The 66th ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of the Friends of the Hospital of St. Cross was held in the Benn Hall on Wednesday 1st December 2021.

The meeting was opened by Kate Lawrence, the President of the Friends who welcomed our guest speakers and the 52 other attendees. 

Our guest speakers pictured

♦ in the top row were The High Sheriff of Warwickshire, The Lady Min Willoughby de Broke and The Worshipful Mayor of Rugby, Councillor Deepah Roberts  

♦ in the second row were Dame Stella Manzie DBE, Chair of the UHCW NHS Trust, and Sam Neale, Chemotherapy Services Manager and Lead Chemotherapy Nurse at the UHCW Trust

After the opening formalities, Kate introduced the first of our guest speakers, The Mayor of Rugby Councillor Deepah Roberts, who thanked the Friends for inviting her to the AGM. She said that the Hospital of St Cross is close to her heart as it was the first hospital she worked in after completing her university degree. She acknowledged the important role volunteers play in not only supporting patients on their care pathway but also supporting staff and other local organisations. Such dedication helps to bring the hospital closer to the community. She congratulated the Friends on achieving an historic milestone of £4 million in donations over is lifetime.

Willy Goldschmidt then gave the Chairman's report, for 2020 and the year to date. His presentation opened with a mention of how the Friends volunteers had responded over the previous year and the recognition they had received. During the pandemic various services had to cease but the Friends are now delivering new services and 100 volunteers are delivering more hours of voluntary service than before the pandemic struck. Teams and individuals were nominated for UHCW Trust OSCA’s and World Class Colleague Awards. Bob Tooze, the Service Co-ordinator for the Ward Admin Service, was recognised for his dedication and pride he takes in the work of the team. The Trust named him as the first volunteer to be recognised as World Class Colleague in October and in November he was awarded the Volunteer of the year OSCA. The Friends also received a prestigious award from the High Sheriff of Warwickshire Joe Greenwell CBE DL in recognition of the great and valuable services offered to the community. Slides showed pictures of various donations made throughout 2020 which had all made a difference to patients and staff and acknowledgment was made that donations to date in 2021 had broken all previous records in financial terms. A historic milestone had also been reached of £4 million being donated to the hospital since the charity formed in 1955. All of the above would not have been possible without the generous support of the local community. Willy, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, thanked each and every person for their support. A full copy of the report can be found in the Annual Report 2020

Willy then introduced The High Sheriff of Warwickshire – The Lady de Broke who commenced her speech by giving thanks to everyone for inviting her to attend. She gave a short overview of the role of the High Sheriff which is over 1000 years old. The High Sheriff represents the Sovereign in the various counties in the UK and was traditionally responsible for upholding all matters relating to the Judiciary and maintaining law and order. They receive no remuneration of any type. For many years only men had undertaken the role but in 1967 the first lady High Sheriff was appointed. Men and women now share it approximately 50% each throughout the country. She commented on The High Sheriff of Warwickshire’s award received by the Friends in March 2021 from her predecessor Joe Greenwell CBE DL in recognition of their great and valuable services to the community. She felt the award was highly deserved and it was astonishing to hear of the Friends reaching over £4 million in donations to the NHS since it started in 1955. It was truly humbling how many people had offered and continue to offer their services to the charity. 

Paul Malin gave the Treasurer's report and thanked his predecessor Mr. David Roberts for preparing the Statement of Accounts for 2020. A summary of the year showed a total income in 2020 of £133,158 with a total of gifts made in 2020 of £46,107 including amounts accrued for payment from 2019. The cash balance at yearend was £481,281. The level of reserves at the end of 2020 enabled the charity to underwrite a commitment of up to £200,000 for the Maple Unit. A copy of the Treasurer’s Report can be found in the Annual Report. The Gift List for 2020 is included in the report. Paul acknowledged the work of fellow Trustee Stephen Walshaw who is the Charity's Purchasing Lead. Stephen had achieved considerable savings on items he purchased on behalf of the Charity.  

Dr. Beth Harrison (Consultant Haematologist and Clinical Head of Service within the Medicine Group at the UHCW Trust) and Sam Neale (Chemotherapy Services Manager and Lead Chemotherapy Nurse at UHCW Trust) gave a presentation about the new Oncology and Haematology Day Unit at the Hospital of St Cross. The Unit is utilising space in what was the Old Mulberry Ward. The unit enables Outpatient Haematology, Oncology services, Clinical Psychology Services and DVT and Anticoagulation Services to be offered on site. The name of the Unit (Maple) was decided by a staff/patient vote. It was opened in April 2021. It offers 5 consulting rooms all of which are bright and delightful areas to be in. There are also 2 waiting rooms and 9 treatment chairs with an additional private side room. A total of 215 blood transfusions, 6 bone marrow, 675 chemotherapy sessions and over 1,600 outpatient visits recorded during the first six months. Patient feedback was extremely positive with the ability to be treated locally, having volunteers to help during an appointment and outstanding level of care from staff all noted. The speakers, on behalf of the department, thanked the Friends for the tremendous support they had received and continue to receive all of which has enabled the vision to become a reality in relation to improving the treatment services for patients locally. They also acknowledged the work and help of Trustee Stephen Walshaw (Purchasing Lead) especially during the early months of Covid-19.  

Dame Stella Manzie DBE, Chair of the UHCW NHS Trust offered a vote of thanks on behalf of the Trust to the Friends for all the outstanding work over many years by so many volunteers and supporters. It was an opportunity to highlight how the charity had developed an excellent working relationship not only with staff on the Rugby St Cross site but also with staff at the University Hospital Coventry. Working together had enabled a number of new services to be developed. She emphasised that volunteers are absolutely essential for not only helping to raise funds but also to the smooth running of the hospital. People have great affection for the Hospital of St Cross and all that it offers. On behalf of the Trust Board she thanked everyone for their continuous support. She ended her speech by quoting the following saying: ‘Volunteers are unpaid not because they are worthless but are priceless.’

Dame Stella, on behalf of the UHCW Trust Board, made a special tribute to Willy Goldschmidt (retiring Chairman). She paid tribute to him for all his leadership and dedication over many years. Wrapped gifts and a frame containing a number of photographs was given to WG.

The attendees were then invited to vote to approve the nominations for the roles of President, Honorary Vice President and Trustees of the charity who were duly appointed. 

Recognition awards were presented to John Buckley was awarded Life Membership after 15 years as a volunteer.

Karen Tomlinson, the Friends Admin Co-Ordinator was recognised for her immense contribution to the Charity especially in co-ordinating recruitment of volunteers and being a key contact for volunteers throughout the year.

Tracey Lennard (who was inspired to join the charity by Mike Rigby) presented Mike him with a special award on behalf of the charity for all his dedication since 1983 when he volunteered to become assistant treasurer. Over the many years he has undertaken numerous roles within the organisation in particular in 1998 when he took on the role of Chairman. A bouquet of flowers was presented to Mike's wife Pat in recognition of the support she has also given over many years. 

There being no further business Kate Lawrence  thanked everyone for attending and the meeting closed at 7.55pm.