End of an era for West Norfolk Friends of the Stroke Unit group
A charity group which has raised more than £160,000 over a decade to support stroke patients in West Norfolk has presented its final cheque.
The Friends of the Stroke Unit, which disbanded this week, handed over £20,522 to West Raynham Ward at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Wednesday.
Although the group has now disbanded, the name is set to live on after QEH chief executive Jon Green told them on Wednesday that he wanted the fundraising efforts to continue.
Ann Lankester, stroke specialist sister and a founding member of the group, said: “It’s a relief that we can hand the charity over within the hospital.
“When you’re involved in something for so long, it’s heartbreaking to walk away from it but we have got to the point where we have to leave.”
She added that changes to the ward over the years have made a “huge difference” to patients and staff.
The Friends of the Stroke Unit had put an appeal for new members to take over their administrative roles earlier in the year, but unfortunately the group felt they were unable to find people who were fully committed to carry on the work.
Chairman Francis Bone said: “With many of the current committee members’ personal circumstances changing in terms of work or retirement, we had to make a hard decision about the future of the Friends group.”
The group formed 12 years ago when Paul Brandon chose the West Raynham Ward as his charity of the year while he was borough mayor.
The members all felt passionately about raising funds for the stroke unit as they had personal experiences with the condition, either themselves or through family and friends.
Mr Bone said: “We have generally never had much trouble raising money, people are so generous.
“A lot of money comes in from families as there’s such good care in this ward, it’s exceptional.”
He said the ward is currently ranked seventh best in the country.
Mr Bone added: “In the many years the Friends group has raised vast sums with the initial target to refurbish the day room.”
Since then, they have raised funds to pay for vital equipment, staff training and toiletries for the patients.
A mayor’s sponsored bike ride, the Hunstanton Beach Run and a relay in 2012 with an Olympic torch from 1948 were just some of the fundraising events the group organised and took part in over the years.
Mr Green said it is unclear at this time what form the Friends of the Stroke Unit will take in the future.
“We will keep the name alive either as a separate charity attached to our overall charitable status or as a named fund within our charity, so that people can still see the money is going where they wish it to go,” he added.
Mr Green paid tribute to the work the Friends of the Stroke Unit has done over the years.
He said: “The amount of money they have raised over a decade from a really small team is absolutely astounding.
“What’s great about the QEH is that there’s real community support and a real community that supports the hospital.
“They have kept it going for over a decade and I think it’s fantastic.”