Hospital radio marks its 35th anniversary

tis   Pictured from left at the Harrogate Hospital Radio birthday party are Alderman Les Ellington, Mayoress Sylvia Windass, Mayor Robert Windass, Harrogate Hospital Radio Chairman Ian Wighton and Christine Ellington.  (121022M6a)
tis Pictured from left at the Harrogate Hospital Radio birthday party are Alderman Les Ellington, Mayoress Sylvia Windass, Mayor Robert Windass, Harrogate Hospital Radio Chairman Ian Wighton and Christine Ellington. (121022M6a)

A celebration has been held to mark a significant milestone for Harrogate’s Hospital Radio.

The community station, staffed entirely by volunteers, has marked its 35th anniversary.

tis  Dieting DJs Scott Wall (left) and Shaun Gill broadcast live while on treadmills.  (121020M2)

tis Dieting DJs Scott Wall (left) and Shaun Gill broadcast live while on treadmills. (121020M2)

Set up in 1977, and broadcasting for just two hours a night, the radio station has come a long way and now holds a clutch of awards to its name.

“When it started, it was one gramophone, one reel to reel type recorder, one microphone,” said presenter David Simister. “Now we’ve got fabulous broadcasting equipment, we are on 24 hours a day.

“It’s a wonderful achievement and one down to the work of the volunteers who staff it.”

Harrogate’s Hospital Radio first broadcast on October 22, 1977. It’s chairman, Ian Wighton, is its longest serving member, having joined shortly after.

It was set up initially with the aim of “relieving sickness, infirmity and old age” and was on air for two hours a night.

It now broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The youngest of its volunteers is just 16, the oldest, nearly 80.

“Some people give money to charitable causes, we can really get involved,” said Mr Simister. “We don’t do it for self gratification, we enjoy it.”

In March 2008 Harrogate Hospital Radio was voted second best in the UK, and more recently, Ellie Jackson was named female presenter of the year.

The station has welcomed celebrity guests including Nell McAndrew and Emmerdale stars. Prime Minister David Cameron has sent messages of support, and it has played host to Bond Girl Honor Blackman.

And while it is only a community radio station, its technology is state of the art. Just last year a new mixing desk was bought with council and charity grants. The station is now raising £11,000 for a new mixing desk for its second studio.

DJs Shaun Gill and Scott Wall, to mark the station’s 35th anniversary, set themselves the challenge of raising £3,500 by losing 35lb. The pair have been counting the calories since June, and have lost 56lb and 51lb respectively, smashing their targets and raising £4,771.12.

“It was a very difficult challenge, but a very rewarding one,” said Mr Gill. “All the money we raised will help bring us into the 21st century.”