Ever since the first hospitals were built in Rugby, up until the establishment of the National Health Service in 1948, hospitals were funded by locally and supported by volunteers.

The Hospital of St Cross was founded in 1882 by the donation of land and a gift of £10,000 from Richard Henry Wood, who also funded the creation of the town’s library. The hospital was opened on 17th July 1884 and was governed by a management board who collected subscriptions and donations from local residents.

This approach ceased when the NHS came into being but in 1955 a group of residents came together to form The League of Friends which provided voluntary support for the hospital.

The beginnings were small; the first finance report records a balance of only £90 7s 5d (about £90.38p in today’s money). The vision of that group was to help our local hospital but never in their imagination could they have perceived then what their vision was to create. 

Today’s Friends of the Hospital of St. Cross (the name of the charity changed in 1993) has over 150 active volunteers providing an increasing number of voluntary services at the hospital, fund raising and managing the affairs of the charity; and have donated equipment and supported projects costing over £4m since that first meeting.

The present members and volunteers, the patients and staff of Rugby’s NHS have much to be thankful for, for the vision of those early pioneers.