A History of the League
Seaton and District Hospital League of Friends was formed on 3rd October 1984, attaining charity status in February 1985. At the time, there was no hospital, and this is believed to be the first recorded instance of the formation of a League of Friends for a hospital which did not exist.
The local community had been raising funds to build a hospital since the 1930s and building began in February 1987 with the first patients admitted in April 1988. The hospital was officially opened on 10th May 1988 by HRH the Duchess of Gloucester and at this point the hospital consisted of 2 wards, named Kingfisher and Cormorant, and a physiotherapy unit. By the time the hospital was celebrating its first birthday the wards were full, the physiotherapy unit was busy, the gardens were flourishing, and work was underway for a new wing with a third ward called Heron.
The League has continued to support the local community throughout the almost 40 years of its existence. Sadly, many community hospitals lost their beds in 2017 and Seaton was no exception. However, the hospital continues to provide outpatient clinics, the physiotherapy unit is still going strong and many community staff are now based at the hospital as they care for the patients in the community.
In the words of Mary Wood who was instrumental in the formation of the League and the building of the hospital,
“Sitting back and admiring the hospital, and self-congratulation on achievement is not the policy of The League of Friends. The League must be strong, alert and in continual work and readiness to support its hospital.
Awareness of possible changes in the NHS is essential. The help and continual support of the public is vital. Seaton has a Community Hospital and has worked long and hard to achieve it. We must all be aware of the future and continue our work.”
With the gradual shift within the NHS to caring for people within their own homes, the work of the League has similarly shifted, exemplified by Seaton Hospice at Home. Since 2010, The League has supported Seaton Hospice at Home, a specialist nursing service to care for people with life-limiting illnesses and funded entirely by The League. We run two charity shops in the town, offer short term lets in our bungalow to support carers wishing to take a break in the area and are involved in various local activities including a social support group.
In 2022 The League of Friends was amazed and delighted to receive a very significant legacy from Mr. Ian Beer, late of Beer, who had always felt a strong commitment to supporting the local hospital, like his father before him who had donated to the building of the new hospital wing. Mr. Beer expressed his wish to support the work of The League to provide care at home for people suffering ill health. Mr Beer’s generosity has allowed The League to embark on a period of growth and transformation, finding new opportunities in our community where we can work to reduce hardship and social isolation brought about by ill health.
To return to the words of Mary Wood,
“The help and continual support of the public is vital.”
The hospital, Seaton Hospice at Home and The League of Friends would not exist without the generosity, goodwill and support of the local community. As our local community continues to grow and age The League remains humbled and honoured by the support it receives and will continue to work to support our hospital and care for the needs of the population it serves.
Dr Mark Welland – Chair
Dr John Coop – Vice Chair
Shirley Robinson – Treasurer
Carol Rowe – Secretary
Kirstine House – CEO
Lycia Moore – Office Manager
Louisa Rees – Shop Manager
Linda Richardson – Shop Manager
Kirstin MacLean – Assistant Shop Manager
Seaton Hospice at Home
Alison – Administrator