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Lifesaving equipment provides new service for patients at the RUH

The Forever Friends Appeal, the official NHS charity for the Royal United Hospitals Bath, with the support of the community have been able to purchase medical equipment that will introduce a brand new service to the hospital.

The portable equipment commonly known as a FEES machine, (Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing) will be used by the Speech and Language Therapists to test, assess and provide rapid diagnosis and treatment to patients with swallowing difficulties at their bedside. This will replace the existing service provided by the hospital’s X-Ray department, thus alleviating the movement and transportation of some of our most vulnerable patients.

With the help of a tiny camera, the team of therapists using the FEES at the patient’s bedside will be able to view the mouth and throat and evaluate whether food or liquid is escaping into the patient’s airway and treat immediately, reducing the risk of infection and the need for feeding tubes. Patients who have been affected by a Stroke, Parkinson’s, Cancer, or even COVID-19 along with many other illnesses will benefit from the FEES machine.

Richard Gyde, Deputy Head of Fundraising, The Forever Friends Appeal said: “This equipment is currently only available at a small number of trusts and thanks to charitable support, this service can now be rolled out across the hospital enhancing the service our therapists can provide.

“On behalf of the charity, I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported this Appeal through donations, participating in the Big Give Christmas Challenge, our Local Solicitors who generously donated their fees and time in support of RUH Will Month, and the generous charitable support from The Friends of the RUH which helped us complete the Appeal.

Catherine Crawley, Clinical Specialist Speech and Language Therapist – Neuro-trauma said: “The Speech & Language team are overwhelmed by the delivery of the new machine and we are excited to be able to provide a first class service that gives rapid assessments at our patients’ bedside, enabling us to give a much quicker diagnosis and treatment.

“We plan to train more staff and roll the service out to assess patients across the hospital including those in Critical Care – our most vulnerable patients.  We will be looking forward to updating you all on the impact of this equipment, the service it provides and the ways in which it has improved patient care.

“On behalf of my team I would like to thank you everyone who has donated and been part of the fundraising efforts.”

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It’s Dying Matters Week

Dying Matters – are you in a good place?

This Dying Matters Awareness Week, (10-16 May), the palliative care team at the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust is encouraging families to think about what is important to them at the end of life, to talk about it and to plan for it, so that we are better prepared to support our loved ones when they are nearing end of life.

The focus of Dying Matters Week 2021 is the importance of being in a good place to die. Recent years have seen a change in where people die, with more people dying at home and out of hospital. The pandemic over this last year has seen this number increase even more.

Helen Meehan, RUH Lead Nurse for Palliative Care and End of Life, said: “There is no right or wrong place to die – it will be different for everyone. But it is important for families to think about it, to talk about it and to plan for it.  We want people of all ages to be in a good place when they die – physically, emotionally and with the right care in place. Getting there means having some important conversations about what matters to the individual and their family in relation to end of life care, dying and bereavement.

“Not many of us express a wish for where we might die, many of us would wish to be at home if asked, but for many it is hospital where people are cared for in the last days of life.

“The COVID pandemic has brought so many challenges – especially caring for those at the end for life and their families, but we have such a responsibility for ensuring that we provide compassionate, supportive and dignified care at this time.”

End of life care at the RUH, which has been rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission, is supported by the RUH’s charity The Forever Friends Appeal. It has recently funded Memory Boxes supplied to every ward to help create special memories and keepsakes for patients nearing end of life and their families. It also supplies bereavement bags, providing a sensitive way of returning personal belongings to family members. The design on the bags uses the butterfly symbol which is used across the hospital to identify priorities of care. More information and details of how to donate to the Butterfly Fund can be found here.

Another initiative is the Compassionate Companion Service, in partnership with Dorothy House Hospice Care and funded by RUH’s charity, The Forever Friends Appeal with a grant from the Sperring Trust. This service enables specially-trained volunteers to offer support, compassionate listening, comfort and companionship to patients in their last days of life at the hospital.

The Chaplaincy team has helped to arrange marriages at short notice under a special license for patients nearing the end of life. The RUH palliative care team has also created special wedding boxes that contain bunting, fairy lights, ceramic hearts as a keepsake gift, flowers, bubbles and a wedding card, which the wards can request to support the marriage of a couple when time is so precious.

For more information visit the Dying Matters website.

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Frome Lions tackle Everest in virtual event

Since 1st April, local organisation Frome Lions, have been climbing the height of Mount Everest on their stairs and their local hills, as part of our Sofa to Summit virtual challenge. They’ve got until 31 May to reach the peak at 8,848m tall, and have been raising vital funds for patients, families and staff at RUH Bath.

Frome Lions Club have regularly supported The Forever Friends Appeal over the past 20 years. This year, 6 club members decided now was the time to show their support once again, after what everyone at the RUH Bath has gone through over the last year – in what became the most challenging in year in NHS history.

Club member Greg Wood said, “The Everest challenge appealed to all of us for two main reasons. One being that most of us have used and benefited from the services provided at the RUH. Second of all, we are all keen to take on this challenge to improve our own health and wellbeing. Three of us are retired and three are still working, mainly from home.

We are all enjoying taking part in the event. One of our members, Steve, has even had the company of his two granddaughters Darcie and Amalie every day as he walks around the hills of Frome!”

The 6 Lions taking part in 2 teams (socially distanced of course!) are  – Steve Cantrell, Adam Kotyrba, Bev Windley, Greg Wood, Sean McCabe & Chris Bailey-Green.

If you would like to support their Everest climb, you can donate by visiting https://foreverfriendsappeal.enthuse.com/pf/frome-lions-1 and https://foreverfriendsappeal.enthuse.com/pf/frome-lions-2.”

The Forever Friends Appeal raises vital funds to support a range of innovative projects and capital redevelopments. Charitable funds raised by the local community unlocks the very best in modern health care for their catchment population of more than half a million people across Bath, Somerset and Wiltshire – going above and beyond the remit of the NHS.

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Bath Half Marathon Postponement Announcement

The organisers of the Bath Half Marathon announced today with regret that this year’s event has been postponed to 13th March 2022, due to the national COVID restrictions for large-scale events plus planned infrastructure projects on the highways network in the City this autumn.

Message from the Bath Half website reads:

“With just over 4 months now before our event date we still do not have clarification from Government on key factors such as whether social distancing will be required, whether spectators will be permitted and whether participants will be required to provide certification of COVID status.

These factors will fundamentally effect how we deliver our event, and without this clarification we do not feel we have sufficient time now to plan our arrangements, or to carry out proper consultations with the council and other stakeholders, or to tender and place the necessary contractors’ orders.

We also feel that the restrictions that are likely to remain on large scale public events this year will change the community character of our event and prevent us from delivering the Bath Half Marathon in the way our runners expect.

Furthermore, following consultation with B&NES Council, we have also been informed that access to the highways for the event will be compromised by a number of infrastructure projects planned this autumn, including the unavoidable repairs to Cleveland Bridge, which were postponed in 2020, and which is a key part of the diversion route around the city during the event road closures.

We are particularly disappointed for the thousands of local runners who regularly take part in the Bath Half Marathon, and for the impact this postponement will have on our 80 local charity partners and local voluntary groups and well as our national charity partners who will lose out on critical fundraising at this challenging time.

It’s heart-breaking to have to postpone our Bath Half Marathon for a second time and we know that many people will be disappointed by this decision. Sadly the combination of uncertainty surrounding continued COVID restrictions for large-scale events and planned infrastructure projects on the highways network in the City this autumn have left us with no choice. But with the support of our entrants, community and partners we’re determined to return in March 2022 with a celebration for our 40th anniversary.

We will be contacting registered entrants today with details of their deferment and refund options.

We will also notify our charity partners, commercial partners, contractors and volunteer groups about arrangements for the event on 13th March.”

Andrew Taylor – Bath Half Marathon Race Director – Running High Events


“Bath & North East Somerset Council recognises the significant role the Bath Half plays in the city’s calendar of events, inspiring fitness and wellbeing within the city, its importance to charities as the largest regional fundraising event, and the boost it gives to the local hospitality economy. We look forward to the return of the event in March 2022”.

Councillor Richard Samuel, acting leader of Bath & North East Somerset


The Bath Half Marathon is the largest sporting and community event in the city and the largest charity fundraising event in the South-West raising £30 million pounds for charity in the 20 years since Running High Events took over management of the event. Cancellation of this year’s Bath Half will have a substantial impact on the event’s 140 charity partners who stand to lose around £2.5 million pounds this year in fundraising, at a time when demand on the charity sector and the cost of service delivery have both significantly increased, due to the COVID pandemic.

“The Bath Half Marathon is an incredibly important event for local charities, not only in terms of fundraising – around £1 million pounds is raised each year for local charities within Bath & North East Somerset (out of a total of £2.5 million pounds raised by the event) – but also in raising public awareness of our work. The funds raised for local charities through the Bath Half are critical to our services in our community, and now with the challenges presented by the COVID-19 outbreak these funds are even more essential to keep our vital services going”

Joint statement from local charities : Bath RUH Forever Friends Appeal, Dorothy House Hospice Care and Jamie’s Farm


Events like the Bath Half provide an invaluable role in promoting physical fitness and an active lifestyle, a key to the recovery from the COVID pandemic. The Bath Half provides an inspiration and gateway into the UK’s most popular sport, enjoyed by 7.5 million regular runners in England, including 25,000 regular runners in the Bath area. It also provides a focus and motivation for regular runners, and a pathway for elite competition.

“Studies have consistently shown that outdoor activities such as running are very low risk in terms of COVID-19 transmission, and that organised outdoor running events including parkrun are extremely safe with the correct measures in place.

The overwhelming benefits of exercise and physical fitness, in reducing the risk of serious outcome from COVID-19 and a range of non-communicable diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and dementia, plus mental health benefits, are well known.

Andrew Taylor – Race Director – Running High Events

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RUH heroes exhibitions

Two new exhibitions celebrating the heroes of the RUH have gone on display at the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust.

The first, called ‘Heroes of the RUH’ is a legacy of Captain Sir Tom Moore who raised millions for NHS Charities Together and highlighted the incredible work that NHS staff do across the country. It comprises a series of photographic portraits with written stories about the people behind the masks and uniforms.

Rhyannon Boyd, Head of Fundraising said: “We are proud of all our staff, they are truly inspiring people and are going above and beyond every day to care for their patients. We wanted to show and celebrate our remarkable staff and share their experiences of the pandemic.

“In this exhibition you’ll read about the nurses who provide care around the clock, the surgeons who save lives, the therapists who help get us back on our feet, the cleaners who keep our hospital clean and the other dedicated staff who are keeping our hospital going, during this difficult time.

“It also gives patients and staff the opportunity to get to know the people behind the masks, or in our eyes, the hero behind the uniform, no one can resist walking past without stopping to take a look.”

The exhibition has been funded by NHS Charities Together and is just one of the many ways that the RUH’s charity is supporting staff and patient wellbeing. The charity has also funded staff care packs, communication devices to help patients stay in touch with loved ones, and longer-term psychological support for staff.

Rhyannon said: “We’re delighted to see the staff photos and stories on display as they originally featured in our Christmas Campaign last year which raised a significant amount and funded many projects at the RUH. It was a colleague of ours, Richard Howman who took these incredible photos.

The second exhibition is a silent auction, called Art for Heroes. It originated at the Abbey Hotel’s Art Bar in the centre of Bath and is a tribute to RUH staff. The hotel’s closure during COVID-19 presented an ideal opportunity to transfer the exhibition to the RUH, which the hotel supports.

Tony Smith, Exhibtions Manager, Art at the Heart said: “The exhibition is a fantastic showcase of work by local artists, including Royal photographer Joe Short and Bath’s ever popular ‘Pete the Street’, Peter Brown, together with some new works not seen before. All work is for sale with 40% of all sales donated to RUH staff health and wellbeing projects There will also be an online catalogue of all the works on display.

“If you would like to see the work and place a bid, visit: www.jumblebee.co.uk/ruhheroesartauction2.”

Both exhibitions are in the main central corridor of the hospital and will be there for three months. As visiting restrictions remain in place at the hospital, only staff and patients who have appointments can visit them.

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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

The Forever Friends Appeal would like to say a heartfelt thank you to local company M J Church who have organised a Free prize draw for Royal United Hospital staff.

Throughout the month of April, RUH staff were invited to enter themselves and/or nominate a colleague to be in with the chance to win an incredible selection of prizes.

Entry to the Draw is now closed.  Winners will be selected at random and will be contacted from Wednesday 5th May.

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.

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, including the following organisations:



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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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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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