barbara Cathcart (Chief Executive)

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our supporters for all their help in 2015 and to extend my very best wishes to you all for 2016.

Last year was great thanks to you – our donors, fundraisers, and volunteers; you made it possible to enhance patient care in a variety of exciting and exceptional ways. These cover a range of areas, from providing specialist nursing support through to complementary therapies, counselling services, the installation of non-NHS funded equipment, offering development opportunities for staff, an investment in local research. All of the projects the Charity has contributed to have helped improve care for patients and served to reinforce Nottingham’s commitment and reputation for excellence.

Nothing seemed to be too strenuous or scary for our supporters, including the brave souls who abseiled from the roof of Lincoln Cathedral in August 2015 – many, for the benefit of our helipad for the East Midlands Major Trauma Centre. Although I wasn’t able to attend the big abseil event, I was thrilled to know that members of our own Charity team overcame their fear of heights for patients and I heard the tale of our communications manager hugging the ground staff in relief as her feet hit the floor of the magnificent cathedral! It never fails to amaze me the lengths that our supporters will go to help patients in Nottingham.

More than £13,000 was raised from just this one event, contributing to more than £1.7 million towards our much needed helipad for the East Midlands Major Trauma Centre at QMC, which will help to save lives!

This event was so successful that we’re planning to do another this year, so look out for more information about this later in the year. I’m tempted to have a go myself this year!

2016 is special for both the Charity and the Trust, marking both organisations’ tenth anniversary. It is apt that we celebrate at the same time, as we continue to work closely together to improve services for patients at the hospitals and Ropewalk House. I am so proud to have been personally involved in setting up  the Charity all those years ago and have had the great pleasure to watch the Charity and its much-valued supporters grow over that time. It has also been remarkable to share in colleagues’ success in developing their potential, all while benefiting patients.

Collectively, we have achieved so much. A few examples that stand out are: the Wolfson family and many supporters raised over £2 million to establish the Wolfson Cystic Fibrosis Centre; you  transformed the way care is delivered to older people through support in elective care surgery; Nottingham developed a national reputation for its care of dementia patients; the Pocket Midwife app was developed to help pregnant women spend more time with midwives;  thousands of staff attended specialist development opportunities, enhancing their knowledge and confidence to change how they provide care. Everything that you do for our Charity has a direct positive impact on patient care.

We are lucky in Nottingham to have such a devoted community of staff and supporters and we look forward to having fun with you – raising money for Nottingham’s patients – all throughout 2016 and beyond.

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter

smalliconBlog Post 18th December 2015

Radiant reindeers, flashing Christmas puddings and glowing polar bears... written by Nick Lawford (Fundraising Manager)

The long, winter nights mean that my current walk home from work is in darkness.  Over the last few weeks though, I’ve enjoyed seeing more and more lights going up in and on people’s houses and businesses.  The sparkle of a fairy light here, a flashing Santa there, the huge twinkling Christmas tree that greets me as I reach the brow of the hill… whether for religious beliefs or just because you want to light up your home so that Father Christmas doesn’t miss you, decorative lights are an important part of the winter months.

They’re important to us as fundraisers, too.  The Nottingham Hospitals Charity Lights to Celebrate campaign gives individuals the opportunity to dedicate a light on the Christmas trees at Queen’s Medical Centre or at City Hospital, to celebrate a loved one.  Hundreds of people have chosen to shine a light for someone special at the hospitals this winter.  They could be remembering someone who is sadly no longer with us, or offering a beacon of hope for a brighter future for family members and friends who are suffering ill health.

We have been so touched by the donations and dedications we have received in response to the Lights to Celebrate campaign this year.  One grateful patient, David Limb, even dedicated a light to his (un-named) organ donor, whose selfless gift has transformed his life.

Lights are not only a symbol of celebration, hope and remembrance; they can also help to raise vital funds to support patients in our hospitals now.  Take the incredible Swift family in Nuthall, Nottingham, for instance. As Christmassy as chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and as Nottingham as mushy peas and mint sauce at Goose Fair, the Swift’s home has, over the years, become a true Nottingham Christmas institution.

The family’s house (aka the Nuthall Lights) truly needs to be seen to be believed.  I’m not talking about a few twinkling fairy lights and a flashing snowman – oh no.  The Swifts don’t just go to town on their Christmas lights, they wrap the town up in flashing neon and put a big shining star on top. It’s not only a festive focus for the local community – hundreds of residents turned up for the big switch-on at the end of November and many more will visit it over the Christmas period – it’s also a fantastic fundraising event.

Over the years, the Swifts have raised thousands of pounds for Hayward House – the palliative care centre on theNuthall grounds of City Hospital – by collecting donations from visitors.  They also raise vital funds for the children’s charity When You Wish Upon A Star.  This year the family have already raised more than £6,000 for the two charities.

There are radiant reindeers, fluorescent trees, flashing Christmas puddings, glowing polar bears…there’s an igloo, a frozen pond, Santa’s grotto and his sleigh.  Indeed, every Friday and Saturday night the big man himself visits Nuthall, much to the delight of the hundreds of young people who line up to meet him.

When I met the Swift family in October I was struck not only by what a mammoth operation it is – to ensure that they don’t overload their domestic electricity supply they use torches inside their house during the Christmas period! – but by the amazing generosity of the family.  They are entirely self-funded – the electricity, the lights, the goody bags for children, the igloo, the sleigh, they provide it all (with a little help from Santa, of course!), for the benefit of the local community and the two charities.  It is incredible, and Nottingham is lucky to have them.

The Nuthall Lights will continue to shine (and Santa will continue to visit) until early January, so if you are in Nottingham make sure you don’t miss it.

On behalf of everyone at Nottingham Hospitals Charity, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank each and every fundraiser and donor who has so generously given their time, energy, enthusiasm and money this year in support of patient care at Nottingham’s hospitals.  Your gifts make such a huge difference – indeed you make time spent in hospital brighter for patients.  We wish you a very happy Christmas and new year.

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter


smallicon Blog Post 11th December 2015

We islanders are a hardy breed and know how to smile in the face of adversity... written by Ruth Brady (Community Fundraiser)

Can you truly say you are British if you have never sat on a beach in the pouring rain, fish and chips in one hand, umbrella in the other, firmly telling yourself that the category 5 storm will soon ‘blow over’? Keep Calm and Carry On wasn’t just designed to get us through World War 2 but also through our often cold, wet, windy and downright horrible weather! But we islanders are a hardy breed and know how to smile in the face of adversity – which we certainly did with style these past two weekends at Wollaton Park’s Great Christmas Show.

The Great Christmas Show saw the coming together of festive food, drink and craft stalls, along with many fantastic school choirs to celebrate the wonderful Christmas season. As a charity, we were honoured that the organisers chose to support our Children’s Hospital. So armed with Christmas decorations, games, Christmas socks, ‘brussels sprout’ popcorn and more teddies than you would find in Hamleys, we headed down to Wollaton Park.

Now, the weather we have been experiencing these past few weeks can hardly be called cold. For December is has been positively balmy and I am sure I have seen a few confused bees buzzing around! However, these past few weekends, the gale-force winds seemed to have been out to test the people of Nottingham. At some points during the weekends (when the wind was howling, the marquee dangerously rocking and the trees creaking) I would not have been surprised if I had suddenly seen a deer swept up by the wind like that poor cow in the film Twister!

Understandably, some people were put off by the mud, icy rain and 40mph wind.  However, the majority did Nottingham proud and turned up to Wollaton wrapped up in their rain coats and wellies, ready to cheer on the choirs, drink mulled wine, sample the cheese and have a go on our lucky dip. The tasty sausage samples, delicious cakes and Elsa from Frozen could not fail to put a smile on the face of even the most wind-swept of customers. So despite being nearly blown away, all of us certainly enjoyed the two weekends. We got to meet some fantastic people and as always, were overwhelmed and encouraged by people’s support of the charity and their local hospitals.

The unpredictable and often rainy nature of the British weather has practically imbedded itself into our culture, along with the Queen and a good cup of tea. However, whilst we love to moan about the weather, we know that there are people in Cumbria and other parts of the country, whose Christmas’ have been ruined by the effects of the last week’s storms.

As a charity, we also know that whilst we are looking forward to carrying on the festivities of the past two weekends (eating far too much turkey, drinking a bit too much wine and watching Julie Andrews dance around the hills of Austria), many of the people we see at work every day will not be at home for Christmas. The organisers of the Great Christmas Show chose to support our young patients who will be opening their Christmas presents in a hospital bed rather than their own. It was for those children, that we, and the people of Nottingham, braved the wind.

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter


smallicon Blog Post 18th November 2015

Thank you NUH staff for the superb care that you give to your patients, our donors- Written by Barbara Cathcart (Chief Executive)

Last Friday night, as events were raging in Paris, I was blissfully ensconced in a celebration event at the East Midlands Conference Centre: the NUHonours staff awards, which Nottingham Hospitals Charity had the privilege of hosting. As chief executive of the charity, I was awarded the pleasure of welcoming guests with a short speech.

It was a joyous event, learning about the lengths to which staff go in order to care for patients, just as part of their everyday jobs. It was a highlight of my working life, to spend four hours in pleasure and delight, honouring the very best in people. Before publicly recognising these special people’s contributions to the Nottingham’s hospitals and the NHS, I was able to tell a Charity story in my speech:

“It is my great pleasure to welcome you all here for this year’s awards.

“This beautifully-decorated dining room, courtesy of members from the communications and charity teams, is split into two kinds of people: those of you who are being honoured, and those of us who are here to honour you.

“This isn’t very different from my everyday job: we at Nottingham Hospitals Charity are the recipients of donations given in appreciation for the care you provide. Our donors are your patients, and they honour you every time we receive a gift. It is the most wonderful virtuous circle: you care for them, they thank you by giving to our charity, and our charity invests their gifts back into the hospitals, enhancing the care you provide. And this goes on and on, day after day, year after year.

“It has been my privilege to serve on the judging panel of these awards for several years and each year, we read extraordinary stories about the lengths you all go to for your patients. No kindness is too small, no service transformation too big.

“Rather than having to choose a few selected stories from this year’s awards – that just wouldn’t feel fair, I am going to tell you one of our own stories that illustrates the impact that you have on peoples’ lives; sometimes without even knowing it. And a story that will honour someone who will never know about tonight.

“From the charity’s perspective, the highest honour of all is for you to be recognised by a patient who leaves a gift in their Will; whole houses and estates are left to us. The maximum value I’ve witnessed in my time is over £1 million. It is not uncommon for us to receive several hundreds of thousands of pounds

“A few months ago, we received notification of a Will that left a house to our Charity. There was no family left and my team had to physically clear out the house. (Their story about illegal whale bones is a whole other tale.)

“ When they arrived, the widower’s slippers were still under his well-worn chair and an open bottle of wine was beside it. They found it very sad, because my team were the closest thing he had to family after his death, pouring through his intimate objects.

“His house sold and the Charity received over £310,000 for motor neurone disease research.

“And do you know what we learned as we searched through his correspondence?

“We learned that this man’s wife had died before him, that she had suffered from motor neurone disease, and that one day, her consultant offered to drive them home from a motor neurone support group meeting – home to the very house that he left as a gift in his Will. He was thanking that clinician for going beyond the call of duty, for that extra kindness demonstrated by her action.

“That will was written in 1996. The Charity has all this man’s belongings because of that doctor. And coming back to my beginning, that clinician would never have anticipated the impact of her actions.

“We are here to celebrate your extraordinary contribution to patients’ lives and we are only able to do this because of people like the late Mr. John Terence Martin and all our other donors, who are your patients.

“So thank you all for the superb care that you give to your patients, our donors.”

While driving home, I turned on the radio to hear about what had been taking place during this exact same period of time and the contrast could not have been more starkly felt: between celebrating all that it is the very best in people, with, well, what words can’t convey. And in imagining the ordeal of the affected thousands of citizens within Paris, I was left thinking that I hoped they would receive the care, devotion and attention within their medical community, as I had just witnessed is very present in ours, here in Nottingham.

I remind myself, at times like these, that goodness does exist and that love will always prevail. The American novelist Pearl S. Buck writes: “When good people in any country cease their vigilance and struggle, then evil men prevail.”

Let us all remain vigilant in our efforts and look forward to the tenth annual NUHonours – to once again witness what is the very best in our human nature.

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter



smallicon Blog Post 21st October 2015

“Responsibility is the price of greatness”…- Written by Nick Lawford (Acting Fundraising Manager)

I think it was Winston Churchill who said “Responsibility is the price of greatness”.

Hello readers.  My name is Nick and I am Corporate Partnerships Development Officer at Nottingham Hospitals Charity.  I work with amazing, community-spirited businesses in Nottingham and further afield who provide important support for our hospitals.  Essentially, I’m always on the lookout for companies who are both great and responsible – and I’m super pleased to say that there are plenty of them about!

Hillarys is a real Nottingham success story and a true demonstration in corporate form, I think, of Churchill’s principle.  Started more than 40 years ago by one man making blinds in his garage, the company now has a network of more than 1,000 sales advisors throughout the UK and employs over 1,000 staff at its offices and manufacturing plants in Nottingham and Washington.  Greatness: tick!

Since its Charity Committee was founded in 2002, Hillarys staff have chosen a local charity to support every two years, raising thousands of pounds for good causes.  Responsibility: tick!

At the moment Hillarys’ chosen charity is Hayward House, the specialist palliative care centre on the grounds of City Hospital.  It has been a real pleasure working with them over the last year or so.  The Hillarys team have been getting involved with a wide variety of activities and events to raise funds which will have a big impact on patients and families at Hayward House.

There have been elaborate cake sales, a Wimbledon-themed fun day, lotteries, muddy runs, fabric sales, skydives, Directors washing cars, book sales – the list of fundraising activities goes on and on.  The team have also collected tea and coffee and other supplies which they have donated directly to Hayward House’s tea bar.

Most recently, Julie, the lovely receptionist at Hillarys’ Colwick head office, decided to shave her head for Hayward House, and has so far raised more than £2,300.  This is an amazing amount of money which will help us to fund important additional services for patients and families at Hayward House – things like complimentary therapy, daycare activities, additional nursing time and counselling support.

Julie is one of the most inspiring fundraisers I’ve come across recently and her new hairdo looks great too!  Her Just Giving page is just brilliant and I defy anyone not to want to give a few quid after you’ve read it – go on, I dare you!  Here’s a short extract:

“You know, several people have told me that I’m “brave” for having my hair shaved off and, while I’ll confess it is taking a certain amount of courage, I’m not brave.  Imagine going to work every day knowing that someone is going to die.  That you’ll have to comfort grieving families and loved ones.  To be around such sorrow every working day and still manage to maintain an air of peace and calm and comfort.  Nah…..I’m not brave.”

Julie’s words are beautifully and powerfully put.  I also love the fact that she ends with “So please, instead of telling me I’m brave….gimme a fiver! Hahaha” – a direct ask and a good sense of humour: the mark of a fantastic fundraiser!

Corporate support for charities and the local community isn’t just a nice thing to do – it makes good business sense.  As Anita Roddick put it, “the end result of kindness is that it draws people to you.”  And Anita knew what she was talking about.  Not only will the money raised by Hillarys – and by all of our corporate supporters, of all shapes and sizes – have a hugely positive impact on patients being treated in Nottingham, it also helps to strengthen the company’s profile.  Employees, customers, stakeholders – kindness and charity helps to draw them all in, and to keep them close.

I love working with businesses and seeing all of the different ways that staff get involved to help make a difference to Nottingham’s hospitals.  If you work for a company and would like to find out more about how you can get involved and about how you can support patients and families in Nottingham then please do get in touch.

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter

smallicon Blog post 9th October 2015

Fundraising events at Nottingham Hospitals Charity – written by Naomi Walters (Senior Community Fundraiser)

Hello everyone!

My name is Naomi and I work in the fundraising team at Nottingham Hospitals Charity. I’ve worked at the Charity since July 2014 and I’ve had an amazing first year with the Charity. There is no typical working day in the fundraising team: you can be working in the office one day, out at a marathon the next day, or even watching someone wax their chest for Charity!

As part of the fundraising team here at the Charity, I’m lucky to be closely involved with events and challenges that our supporters undertake to raise money for our Charity. It is a real privilege to be able to hear about so many fantastic fundraising ideas, so I thought I would share some with you in this week’s blog.

In particular, I’ll be focusing on Hayward House: the staff and volunteers there are working incredibly hard to raise money to support their patients and have a very impressive selection of events which they are putting on!

This Saturday, Hayward House are hosting an Autumn Fair between 10am and 1pm. Not only will this be a great opportunity for patients and families to socialise together, it will also showcase some of the amazing crafts that patients create together during Day Therapy Activities (today in Hayward House I saw a handcrafted wooden birdhouse – there are all sort of amazing things!). Money raised at the Autumn Fair will help to support patient care at Hayward House by enhancing the environment, and helping to fund invaluable services including complementary therapy.

It is well acknowledged that spending the holidays in hospital and away from family festivities is an ordeal for many, and it is so inspiring to see all NUH staff and volunteers going the extra mile to make sure their patients have the best time possible. Staff at Hayward House are no exception, and continually provide activities and support for their patients. This Christmas, they will be spreading the Christmas spirit in many ways, not only with their Christmas Fair on Saturday 28th November and Christmas Choir Concert on Saturday 5th December.

There will also be a Christmas Fair hosted by the SRU staff  team taking place in Sherwood Hall at the City Hospital on 10th December – there will be raffles, stalls, cakes (of course!), and possibly even a static cycle!

Support for any area of our hospitals not only involves staff and volunteers like in the above examples, but extends to many kind community members, companies, schools, and other clubs and organisations. Support like this means a great deal to us, and has a real positive effect on our patients. Myself, Nick, and Ruth form the fundraising team at Nottingham Hospitals Charity. It is fantastic to be a part of this team, as we get to meet so many incredible people who support us.

We’re always on hand to provide advice and support with fundraising, so please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to fundraise this Christmas (you can find our details on the here).

Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter

Blog post 1st October 2015

Working with NUH and the CQC visit – written by Barbara Cathcart (Chief Executive)

It’s a rather strange feeling to be connected to something that you care so much about but don’t really belong to, and definitely have no control over. That’s what it was like for me, sitting alongside our Nottingham hospitals, while the Care Quality Commission (CQC) conducted its recent inspection. If I was virtually holding my breath, I can’t imagine what it would have been like for the thousands of staff who work here.

We understand the report may be outin December. In the meantime, it’s wonderful to know that the inspectors described NUH as a caring organisation. That observation doesn’t surprise me; I’ve heard it and experienced it personally many times.

Now it doesn’t take too much imagination to realise that caring staff give better care. This is a link that we at Nottingham Hospitals Charity understand and appreciate very well, which is why we have been working with the NUH executive team to significantly support clinical and non-clinical staff development.

As the Charity’s chief executive, I am proud to report that I received a note from one of the Trust’s directors saying that nursing and midwifery would not have been able to achieve what it has without our support. This in no way means that nursing and midwifery needed our support to provide their excellent level of care; it means that the Charity provided enhancements to grow on that strength. This was considered particularly strategic and important after the Mid-Staffordshire report and its subsequent learnings.

The Charity was receiving requests from staff to attend conferences, strategy days and forums, to share expertise at poster events, to visit other hospital trusts, to undertake specialist training – a variety of activities that would enhance their learning that would not be provided through normal funding channels.

We were receiving so many requests that we required input from hospital ‘experts’ over what should and should not be funded, so we struck up a multi-disciplinary committee to review the applications on our behalf to make recommendations about which programmes and projects would most benefit patients. The Staff Development Committee is comprised of a physiotherapist, speech therapist, radiologist, stroke specialist, service improvement lead, consultant, human resources officer, among others. There isn’t a finance manager in sight (no offence!).

The results have been astounding. From two meetings per year, we had to increase to three; such was the take-up and interest in receiving the extra development provided to staff from the Charity.

And we don’t stop there: we request follow-up reports on the impact our grants have made on direct patient care. At the end of the day, the NHS has its job to do and we have ours: to safeguard charitable donations, fundraising proceeds and legacies for the sole purpose of benefitting patients.

It’s such a pleasure and shared sense of pride that our Charity has played its role in helping Nottingham University Hospitals’ staff to shine during the CQC inspection and beyond. We can all exhale now, until the next time…


Thank you for reading our Nottingham Hospitals Charity blog. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter

Blog post 25th September 2015

Our new Charity blog – written by Amanda C (Charity PR Manager)

Welcome to the new Nottingham Hospitals Charity (NHC) blog and thanks for showing an interest in NHC!

Our blog will be made up of posts from different people at the Charity including our fundraising team and our management team who will share with you insights into their working lives and day-to-day experience at NHC. We will also feature guest bloggers from time-to-time, so you can hear directly from the staff we work with and the patients we support.

We’ll aim to update you as often as we can and whenever we have something interesting to share – we hope you like this new blog, please feel free to send this to friends and family.

So, on to the core update of this week’s blog post – a bit about Nottingham Hospitals Charity. For anyone not aware of the Charity, we’re a smallish team of people who raise about £4 million a year thanks to our supporters, and all funds raised go directly to support patients at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust. We cover all areas of City Hospital, QMC and Ropewalk House, so whatever people want to support, they can help the area closest to their heart.

Over the last year the Charity has been involved in a variety of projects, large and small. A couple of the bigger projects were a £2.1 million donation towards the Wolfson Cystic Fibrosis Centre which creates a ‘home in hospital’, where patients can not only receive all the treatment they need in one place, but also feel comfortable and at-home during the long periods of time they have to spend in hospital.

We have also been instrumental in the refurbishment of the Children’s Cancer and Neuroscience wards to make children more comfortable, in a brighter, more colourful environment, using a state-of-the-art ventilation system to keep children as healthy as possible while in hospital.

A few of us attended the official openings of both of these units and the reaction from patients, families and staff was amazing, which is what makes working for Nottingham Hospitals Charity so rewarding!

It’s not just the bigger projects though; we get involved in a variety of smaller schemes across NUH, from providing stickers or crayons to reward younger patients for their bravery during difficult treatment, to the purchase of DVD’s to entertain and provide comfort for patients enduring long treatment or a stay in hospital.

The Charity also plays a massive part in research at the hospitals too and understands the importance of making sure that we develop the treatments of the future, as well as today’s. One particular area of investment is research into breast cancer – it is encouraging to think that the funding the Charity provides today might inform the treatment of patients tomorrow and help people fight this horrible disease.

We rely on staff and patients at NUH to tell us what they want and need which enables us to provide what matters most to the people we are here to support. As we are Nottingham based, we are also able to use all donations locally, to directly benefit patients at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

I hope that this blog will help to provide some insight into the work of the Charity and the people we support. If you enjoyed this post why not follow the Charity via our website (, Facebook: NHC Facebook or Twitter: NHC Twitter. We’d love you to help us spread the word about the work of the NHC, so we can help even more patients in Nottingham and the East Midlands.

Thanks for reading