The 65th ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of the Friends of the Hospital of St. Cross was held as a webinar on Wednesday 30th September 2020.

The meeting was opened by Kate Lawrence, the President of the Friends who welcomed our guest speakers and the 45 other attendees to the webinar. Kate acknowledged that the Trustees had hoped to hold a face to face meeting but had decided that, due to the rising levels of COVID-19 infection, the "right thing to do", for a charity which supports the NHS, was to switch to a virtual meeting format.

Our guest speakers pictured

♦ in the top row were The Worshipful Mayor of Rugby, Councillor William Lewis and Dame Stella Manzie DBE, Chair of the UHCW NHS Trust

♦ in the second row were 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 the UHCW Trust

After the opening formalities, Kate introduced the first of our guest speakers, Councillor William Lewis, who reflected on the fact that he was probably the first Mayor of the town to have been appointed for a period of two years and so was able to speak about the fact that he had visited the Hospital on 4 separate occasions as well as attending two fund raising events in support of the Charity. Councillor Lewis thanked the Charity for the service our volunteers had provided to the community and in particular our contribution to the Rugby PPE Response initiative.

Doug Jones, Vice Chair of the Friends, thanked the Mayor for his kind words and his support for the Charity.

Willy Goldschmidt then gave the Chairman's report, for 2019, to the meeting. The presentation was split into 3 elements highlighting some of the :-

♦ equipment donated 

♦ fundraising activities

♦ volunteer and community engagement

Willy went on to report on the Rugby PPE Response initiative in which 20 volunteers from the Charity had played a central role in the organisation, production and distribution of 13,733 face visors for NHS and Care home staff until the NHS supply chain was able to meet demand. The initiative brought together many organisations in the town including the Benn Partnership Centre which hosted the second phase of the initiative. Together the community produced another 19,634 items of PPE including over 10,000 cloth face masks for vulnerable members of the community. The positive impact of the initiative was formally acknowledged by the Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire, The Mayor of Rugby and the Clinical Lead for the Primary Health Service in Rugby.

David Roberts gave the Treasurer's report for 2019 which showed a small increase in our reserves which are adequate to meet the commitment to spend £200,000 to help bring Chemotherapy services to the hospital. David's analysis of the accounts showed the variances from the out-turn in 2018. The most significant of which was an increase of £167,783 in the amount of legacies received. Also of particular note was that our social and public fundraising was 58.9% over the budget for the year. David talked about the amounts spent on various equipment donations and in particular the £134,000 spent between 2018 and 2019 on bringing diagnostic and treatment Hysteroscopy services to St Cross.  Lastly David acknowledged that COVID-19 has had a profound impact on our income to date in 2020 which is likely to continue for some time. 

Dame Stella Manzie DBE, Chair of the UHCW NHS Trust, then gave a fulsome vote of thanks to the Charity for the contribution that we have made to the Hospital. Having visited the hospital on a number of occasions, she had been able to see at first hand how the hospital and the Charity are embedded in the community. Her talk drew a balance between the financial contribution that the community channels through the Friends and the service given by our volunteers which she felt contributed to the CQC's Good rating for the hospital. Dame Stella paid tribute to volunteers who have resumed service since July and noted that the staff in the hospital had been asking for them to return. She also thanked Willy Goldschmidt and the trustees for their stewardship before going on to re-state the importance the Trust places on the hospital and the facilities it provides for the community in Rugby and beyond.

Willy Goldschmidt thanked Dame Stella for what was one of the most detailed and thought through vote of thanks that the Charity has received in his time as Chairman of the Charity.

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. Trustees may be co-opted throughout the year. Click here to see the current office bearers and their roles.

Willy then introduced Dr Beth Harrison and Sam Neale who gave a presentation about the New Oncology and Haematology Day Unit being constructed at the Hospital of St Cross. Dr Harrison set out the background to the development which will re-purpose the "Old Mulberry Ward" to accommodate the re-location of the Haematology service as well as enabling Chemotherapy to be delivered for the first time at the Hospital of St Cross. Sam Neale then described, in detail, how the new unit will be configured and confirmed that the service will run between 0830-1630 every weekday whereas the current Haematology service is only available on Mondays and Fridays.

At the time of reporting, the timetable for the development is that the service will commence in February 2021 and that it will offer Rugby patients all cancer treatment (except inpatient stays and radiotherapy) close to home.

Willy welcomed the news that the project was now underway and thanked the ladies for their detailed presentation and the clarifications given. He said there had already been some great feedback about the news in the local press and no doubt more would follow as the project moves forward.

Kate and Willy then announced that Kitty Considine and Barbara Sear have become our latest Life Members of the Friends as they have completed 15 years of service. We hope that they and the other 27 active Life Members will be able to resume service as and when some of the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Unfortunately neither Kitty or Barbara were able to attend the webinar but they will receive commemorative certificates in due course.

Willy also recognised the immense contribution made by Karen Tomlinson in recruiting our volunteers and being one of the key contacts for our volunteers throughout the time since the last AGM.

Willy then went on to launch the Charity's 65th Anniversary Appeal, updates and details of which are published on the Sapphire Anniversary Appeal page of the website.

There was one question raised by one of the attendees who enquired how the news will be shared and Willy responded that details would be published here and we would offer Roadshows and discuss options for joint publicity with the UHCW Communications team.

Kate thanked all the panellists for their contributions to the AGM and closed the meeting.