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FoEH AGM 2022

There was not a spare seat in the house at the Friends of Eastbourne Hospital’s AGM, held at Victoria Baptist Church, on November 23rd.

A warm welcome to everyone in the room by outgoing President Dr Peter Nash was followed by Dr Harry Walmsley’s Chair’s Report, in which we were reminded of the aims and objectives of the charity, how it is managed, and the fact that in this year the Friends will be saying goodbye not only to Dr Nash as President, but also to retiring Shop Manager Sue Hitchen, who has been a true force for the Friends over the 12 years she has had the role. A new Trustee, Terry Henson, was elected, and the appointment of the new Shop Manager, Rai Hitchen was announced. Already very active, the new President of the Friends, Sandy Boyce-Sharpe, was also officially elected to replace Dr Nash when he stepped down from the meeting. 

Harry Walmsley went on to round up the Friends’ main sources of income, the shops’ activity, legacies and donations, and the year’s fundraising activities. He also explained what the bulk of the funds had then been spent on – noting in particular the huge success of the fundraising for the Major Project of 2022, which saw the Friends hit their target of £500,000 to replace the Da Vinci robot in Eastbourne’s Urology Department – an enormous achievement for the Friends, the hospital and for Eastbourne as a regional centre of excellence. Hot on its heels, next year’s Major Project was then announced, with a target of £250k to buy specialist equipment for the cardiac catheter lab, following the news that acute cardiology and specialist cardiology in-patient services are now to be based in Eastbourne.

And there was more! Sponsorship of not one, but two football teams; our perennial plea for essential volunteers; and so importantly, an enormous thank you to all the existing volunteers,  members and supporters for their invaluable loyalty.

Peter Skilbeck then delivered his Treasurer’s Report, thanked by Peter Nash who acknowledged the very safe hands the Friends’ accounts are in.

In his final address as President, Dr Nash then spoke to the room of his 45-year association with Eastbourne hospitals, recalling anecdotes of his time as a junior doctor at St Mary’s (well positioned near the Tally Ho, where he and colleagues would sometimes take their breaks – until the red phone on the bar rang and they were called back for an emergency!). He has seen step changes in management, service and the hospitals across the 45 years since starting his career, and not least he’s known at least eight Chairs and CEOs of the DGH. The constant, he said, has been the Friends and the support they have always offered over the years.

Unfortunately, Urology Consultant and our scheduled guest speaker, Peter Rimmington was delayed in clinic and unable to make it in time to acknowledge his department’s gratitude for all donations to the robot, but the meeting continued with a further thank you and presentation to Sue Hitchen, followed by questions and answers to all speakers. I thought better of raising my hand to ask where we could get hold of one of those red phones.

At the end of the meeting, Peter Nash once again addressed the room, explaining very clearly that it is entirely due to members’ and the community’s support that we are able to do what we do. He gave heartfelt thanks to all who give their time and money to help the Friends and noted that, whilst the Board members may be the faces of the Friends, the credit and the enormous thanks go to the members of the public. “It is all thanks to YOU” he said.

Chairman Dr Harry Walmsley thanks retiring Shop Manager Sue Hitchen for her years of hard work for the Friends
Outgoing President, Dr Peter Nash, welcomes Sandy Boyce-Sharpe as the new President of the Friends
FoEH member and supporter Chris Conlon talks to Eastbourne Mayor Pat Rodohan
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