Friends of the Eastbourne Hospital is a registered charity which has been raising funds to provide extra equipment and services for hospital patients, staff and visitors for 70 years.
Originally called The Patients Association, the charity was formed in 1948 shortly before the introduction of the NHS, when it became apparent that resources would not be enough to meet the cost of all the necessities and amenities for staff and patients. The first statement of accounts was £239.3/1d – the money was put at the disposal of the hospital management committees.
The charity was renamed in 1952 as The Friends of the Eastbourne Hospitals and supported eight local hospitals:
- Princess Alice
- St Mary’s
- The Leaf
- Merlynn Convalescent
- Eye Hospital
- ENT Hospital
Minute Extract from 1956: ‘It was noted with regret that the favourite budgie at Downside had passed away and the secretary was instructed to arrange for his replacement.’ One year’s maintenance for a budgie was 2/6d.
In 1956 the Friends had 1,000 members and £1,000 was gifted to the hospitals.
Also in 1956, male patients in two wards at St Mary’s Hospital, were able to tune into the Hospital Radio, thanks to the charity.
An exert from The Gazette, Wednesday 25th November 1959: “The Friends of the Eastbourne Hospitals held their Annual General Meeting at All Saints Hospital, which has recently been acquired for the group.”
All Saints was the site of the Friends of Eastbourne Hospitals Fete. In 1974 it was opened by Ronnie Corbett, who was headlining ‘Startime’ at the Congress Theatre.
All Saints hospital closed in 2004.
The District General Hospital (DGH) was built in two phases. The first opened in 1976, the second in 1989. It became the base for the office of the Friends of the Eastbourne Hospitals.
Following the close of All Saints Hospital in 2004, the Eastbourne DGH became the only hospital being supported by the charity so in 2013 the name was amended to avoid confusion, this time to Friends of the Eastbourne Hospital.