Bicester Community Hospital had a perfect beginning to the Volunteers’ Week, receiving a new patient transport vehicle from the League of Friends on Saturday. The £14,000 Fiat Doblo will be used by the therapy team to transport patients with restricted mobility to home assessment before they are discharged from the hospital. The van will accommodate the widest wheelchair and is adapted with an electric winch, which allows a wheelchair user to be assisted into the van easily via a ramp.

The ceremony was attended by clinical director Pete McGrane, service manager Carol Duncombe, matron and clinical lead Helen Lambourne and ward manager Steph Dau, all from Oxford Health, Mayor of Bicester Jason Slaymaker, Mary Sibley, chairman of Oxfordshire County Council Les Sibley, physiotherapist Kurt Austin and League of Friends chairperson Wendy Wright (pictured above from left to right.)

Support from local business

The new vehicle will be used to take patients for a home visit before discharge from the hospital so that the therapy team can assess what kind of adjustments and equipment they may need at home. It replaced an older one from 2001, known locally as the Gold Nugget, which also was also donated by the League of Friends.

Bicester Community Hospital volunteers enjoyed an afternoon tea in the garden.

“We had a discussion last year about the possibility of replacing the Gold Nugget; there was money in the bank, so it was a unanimous decision to look for a replacement,” said committee member Valerie Sullivan from the League of Friends.

“We purchased it from Fleximobility in Carterton. Their sales manager Radu was extremely helpful, and we were given a great deal of help in choosing the new vehicle. They will also arrange a yearly service for us, collecting and returning the vehicle, and providing a spare if we need it. The signage was done by Storm Graphics in Bicester, at a reduced price.”

“Gold Nuggett will get a new home, too. We are donating it to the Hummingbird Cancer Support Group,” told committee member Wendy Wright.

The League of Friends of Bicester Community Hospital support the hospital by fundraising to supply equipment that is not provided by the NHS. They raise money with regular coffee mornings and a summer fete, and also receive donations from local businesses and grateful patients. They also give their time helping on the wards by bed making, serving teas and interacting with the patients.

“Our committee members are very dedicated to Bicester Community Hospital, but sadly we are all getting older. We are in need of some younger, fresher people to continue to support our hospital!”

If you would be interested in getting involved with the League of Friends, contact Wendy Wright 01869 252246.