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Work gets underway on new Dyson Cancer Centre at the RUH

A groundbreaking event today, Friday 23 July, marked the official start of construction work for the new Dyson Cancer Centre at the Royal United Hospitals’ (RUH) Combe Park site. The new Centre will provide a cancer services hub for half a million people in the South West.

Once complete, the Dyson Cancer Centre will bring together the majority of the RUH’s cancer services, including research, under one roof, providing oncology, chemotherapy and radiotherapy services and a 22-bed inpatient ward.

Cara Charles-Barks, Chief Executive of the RUH said: “It’s fantastic to see work get underway on this truly special building, which will make such a difference for our community. We’ve worked closely with patients, staff and those with an interest in cancer services to design the Dyson Cancer Centre. It will be a nurturing and therapeutic environment where our staff can continue to provide the highest quality care and our patients and their loved ones can receive all the support they need in one purpose designed building.”

Representatives of patients, staff and construction partner Kier as well as key fundraisers the Forever Friends Appeal and Macmillan Cancer were on site to mark the occasion.

Sir James Dyson paid a visit to the RUH earlier in the year, as demolition work to prepare the site for the new Centre drew to a close. Sir James and Deirdre Dyson have a strong connection to the RUH having welcomed two of their children, Sam and Jake, at the hospital. The James Dyson Foundation contributed £4m to the overall cost of the new Centre.

Sir James Dyson, Founder and Chief Engineer at Dyson said: “The Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care demonstrated the very significant effect that design and architecture can have on the recovery of patients. The bright, well designed spaces quickly proved their value to babies, something that we hope to replicate in the new Dyson Cancer Centre.

“Cancer is the most terrible of diseases, but by bringing cutting edge technology, design features, natural light and therapeutic green spaces, we hope this new building will support patients, families and staff through harrowing times.”

In addition to the generous donation from the Dyson Foundation, the RUH’s Forever Friends Appeal raised a further £6m. Rhyannon Boyd, Head of Fundraising said: “We are thrilled to see these works starting and we are extremely grateful to each and every one of the 8,500 supporters who have helped raise funds for the Dyson Cancer Centre, we couldn’t have done it without them.”

The new Centre will also include a specially designed Macmillan Wellbeing Hub. Richard Pugh, Macmillan Cancer Head of Partnerships Wales & South West said: “The Hub will be a non-clinical, calming space, offering practical and emotional support to people living with cancer. It will be there for everyone – from people with cancer to their carers and their families. It will help them every step of the way through cancer from diagnosis, during treatment, in recovery, and at the end of life.”

The remainder of the funding for the Dyson Cancer Centre will be provided by the government.

Health Minister Jo Churchill said: “Delivering cancer care is, and has been a top priority, throughout the pandemic and we remain committed to delivering on our NHS Long Term Plan to save 55,000 more lives from cancer every year by 2028.

“I’m delighted work is beginning on this new cancer facility at the RUH which draws together services and includes a Macmillan Wellbeing Hub, improving NHS cancer services for half a million patients in the South West for many years to come.

“The centre is part of the biggest hospital building programme in a generation, which we’re funding to deliver 40 new hospitals by 2030.”

The groundbreaking event marked the next major milestone in a significant programme of work to transform services and facilities located on the older, northern part of the RUH’s site. The Trust is once again working with construction partner Kier who have played a significant role in the changing face of the RUH.

David Snell, Strategic Healthcare Director at Kier Regional Building Western & Wales said:

“We are delighted to continue our work with the RUH, who we have worked with since 2013. Over that time we have worked closely with the Trust on the phased redevelopment of the hospital, including delivering the William Herschel building – a new modern pathology lab and mortuary, the Forbes Fraser Pharmacy and the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases (RNHRD) and Brownsword Therapies Centre which opened in September 2019.

The groundbreaking date also marked 10 years to the day since another outstanding facility opened at the RUH, the Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care, part funded by the James Dyson Foundation.

Since opening, the award-winning neonatal centre has cared for around 500 babies and families a year, in surroundings that provide a beneficial healing environment for babies and reduce stress levels experienced by their parents. The difference has been demonstrated by the research undertaken comparing the old and new units.

After seeing the success this considered architecture had on medical care, James Dyson was motivated to support RUH with this approach for cancer services. Hear from Sir James and RUH staff following the James Dyson Foundation’s visit to RUH earlier this year here.

Those interested in the new Dyson Cancer Centre can find out more at a virtual event on Wednesday 28 July where there will be the opportunity to hear from some of the team involved in the project and have any questions answered. Email: ruh-tr.capitalprojects@nhs.net if you would like to attend.

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Celebrating 10 years of the Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care

In July 2011, Royal United Hospitals opened the Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care.  A Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) designed to provide a beneficial healing environment, reducing stress levels experienced by the babies and their parents.  Since opening, the award winning centre has cared for around 500 babies and families a year and the hospital is celebrating 10 years of supporting families like Taya’s.


“We will forever be grateful to all the NICU staff at the RUH.  If it wasn’t for these superheroes, our boys and I simply wouldn’t be here today.”

Mum of twin boys, Taya, was born at the hospital’s original NICU 32 years ago. Taya was the second smallest baby on the Unit at the time, weighing just 1 pound 9 ounces and born prematurely at six months. Thanks to the care of RUH staff in 1989, Taya has been able to start her own family and her twin boys Harvey and Charlie were born earlier this year.

Recalling their NICU journey, Taya said: “Our pregnancy was going well until a scan at 29 weeks picked up on an abnormality; late twin-to-twin transfusion. This meant there was a growth difference between our boys and Charlie’s placenta was growing weaker. Over the next few days, I developed early signs of pre-eclampsia and so we were quickly transferred to the labour ward and then the delivery suite.

Harvey and Charlie were born at 29+5 weeks on Tuesday 12th January 2021 at St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol, weighing only 3 and 2.5 pounds. We were soon transferred to NICU at the RUH where they had 24/7 care from the incredible team and specialised treatment for their breathing problems.

Being a NICU parent is a unique experience full of highs and lows – we were fortunate to spend 10 weeks watching our boys’ progress each day as they grew in strength, we were the lucky ones, because sadly this isn’t always the case for every baby in NICU.

The main thing that helped us get through it was all the care and support we received.  Not just from the amazing NICU staff and counsellors, but also the special bonds that we made with other parents. This was especially important during Covid. Having people we could relate to was so valuable and helped make this difficult journey a bit easier, as well as was a huge distraction from everything that was happening in the world.”

Even though the NICU team were healthcare staff, they became like family to Taya and Joel. The family’s first Mother’s Day was on the Unit – where the nurses even surprised them and all the other mothers with cards from Harvey and Charlie and the rest of the children in NICU.

They were also involved in their children’s care from the very beginning, with support from kangaroo care, to begin feeding and learn baby-safe CPR. The Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care benefits from parent accommodation, allowing parents like Taya to live on the Unit to aid this transition and reassure that their children are in safe hands.

Reflecting on their time in NICU, Taya said, “Covid put an extra pressure on all new parents, but we always knew we were in the best place possible. The care provided in the Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care is unique – it’s really very special. It was a rollercoaster of emotions and we owe so much to the team for looking after our whole family so well and for sending us safel

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Sign up for the Walk of Life 2021

Take part in the Walk of Life event this year on Saturday 18 September and show your support for your local hospital.

The popular walking marathon event is organised by the Royal United Hospitals Bath charity, The Forever Friends Appeal. After a year of supporting the hospital from a distance, this is an amazing opportunity to be part of an event and make your steps matter for the Royal United Hospitals Bath (RUH Bath).

There are three options to choose from – either walk the full 26.2 miles from Bishop Cannings near Devizes, along the Kennett and Avon canal to the finish line at the Holbourne Museum in Bath. Alternatively, there’s the 10 mile distance, where you can join the walkers in Bradford on Avon in the afternoon. This year, a virtual marathon event is being offered too, where you can walk the full 26.2 miles your way across the month of September.

Kerri Gardner, who is donning her walking boots to take on the 10 mile walk this September, is walking to say thank you for the care her dad received in 2016.  Kerri said: “My dad was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at RUH in November 2016. He was diagnosed with Bowel Cancer/Sepsis and after having an operation to have a stoma bag, he had a heart attack and sadly passed away on 11th December.

The support the ICU gave my dad and my family was absolutely amazing and we will never be able to thank them enough. They allowed us to stay by my dad’s side and the very minimal time we did leave him they accepted our calls, passed on messages and generally cared. The staff there did everything they could to keep my dad comfortable and to treat his illness and I will never forget the compassion and understanding they showed him when he was clearly scared.

Personally I don’t do a lot of walking so the Walk of Life will be a challenge for me, but not as big as the challenge the staff at the RUH face daily. I urge anyone no matter how big or small support the RUH where possible as you never know when you may need their support.”

Last year’s virtual Walk of Life marathon event raised £40,000 for the hospital. That money has helped fund a number of projects including the charity’s RUH Cancer Care campaign for the new Dyson Cancer Centre, as well as support wards and department in the hospital.

Laura Pearce, Events and Community Manager said: “With two months until the event, we really can’t wait to welcome people back to our annual Walk of Life event. We are hoping to see hundreds of people join us and those who complete the challenge will receive a unique finisher medal.

Like every charity, we’ve adapted due to COVID-19, so there will be a few changes to the event, including COVID-19 measures to keep everyone safe and offering a virtual marathon for those who want to take part in their own time.”

The Walk of Life event is open to everyone and costs £15 to register. Participants are asked to raise a minimum £100 for any ward or department at the RUH close to your heart, or one of the charity’s major campaigns.

In return, The Forever Friends Appeal will provide walkers with lots of fundraising and training support, as well as complimentary refreshments and treats, as well as a medal and plenty of finish line celebrations.

To find out more about the Walk of Life and to sign up, visit www.foreverfriendsappeal.co.uk. You can donate to Kerri’s fundraising page here.

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HomeLets joins The Forever Friends Appeal as Corporate Principal Partner

Following the much-anticipated completion of the Cancer Care Campaign fundraising target of £10m, The Forever Friends Appeal is delighted to welcome HomeLets on board as Principal Corporate Partner following a generous donation to the Dyson Cancer Centre.

The Dyson Cancer Centre will bring the majority of cancer services, including research, under one roof, providing oncology, chemotherapy and radiotherapy services and a 22-bed inpatient ward. We are working with the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England & Improvement team on overall timescales so that the hospital can open for patients as early as possible, currently scheduled for autumn 2023.

A well-known Bath company and long-term supporter, HomeLets first began working with the Appeal in 2017 as part of the ‘Be a Brick’ project. Since then, HomeLets has been involved in sponsoring the hugely popular 2018 Walk of Life event and the Hope Ball in 2019.

The Cancer Care Campaign has always been of significant importance to Marcus Arundell, Managing Director of HomeLets, after his late Mother and founder of HomeLets, Caroline Arundell passed away after a short battle with cancer in 2014. A former nurse, Caroline was recognised for her caring nature in her roles across both medicine and property.

Marcus Arundell, Managing Director at HomeLets said: “HomeLets is proud to be able to continue our ongoing support for The Forever Friends Appeal, and in particular the all-new Dyson Cancer Centre at the Royal United Hospitals (RUH) Bath.

This is a cause incredibly close to all our hearts. The new Dyson Cancer Centre will make a huge difference to patients and their families as they navigate the challenges presented by Cancer diagnosis and treatment, as well as facilitating all-important future research.

The HomeLets team very much look forward to following the Centre’s development and celebrating its key milestones and completion over the coming years.”

Rhyannon Boyd Head of Fundraising at The Forever Friends Appeal said: “We’ve been delighted to work with Marcus and the HomeLets team for a number of years and are very appreciative of their continued support. We know of the incredible impact this donation will have in treating and caring for patients, their families and staff of the Dyson Centre for years to come. We thoroughly look forward to working with HomeLets as our newest Principal Corporate Partner.”

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Marjorie, 82 to jump out of a plane for hospital charity

Former teacher and eighty two year old local resident Marjorie take to the skies to raise much needed funds for The Forever Friends Appeal – the official NHS charity for the Royal United Hospitals Bath (RUH Bath).

Marjorie, part of the Frome community, will be leaping 13,000ft from a plane on Sunday 4th July to show her appreciation for her local NHS, RUH Bath.

Marjorie said, “I have wanted to do a Skydive for a long time and I am delighted that this opportunity has arisen. I used to fly a golden eagle called Samson in Devon and the thought of being able to do, for a little while, what he could do all the time was very tempting.

I wanted to support the RUH because we all depend on it. I received treatment at the hospital a few years ago and the staff made everything easy, simple and painless – it was fantastic.

We have learnt to appreciate our NHS more over the last year because of the Covid crisis. We have seen what the staff are doing and now I think everyone is more appreciative and wants to contribute towards the RUH.

Laura Cherry, Events and Community Coordinator, The Forever Friends Appeal said, “I would like to say a huge thank you and good luck to all our skydive participants. We cannot thank you all enough for taking on this huge challenge to support the hospital.

Wonderful supports and donors like Marjorie allow us to fund projects that make a real difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients cared for by the RUH Bath. Thank you all so much.”

The annual Forever Friends Skydive day will see 15 brave fundraisers take the leap of faith. The team have raised over £10,000 so far.

If you’re interested in future skydiving opportunities for the RUH Bath, please get in touch with the team on ruh-tr.fundraising@nhs.net

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Forever Friends Appeal reaches £10m Dyson Cancer Centre funding target

The Forever Friends Appeal is celebrating reaching its £10m funding target towards supporting the much-anticipated Dyson Cancer Centre at the Royal United Hospitals Bath
NHS Foundation Trust (RUH).

Thanks to the kindness and compassion of thousands of supporters, this milestone achievement comes just as demolition work to clear the way for the new Centre draws to a close at the RUH’s Combe Park site, ahead of construction work starting in summer 2021. Cara Charles Barks, Chief Executive of the RUH said, “Thank you to our local community for being so kind, committed and generous with your time, as well as your giving. This amount is a significant contribution towards the overall cost of the new Centre, and this incredible achievement will help transform the care we provide for patients, families and carers.”

Like the award-winning Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care, the Dyson Cancer Centre has been designed with input from patients and staff to offer an exceptional facility with a therapeutic environment.

RUH Cancer Lead Nurse, Caroline Gilleece, said: “Thank you to everyone that has joined us in raising funds so that we can create something very special, above and beyond what the NHS alone could have provided.”

Rhyannon Boyd, Head of Fundraising at the hospital charity said: “We’re extremely grateful to the patients, families, supporters and NHS staff who’ve contributed – by donating, walking, running, baking and much more. It’s an outstanding achievement and we’re very proud of everyone that has been part of this. We will continue to raise funds for cancer services at the RUH through our charity activities to help patients receive the best possible care.”

The Dyson Cancer Centre will bring the majority of cancer services, including research, under one roof, providing oncology, chemotherapy and radiotherapy services and a 22-bed inpatient ward. We are working with the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England & Improvement team on overall timescales so that the hospital can open for patients as early as possible, currently scheduled for autumn 2023.

Cancer charity Macmillan Cancer Support has invested an additional £1.5 million into the Dyson Cancer Centre to fund a purpose-built patient support centre at its heart.

The Macmillan Wellbeing Hub will offer advice and support to patients and their families at every step of their cancer journey. You can find out more about the Macmillan Wellbeing Hub, or make a donation here www.macmillan.org.uk/macmillanwellbeinghub Newly-decorated hoardings on the RUH site will screen busy construction work from patients, staff and visitors, but a dedicated webcam will be set up so you can keep an eye on how the project is progressing online at www.ruh.nhs.uk/DysonCancerCentre The remainder of the funding for the Dyson Cancer Centre will be provided by the government as part of the commitment to build 40 new hospitals across the country by 2030, as part of the biggest hospital building programme in a generation.

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Blue sky thinking for RUH patients

Radiotherapy patients can now enjoy relaxing views of a sunny blue sky while they wait for their appointments, thanks to a new ‘window’ which has been installed in the ceiling of the outpatient waiting area.

Instead of a real window, the sunny scene is actually created by using a series of light panels that create a realistic image and is all thanks to patient Allan Sinclair, who donated them to the department.

Allan, who has just completed radiotherapy treatment for prostate cancer at the RUH, said:

“It was just my way of giving back something to the staff here who have looked after me so well.

“I just can’t thank the staff enough. From the reception staff, to the radiographers and the consultants, the care I’ve received has been second to none.

“At the RUH you are treated like an individual, you’re not just a number, and that’s what makes the staff here so special.”

Allan owns the company Sky Inside, which provides sky ceilings and artificial windows to healthcare companies and NHS Trusts throughout the country. The Radiotherapy department isn’t the
only one at the RUH to have such eye-catching features – departments including intensive care and cardiology also have similar windows.

Allan said: “It’s a very simple and effective way to brighten up a waiting room or gloomy corridor and can really help lift your mood.”

Lisa Tolson, Radiotherapy Service Manager, said: “We’re so grateful to Allan for such a wonderful gesture. The new window really brightens up the waiting area and it’s already receiving lots of positive feedback from our patients and staff.”

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Patients and staff benefit from new virtual ward rounds

Thanks to charitable donations, doctors have been 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
by the Dyson Foundation.

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.

RUH Medical Director Bernie Marden said:
“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.

“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.

“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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Cardiac equipment keeps patients hearts pumping

Every year we are always astounded by the generosity of our patients, relatives, staff and members of the public who devote their time and effort to fundraising for our hospital.

Thanks to this incredible support, we have recently been able to purchase a new Intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) that will benefit people treated at the RUH with heart disease.

An IABP is a mechanical device used to support the heart function of acutely ill patients. It is inserted into the aorta (the body’s main artery) and pumps in rhythm with the heart, to increase blood flow and cardiac output, whilst reducing pressure on the heart. It can also be used for high risk patients receiving treatment for narrowed and blocked coronary arteries.

The life- saving machine will be used by the RUH’s Cardiac team in the Catheter labs, enabling haemodynamic support to their patients, in order to continue with their emergency procedures. It will also support patients who may have to travel to other hospitals if further therapy such as cardiac surgery is required.

Helen Twemlow, principle physiologist for the Cardiac Centre said

“This specialist machine, though not small is transportable and significantly smaller than the previous unit making all aspects of emergency care easier at a very stressful time.

“The nursing, medical and technical team are extremely humbled and very impressed with the public’s incredible fundraising efforts. Having the latest equipment enables the cardiology team to continue providing the very best cardio-circulatory support to their critically ill patients.”

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Volunteer wins RUH award

We are so lucky to have lots of selfless, caring volunteers who make a huge difference to patients and staff at the RUH. When we heard that Keith Getheridge, one of our volunteers had won the Trust’s prestigious Volunteer of the Year Award we were so pleased as he has really gone above and beyond to support us this past year.

Keith is a fantastic ambassador not only for The Forever Friends Appeal but the RUH, and he continues to spread the good work that the hospital does out in the local community, inspiring many
others to fundraise and volunteer to help make a real difference.

Keith first became involved with our charity after the loss of his wife in March 2019. He and his family set up a tribute fund in honour of Wendy to fundraise towards the new Dyson Cancer Centre in her memory. With the wonderful support of family and friends, he has taken on many fundraising challenges to raise vital funds and also raise awareness for the appeal and the RUH. From running marathons to organising pub quizzes, cricket matches and much more, to date their fundraising efforts have raised an incredible £25,000.

On top of this, Keith signed up in May 2020, through the NHS volunteering initiative and took on a volunteer housekeeping role on the Surgical Short Stay ward. He clocked up an amazing 576 hours, working from 7:30am to 1.30pm, four days a week and even came in to help cover holidays.

If you were to meet Keith, you would soon realise he does everything with a huge smile on his face. No task is too small or great, and we are so thankful for his support and he really does deserve winning this Volunteer of the Year award.

Keith said: “I feel very proud and honoured to have won this award, not only for me, but also for all my family, friends and others who have contributed and hopefully will continue to do so towards the new Cancer Centre.

Wendy was passionate about the new centre and through my volunteering and fundraising, I’m only giving something back to say thank you for the wonderful help and care she received at the RUH. She’d be very proud as well.”

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