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Wells Cathedral COVID Heroes Charity Abseil

Abseil from the iconic Wells Cathedral in celebration of keyworker heroes this autumn and raise vital funding for the SOS Africa, Wells Cathedral and The Forever Friends Appeal.

A very worthy addition to any post-lockdown bucket list, the 124ft freefall abseil challenge will return to Wells Cathedral on the weekends of the 25th/26th September and 2nd/3rd October 2021. Back by popular demand, following the successes of the 2019 event during which 350 brave fundraisers raised an incredible £60,000, this year abseilers will descend from the North-West tower dressed as their favourite “COVID Heroes.”

The SOS Africa Charity was founded by an 18-year-old gap student from Shepton Mallet in 2003 to fund the education of underprivileged South African children and now operates 4 education programmes supporting hundreds of children across the country. Since 2011, SOS Africa has organised charity abseil fundraising events from iconic landmarks across the UK including a Sponsored Abseil from Glastonbury Festival’s Pyramid Stage in 2014.

“The past 12 months have been hugely challenging for us all! Many of us have had to stay at home in isolation, away from friends and family whilst others have worked tirelessly on the front line to keep us all safe and well. We hope that this event will give everyone something to look forward to and the opportunity to support 3 causes close to many of our hearts: education, heritage and healthcare.”

“Our 2019 Wells Cathedral abseil was the most successful event in our charity’s 17-year history with hundreds of brave fundraisers traveling from across the UK to participate. The atmosphere throughout the weekends also drew large crowds who cheered each abseiler as they descended from the North-West Tower.”

“Since the 2019 event we have been inundated with requests to repeat the event and have decided to do so in honour of our brave keyworker heroes who have kept us all safe and well over the past 12 months. If you are interested in participating, please sign up early to avoid missing out.” Event Organiser/SOS Africa CEO, Matt Crowcombe.

The event is organised by SOS Africa and Aardvark Endeavours, and in addition, is raising funds in aid of Wells Cathedral and The Forever Friends Appeal – charity for the Royal United Hospitals Bath.

To participate, each abseiler is required to pay a £20 deposit to cover instructor’s fees and, between now and their allocated abseil slot, raise £100 per person.  This will be split between SOS Africa (60%), Wells Cathedral (20%) and The Forever Friends Appeal (20%).

To enter as an individual or team, please visit: https://www.sosafrica.com/wellscathedralcharityabseil

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M J Church Prize Draw – RUH Staff only

Local company M J Church have organised a Free prize draw for all Royal United Hospital staff to have the chance to win a fabulous selection of prizes.

Prizes include:

  • A weekend in a house in Devon (for up to 10 people)
  • Family season ticket for Bowood
  • Afternoon tea for 2 at the Royal Crescent Hotel
  • Sunday lunch for 2, with overnight stay at the Hartnoll Hotel
  • £100 voucher for Comptoir and Cuisine
  • Bath Rugby tickets
  • Plus many more!!

Please check back regularly to for an updated list of prizes.

This last year has seen our RUH staff working under intense pressure in difficult circumstances to care for patients. M J Church therefore want to say thank you to the staff at the RUH, and show them just how much the community appreciate them for caring for the people we love.

All Royal United Hospital staff are eligible to enter.

We are inviting RUH staff members to enter themselves and/or nominate a colleague of their choosing, who they think has gone above and beyond, during the recent crisis.

Entries are now open, and close at midday on Friday 30th April 2021.

Winners will be selected at random from the list of RUH staff members who have been nominated.

Thanks to the generosity of the local community, there is a fabulous selection of prizes on offer. M J Church and The Forever Friends Appeal would like to express their sincere thanks to everyone who has supported the Draw.

The Forever Friends Appeal would also like to say a heartfelt thank you to the team at M J Church, and in particular, Paula Church for her true passion for the hospital and her determination to support our staff through this difficult time.

  • Nominate yourself or a colleague to be in with the chance of winning

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Terms and conditions:

  • Entries are now open and close at midday on Friday 30th April 2021.
  • Entrants must be currently employed by the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust.
  • RUH staff members can either enter themselves and/or enter their colleague(s) to win.
  • All staff members entered will have only one opportunity to win.  This means that RUH staff members who are nominated more than once, will have only one entry put into the draw.
  • Entrants are required to meet the criteria specified.
  • Winners will be selected at random from the list of RUH staff entered.
  • Winners will be notified directly by The Forever Friends Appeal, shortly after the competition has ended.
  • All winners will be named on RUH workplace
  • If the potential winner cannot be contacted, the winner forfeits all rights to the prize and an alternative winner will be selected.
  • The Forever Friends Appeal charity reserves the right to suspend, cancel or modify the prize draw at any time and for any reason without notice.
  • Entry implies acceptance of these terms and conditions as final and binding.



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Bath business owner takes on Everest

Toby Martin will be taking part in our brand new Sofa to Summit challenge this Spring.

Toby lives in Trowbridge with his young family and runs Reside Letting Agency in central Bath. He will be climbing the height of Everest on his stairs and in the great outdoors, to give something back to the RUH.

Toby said: “The RUH holds a special place in our hearts at Reside due to the experience of my business partner and the founder of Reside, Ben Bower. In 2018, Ben’s wife Natasha gave birth to their son Brandon at just 28 weeks – more than 12 weeks early. It was a horrific time for Ben & Natasha, but the wonderful staff and state of the art facilities in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit meant that they could not have been better cared for. Brandon happily went home two months later – still in advance of his original due date!

“I recall visiting Ben, Natasha and Brandon on the NICU ward. We’d had a baby boy ourselves just a few months before; we were alarmed by what they were going through, but so reassured to see how well they were being looked after. Having heard so much about Brandon, Ben & Natasha’s experience, I’m very proud to be fundraising for the Forever Friends Appeal – no matter how small my contribution is, I am sure it will help to maintain the hospital’s incredible work.

When asked why he chose this challenge, Toby said: “The Sofa to Summit challenge initially caught my eye as a way to become more active whilst fundraising for a cause that I’m sure is close to everyone’s hearts right now. My plan for scaling Everest is currently very basic: 48 flights of stairs for 61 days. But as lockdown restrictions ease, I am hoping that Bath’s hilly surrounds will help to mix up the scenery and preserve the stair carpet.

“To my fellow hikers, I would say: isn’t it good to be doing something meaningful again?”

Events & Community Coordinator at The Forever Friends Appeal, Laura Cherry said: “It’s amazing to see Toby take on such a big challenge to say thank you for the care his friends received at the RUH. Over the last year, our hospital and its dedicated staff have been working under intense pressure in difficult circumstances to care for patients no matter what. Figuratively speaking, they have been moving mountains for us all, so it’s wonderful to see so many people like Toby climbing their own mountains to give something back.”

Join our Sofa to Summit team and register for free here.

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Patients and staff benefit from new virtual ward rounds

Doctors at the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust are using new technology to trial virtual ward rounds, reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19 by minimising footfall on the hospital’s wards.

Patients continue to receive the same level of care and support, but doctors can speak to patients while they are in their hospital bed by using one of a number of iPads that have been donated to the hospital from the Dyson Foundation, via the Forever Friends Appeal – the hospital’s charity.

While a small clinical team needs to be on the wards in person during ward rounds, these new ways of working are proving successful in reducing disruption as well as the number of people on the ward at any one time.

Caroline, a patient being treated for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) on William Budd ward, said: “It was especially nice to see the doctors’ faces without face masks. I thought that there might be quality issues but actually the sound and picture quality on the iPads was better than I expected and there were no delays in speaking.

“I think the virtual ward rounds probably save the doctors some time, but at no point in any of my consultations have I felt rushed. I still liked having someone in the room with me in person though.

“Definitely the biggest plus is that you can see the consultant’s whole face like the good old days – it makes a real difference.”

RUH Medical Director Bernie Marden said: “Virtual ward rounds have proved extremely successful with both patients and our staff.

“Our doctors and consultants can speak to patients without being on the ward and so can safely remove their masks, and patients have told us how they have appreciated being able to see their consultant’s face, which they wouldn’t normally be able to do if we were in full PPE by their bedside.

“Other clinical staff are able to join the rounds virtually too, so there’s only a small team of staff needed on the ward to physically conduct the ward round and operate the iPads, which are regularly cleaned and sanitised. “Despite their being less people on the wards, our patients still get the same excellent level of care provided by our clinical teams, just more of it takes place virtually.

“Minimising footfall on our wards, is another way of reducing the risk of spreading infection, along with our other infection prevention and control measures.

“We have also been able to improve the service we provide to our patients, as the patient can now see their test results and x-rays on the screen and have it explained to them by the consultant, something which is easier to do than before.

“At the RUH we are committed to quality improvement and innovation and are always looking at ways we can become more digital, when it will benefit our patients. This is not to say we’ll be losing that vital, human contact, which we know is so valued by our patients.

“We’re extremely grateful to Dyson for their donation, which has also meant we can use the iPads to help keep patients in touch with their families while visiting is suspended at the hospital.”

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Donation brings RITA to older people’s wards

Reminiscence therapy is helping elderly patients across the Royal United Hospitals Bath thanks to a charitable donation that has funded an additional device called RITA.

RITA stands for Reminiscence Interactive Therapy Activities and it enables patients to enjoy a range of games, listen to music, view old photographs and watch films, to help spark memories and start conversations on the wards.

RUH Dementia Coordinator, Astrid Siddorn said: “We would like to say a big thank you to Chris at Bath Woodburners and the other two companies. During these strange times, hospital stays for people with dementia have become even more difficult, especially without loved ones to visit.

“Your donation for a RITA enables us to support more patients as it reduce patents’ anxiety when they are out of their familiar environment, making patients’ stay in hospital more comfortable.”

RITA is mostly used on the hospital’s older people’s wards but can be used by anyone to help reduce anxiety and distress when someone is out of their familiar environment. In additional to the popular reminiscence apps, patients can play bingo, quizzes as well as watch historic speeches and archive BBC news footage.

Chris Clements, of Bath Woodburners said: “My wife, Cerys and I, were personally very impressed with the work of the RUH and the care received by Cerys’ father, Joe Francis, when he was admitted last year. He was cared for incredibly well in a hugely difficult time for hospitals.

“We have been a fortunate business fitting wood burning stoves for people in the community during the pandemic and this busy period has enabled us and two other respected businesses to work together on giving something back to the community.

“We heard about the RITA devices which seemed like a great idea and we know it will provide a valuable resource in helping those with dementia, their families and the staff at the RUH.”

There are now five RITA devices in the RUH and it is hoped that additional RITA devices can be funded to support more patients in the future.

If you would like to find out how you can make a difference to patients and staff at the RUH please click here

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“Remembering Together” those who have died during the Covid-19 pandemic

People across Bath and North East Somerset and Wiltshire whose loved ones have died during the coronavirus pandemic are being invited to join an online community service of remembrance. The Community Remembering Together Service will be broadcast on Wednesday 24 March at 7pm via the Bath Abbey YouTube channel and will be available here:


The event is organised jointly by the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, Dorothy House Hospice Care, Bath Abbey, SWALLOW Charity and Bath and North East Somerset Council.

RUH Lead Chaplain, the Reverend Narinder Tegally, said: “The service is intended to bring together those within the local community, who follow a professed faith or no faith, to remember all those who have died across Bath and North East Somerset, Wiltshire and Somerset at the RUH, at Dorothy House, in our local care homes and at home since the virus first arrived last year.

“As places of worship are currently closed for communal acts of devotion, the service will be pre-recorded and offered online. Not only is this an opportunity for people to remember those who have died during the Covid-19 pandemic, it is also a way for the wider community to be together, to grieve together and support all in the local community who have had their lives significantly changed by it.”

The Community Remembering Together Service will include:

  • An address by The Rt Revd Ruth Worsley, Bishop of Taunton
  • Personal stories from two bereaved families
  • Reading from Wayne De Leeuw, CEO of Dorothy House Hospice Care
  • Prayers, readings and poetry offered from different faith traditions and none.
  • During this service, people will be invited to light a candle at home
  • Music by the RUH musician in residence, and Christchurch and Bath Abbey Choirs
  • Closing words from Cara Charles Barks MBE, CEO of the RUH Bath
  • Song by SWALLOW – South West Action for Learning and Living Our Way Supporting people with learning disabilities

This time of remembrance will offer a central act of devotion and remembrance for all. It will focus upon the lighting of candles as a sign of hope and renewal as well as a time of celebrating the lives of those who have died and also giving thanks for all who have cared for them.

The Rt Revd Ruth Worsley, Bishop of Taunton, said: “This time last year we’d only just heard of Covid-19. Now, a year on, it’s totally turned our lives upside down, taking away so many things we’d previously taken for granted, but above all, taking away many people who are dear to us and our communities. It’s been made so much more difficult by us not being able to have proper funeral services. So many people have not been able to gather together with family and friends to say goodbye as they would have wished. Our hope is that the Remembering Together Service will provide some of that solace and sharing in loss that is part of bereavement.”

Imam Dr Mohammed Gamal Abdelnour, Imam of Bath Mosque, said: “Offering condolences and sharing in grief with the family and friends of the deceased are considered valued acts of charity in Islam. However, coronavirus has largely changed the way we grieve, the way we honour the demise of our loved ones, and also the way we express our condolences. All these manifestations doubled our grief and added salt to our wounds. Believing in God’s ultimate mercy and mysterious wisdom, I pray that the Remembering Together Service will help heal our griefs and revitalize the sense of togetherness that we have missed since the virus began Amin.”

Bath MP Wera Hobhouse said: “The pandemic has been a great challenge in our lives, and this is especially true for those who have lost loved ones. In addition to this, I know that many in our community are missing the chance to worship communally and draw comfort from being together. I am pleased to welcome news of this event, which will help to bring peace and comfort to those who have suffered the most.”

Cllr Dine Romero, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “As we approach the first anniversary since the first death from coronavirus in the UK, it’s only fitting that we should come together to remember those we have lost. Anyone who have been affected by the devastating effects of this terrible virus should join us and light a candle and remember loved ones. This is an anniversary that no-one wanted, but if we … … keep working together and doing the right things, we will drive the numbers down and get through these dark times.”

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Aiming high – shielding healthcare worker’s Everest challenge

A healthcare worker who has been shielding from COVID-19 for the past 12 months will be taking part in a virtual challenge to climb Mount Everest to raise funds in support of her colleagues and patients at the Royal United Hospitals (RUH) Bath.

Hannah Totterdell, from Keynsham, near Bristol, is set to take on The Forever Friends Appeal’s Sofa to Summit virtual challenge which will run for 61 days from 1 April to 31 May 2021.

She has already raised £65 and like all participants has pledged to raise at least £100 to help the charity provide support to areas where it’s needed most.

Hannah, Receptionist, RUH Audiology Department said: “I’m really looking forward to the challenge as it has already given me something to aim for and look forward to, which is so important for our mental health these days.

“I have a condition called Rheumatoid Arthritis, and the medication I take for this disease weakens my immune system, so therefore I’m classed as ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’, meaning I’ve been at home for the most part of the last year and don’t get much exercise.

“The challenge is ideal for me, as it’s something that I can do to raise funds for the RUH and can do it all from home whilst shielding. It will be a major challenge for me as climbing the stairs is sometimes not an easy task to embark on with my condition, but a challenge should be exactly that – challenging!

“I am very proud to work for the NHS and I have seen first-hand the impact donations have made to our hospital. It’s been more important than ever in the last year to be able to continue offering our service to our patients and make sure they can hear well, especially as people have to rely on telephone conversations and video calls when they can’t see their friends and family.”

So far, the charity has over 100 people set to climb the height of Mount Everest which is 8,848m using their own stairs or outdoors and it would like to encourage more people to sign up.

Karlie Evans, Events and Community Officer said: “There’s still time to register, it’s free and really quick and easy to do. This is a tough challenge but it’s going to be worth it. Our participants have many reasons for taking part such as to get fit and active, try something new but they all have a common goal which is the overwhelming desire to raise as much as they can to help support their local hospital.

“Everyone will get a free t-shirt and will receive resources to help them track their climb. They will also be invited to join a Facebook Group of fellow climbers.

“Anyone who raises £100 or more will receive an exclusive expedition patch and you can complete it any way that suits you – walking, running, cycling – just ensure you are following the social distancing guidelines at that time.”

Teams as well as individuals can take part and complete Everest’s 8,848 metres collectively. Anyone interested in taking part in the Soft to Summit virtual challenge are invited to sign up here

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Danny goes above and beyond

Danny who is our Supporter Care Assistant has run the equivalent distance of four marathons in just one month and raised £850 for our hospital to show his personal appreciation for the staff.

Danny O’Callaghan, aged 26 from Twerton in Bath set out to run 105 miles in February and finished the challenge, wearing a fancy dress nurse’s uniform to celebrate, on the last day of the month.

Danny said: “I’ve worked at the RUH for over 10 years and during this time I’ve had the opportunity and pleasure to work alongside some hard-working and friendly colleagues. I now work for hospital’s charity, The Forever Friends Appeal so I see how donations make such a huge difference to patients and staff, especially during the pandemic when we were delivering care packages to the wards.

“I’m very much a social person, but as I’ve been unable to meet up with friends I thought I’d combine my two biggest passions which are running and working at the RUH and attempt to run four marathons in February.

“Each week, I ran 26 miles and did it in all weathers, mostly after work. I’m so grateful to everyone who has sponsored me as I know that the funds will be put to good use.”

Danny’s commitment to supporting the hospital and his colleagues hasn’t stopped there – he also put himself forward to work as the Material Management Coordinator at the Large Vaccination Centre at Bath Racecourse.

He said: “I will always like do my very best to help others, so when I heard about the Vaccination Centre, I wanted to help. As I have many years’ experience of working in the hospital’s supplies department, I was over the moon when I was asked to oversee all the stock at the centre. I jumped at the opportunity, as this role was perfect for me as I knew I could really shine and make the biggest impact towards the work that was taking place at the Vaccination Centre.

“I set up a storeroom to allow quick and easy access for the staff, I also look after ordering, taking stock checks, and I make sure all the PPE stock and other supplies are there to enable the centre runs smoothly and I go there after work every day.

“It’s been truly amazing working in the Vaccination Centre seeing colleagues working together to achieve one simple goal. Everyone’s doing such a wonderful job with a massive smile on their face and for me when we get through this, I think this year will go down in history and knowing that I will be a part of that makes me incredibly proud!”

Deputy Head of Fundraising for The Forever Friends Appeal, Richard Gyde said: “Danny works incredibly hard and is a valued member of the fundraising team. His willingness to help support our hospital colleagues just shows how much of a wonderful, kind-hearted person he is and everyone is grateful for what he is doing to help.”

If you would like to show Danny your support in fundraising for the RUH you can make a donation on his Just Giving page

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Max completes his 100 lap challenge

Five year old Max from Bath has cycled 50km and raised £950 to date in memory of his Great Grandfather Ted, who sadly died aged 99 in February.

Thanks to Max and everyone who sponsored him, the funds he’s raised will be donated to our charity to benefit patients, their families and staff at the Royal United Hospitals Bath (RUH).

Before the February half term, Max and his classmates were set a challenge by their PE teacher to complete ‘100 laps of something’ during the school holiday. Max decided to cycle 100 laps around Alice Park in Bath and averaged 12 laps or 6km a day and finished the challenge on the seventh day by cycling the final 24 laps (12km).

Kitty Hodges, Max’s Mum said: “We’ve been so impressed by Max’s determination to cycle, whatever the weather. He only turned five in December and got his big bike at Christmas, so it is quite a feat for him.

“Max wanted to do the challenge and raise some money for the RUH, to thank the staff, who over many years, have looked after his Great Grandfather as well as other members of our family.

“The challenge also became a family effort too, Max’s dad Ed has planned a 100km cycle, his big sister Chloe, who is 8 years old, has been doing a 100 pull-up challenge and I have been walking and running throughout February to achieve 100km.

“We are so proud of them for taking on these challenges to support the hospital in memory of Great Grandfather Ted, who they adored. They’ve been utterly dedicated to completing the challenge and even though it’s been a tough few months, their resilience, willingness to do it and think of others, makes us very proud parents.”

Laura Cherry, Events and Community Coordinator said: “On behalf of everyone at The Forever Friends Appeal, we would like to say a huge thank you to Max and his family for their wonderful support. The funds raised will be put towards supporting areas with the greatest need at the hospital, both now and in the future.”

Thanks to the generosity from people like the Hodges family over the last year, we have been able to fund many projects above and beyond what the NHS can fund. Donations are helping to make a huge difference to provide practical and emotional support to RUH staff as well as patients and their families.

If you would like to show Max your support you can make a donation on his Just Giving page or if you would like to find out about the other ways you can help support the RUH click here

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Local businesses complete Make it Grow Corporate Challenge

We are delighted to announce that our Make It Grow Corporate Challenge which was organised for local businesses to help make a positive difference to staff and patients at the Royal United Hospitals Bath has been a resounding success.

Throughout the four month challenge it was wonderful to see eleven companies from across Bath and Wiltshire take part in numerous fundraising activities. Each company that signed up received a £20 starter fund at the beginning of October last year and the aim was to compete against each other and raise the most by the end of January 2021.

The participating companies were Frank & Moon, BMT, Buro Happold, Trowbridge Ford, Metro Bank in Bath, Puregym Bath, JSBS, Avon Rubber, Touchstone, Bridges Electrical, and Curious Universe.

Patsy Gould, Corporate Officer said: “I would like to thank everyone who took part in this year’s Make It Grow Corporate Challenge. There couldn’t have been a tougher year to take part in this challenge and yet we had nine new companies join us and many socially-distanced and virtual fundraising activities took place during what’s been a really tough time.

“Collectively the challenge has raised £17,500, which is a fantastic amount and will go towards funding projects that will make a difference to patients and staff at the RUH. We are very grateful for everyone’s commitment to our charity and the RUH.”

In recognition of the companies’ fundraising efforts, a number of awards were presented by the charity last week. The winners were:

  • BMT – won the Corporate Challenge Champion Award
  • Buro Happold’s Christmas advent window won the Best Event Award 
  • Curious Universe won the Small but Mighty Award 
  • Avon Rubber won the Big Business Award
  • Buro Happold won the Most Raised Overall Award  

Sarah from BMT said: “I really enjoyed being part of the challenge and to help give something back to the RUH has been really rewarding personally. This is especially poignant to me as fantastic care was given to my husband, mum, dad and father-in-law in the last year by a number of teams in the hospital.”

Kate Miller, Lead Group Co-ordinator at Buro Happold said: “We are proud to have been involved with The Forever Friends Appeal since it started out 20 years ago, including being the headline sponsor of Ted’s Big Bake Off. As well as supporting their charity events, we were also involved in the design and construction of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and no year has ever been more appropriate to support this amazing cause.”

The Make It Grow Corporate Challenge will be back later this year. It will run from 1 October to 31 January 2022. If you would like your company to be involved email forever.friends@nhs.net or for more details click here.

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