“It’s just something we all enjoy doing” - Hospital Radio Norwich celebrates 40 years of making patients’ stays better

The volunteers at the NNUH celebrate their 40th anniversary. Picture by: Sonya Duncan

The volunteers at the NNUH celebrate their 40th anniversary. Picture by: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

For 40 years they've been playing hits to ease the stay of poorly patients.

The volunteers at the NNUH celebrate their 40th anniversary. Picture by: Sonya Duncan

The volunteers at the NNUH celebrate their 40th anniversary. Picture by: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

But on Saturday, Hospital Radio Norwich's broadcast was a bit different.

The station's volunteers gathered in the atrium of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for a live show – as well as a birthday cake with a radio on it.

Bob Proudfoot, the last remaining member of the crew who helped set up the station 40 years ago, said the idea developed from people wanting to read stories to hospital patients.

'They found limitations with that so we decided to play music instead,' Mr Proudfoot said.

The volunteers at the NNUH celebrate their 40th anniversary. Picture by: Sonya Duncan

The volunteers at the NNUH celebrate their 40th anniversary. Picture by: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan


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His friend, a DJ called Stuart Graham, got him and his large record collection on board and they began broadcasting at what was then West Norwich Hospital for three hours every Sunday morning in December 1974.

The chapel at the hospital already had a system to relay religious services to wards which the radio station could use.

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'It gradually developed and we are now on 24/7,' the 68-year-old said.

Today, they use a programme developed by the station's chairman, Mike Sarre, which analyses all the requests from patients and picks the playlist automatically to suit the music tastes of the requests.

The station, however, does broadcast live for two hours each evening and when Norwich City play at Carrow Road.

Mr Proudfoot, from Sprowston, who was honoured by the N&N last week for his 40 years, met his wife Irenee Batch volunteering at Hospital Radio Norwich and they married in 1978.

'Patients enjoy it particularly in the night time if they can't sleep,' he said. 'It's just something we all enjoy doing. The 40 years just crept up on us.'

Volunteers also go around the wards to ask patients which songs they'd like to hear.

'I like visiting them,' said David Furse, 72, who has volunteered at the station for 28 years. 'I get a lot of enjoyment out of it and it gives a lot enjoyment back to people.'

The station has gone from having a small record collection to a digital database of more than 70,000 songs.

Its annual running costs of around £2,000 come from the volunteers' own fundraising efforts.

But they are currently saving up for £7,000 worth of new equipment so they can better broadcast games from Carrow Road to poorly Canary fans.

The station does not receive any financial support from the N&N but the hospital has given the station a studio on the Colney Lane site.

Do you have a health story? Email tom.bristow@archant.co.uk

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