A History of the Friends

Prior to the existence of the NHS there had been a community hospital operating in Blandford for over a century.

The hospital and its services were largely supported by voluntary donations made by the great and the good of the local community, in our case this included among others, the Portman family. Prior to the introduction of the NHS patients were required to pay for treatment, however the residents of Blandford Forum and the surrounding villages, with the help of the Blandford & District Hospital League, had devised many ways for any members of the public to join voluntary subscription societies that would cover these costs in an emergency.

Friends of Blandford Hospital

In July 1948 the National Health Service (NHS) with it maxim of health care ‘free at the point of consumption’ came into being. At a stroke the community hospital was absorbed into the NHS and it was decided by supporters of the old ‘League of’ support groups that the hospital would benefit from a similar support network otherwise known as “The League of Friends for the Hospital” so at a meeting chaired by Viscount Portman on 23rd November 1948 in Blandford Town Hall a committee was formed under the leadership of Colonel Carrington Sykes.

The ‘Friends of Blandford Hospital’ was  formed.

Many of the supporters joined the new group and soon got down to raising funds. Its first fund raising effort was to provide items the hospital required.  A financial target of £25 to £30 was set and soon achieved.

The voluntary group continued to thrive and grow over the years under the expert guidance of distinguished residents including generations of the Portman and Woodhouse families as well as continued support of the townspeople and folk from the surrounding villages covered by the hospital services.

Over the years the name was changed to ‘The Friends of Blandford Community Hospital’, and a motto ‘We make a difference’ created emphasising the role it played in our hospital and community.

A central element of the charity was to be its subscription membership, which gives members a voice and influence over the type and range of services being offered. This gives a vital link through the hospital directly to the community it serves. Today we have approximately 1000 plus members who continue to ‘make a difference’ supporting our hospital, our patients and many health-related projects in our community.