Guided Tour of Woburn Abbey's Gardens: 9th May 2015

By kind invitation of the Duchess of Bedford, our Guided Tour of Woburn Abbey's lovely, historic Gardens took place on 9th May 2015 from 2pm and earned a very pleasing £360 for the Friends.

LTU in Bedford generously designed and printed most attractive posters for this event, and one of the matching tickets is shown here. 40 guests enjoyed the tour with our enthusiastic and well-informed guide, Head Gardener Martin Towsey, who chooses a new route for us each year. Tickets were £14.50 and included a delicious and beautifully served Cream Tea in the Duchess's Tea Room after the tour. Every guest came and thanked us personally at the end of the event, which was very kind of them and most gratifying. £9 of each ticket price went to the Friends, giving us a very pleasing income of £360 from this event.

We are very grateful indeed to the Duchess of Bedford and to Martin Towsey for our memorably enjoyable afternoon.

MUSICAL COMEDY “The Little Shop of Horrors” took place on Tuesday, 21 April 2015 at 7.30pm at Trinity Arts & Leisure, Bromham Rd, Bedford MK40 2BS (formerly Bedford High School).

It made a very welcome profit of £280 for the Friends. Adult tickets were sold @ £14, Concessions £12 and every penny of ticket money supported Bedford Hospital, as Bedford Marianettes had kindly given the Friends free Charity tickets.

Cast members were tuneful and enthusiastic, and the staging striking and effective. The action in “The Little Shop of Horrors” centres on a flower shop. It's a comedy rock musical by composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman. It won four prestigious awards for Best Musical, running for five years on Broadway and several more in the West End. It toured the UK in 2009. The catchy and memorable music includes well-known tunes, including “Skid Row (Downtown)”, “Somewhere that's Green” and “Suddenly, Seymour”.

Guests enjoyed free parking in the grounds, spacious and comfortable seating and a good variety of refreshments. It was a memorable evening for all and we are truly grateful to Bedford Marianettes for their generosity to the Friends.

Italian Dining Evening: 24th March 2015

Italian Dining EveningThis most enjoyable event took place at the kind invitation of the Higgins Pantry Restaurant, Castle Lane, MK40 3XD. 59 guests attended at the excellent price of only £16 for 4 delicious courses of authentic Italian food, including coffee.

Raffle prizes included a Woburn Passport kindly given by Her Grace the Duchess of Bedford, a £25 voucher donated by the Higgins Pantry Restaurant and a £20 voucher kindly given by the Deshi Spice Restaurant in the Broadway, Bedford.

This event earned a very pleasing total of £526 for the Friends. We are very grateful indeed to the Management and Staff of the Higgins Pantry Restaurant, who gave us a memorable and profitable evening.

Baby Sale: 21st March 2015

A Nearly New Sale of quality clothes, toys and equipment from birth to 5 years took place from 2pm to 4pm on Saturday 21st March 2015 at the Athletic Stadium, Barker's Lane, Bedford MK41 9SB.

We had an excellent attendance @ £1 per adult, children free.

Refreshments were served by the committee, with sincere thanks to the Staff of the Stadium, who had kindly supplied a Catering Urn which enabled us to serve Teas, Coffees and Hot Chocolates speedily and efficiently.

The Refreshments alone earned £104 for the Friends. Overall profits will be confirmed later.

For more information about the next “Baby Sale” on Saturday 26th September 2015, or to book a pitch please contact Melanie on 0755 2906157 or

Sellers keep their own profits after paying their £6 table fees, while all profits from entrance and table fees go to the Friends of Bedford Hospital.

If you have a child-related business, playgroup, nursery, photographer, etc., that you would like to advertise free of charge, in return for promoting the Friends of Bedford Hospital “Baby Sale”, please contact Melanie as above.

“CHRISTMAS CRACKER” Concert on Friday, 12th December 2014 at 7.30pm in the Corn Exchange, St. Paul's Square, Bedford.

The Friends were very privileged indeed this year because Bedford Hospital Choir and Bedford Brass chose to give the proceeds of their Christmas Concert to our Dementia Support Project. Their “Christmas Cracker” was an inspiring evening of seasonal music, with a Raffle for added entertainment and fund-raising, and the audience joined in singing the best-known pieces. It put us all in the mood for Christmas! Tickets, costing £8 for adults, £6 for the over-60s and £3 for school children, had sold well over 400, a record for this annual event. Including the members of the Choir and Band, there were at least 500 people filling the Corn Exchange. Tesco had kindly supplied the mince pies for refreshments in the interval, while LTU/Affinity of Ampthill Street, Bedford had generously printed large numbers of high-quality posters, flyers and Programmes for this event at no cost to the organizers.

The Friends had spread publicity and supplied twelve volunteers to check and sell tickets at the door, sell Raffle tickets and hold collecting buckets as the audience departed.

Sadly it was the 25th and last of these “Christmas Cracker” concerts, as a number of the key organizers were retiring and felt that 25 was a good number to go out on.

We are delighted to announce that the concert achieved a profit of over £2,000 to improve facilities for patients admitted to Bedford Hospital with a medical need, but who also suffer from Dementia.

Collection at Budgen's, Bromham on Saturday, 29th November 2014

Collecting at Budgen's in this friendly village is always an enjoyable experience because both staff and customers are so generous and welcoming. On 29th November nearly every customer stopped to give us a kind word and a financial contribution, and quite a few told us what good treatment they or their relations had in Bedford Hospital and how grateful they were. Collectors were able to choose between standing or sitting outside or indoors to stay warm and dry.

In three earlier Budgen's collections during 2014 we had raised a total £953.86. In our pre-Christmas collection on Saturday, 29th November we found Bromham people especially generous and we received the exceptional amount of £399.55.

This brings the total of our four collections at Budgen's, Bromham in 2014 to a very satisfactory £1,353.41. We are extremely grateful to the warm-hearted people of Bromham and surrounding areas, and to the kindness of the staff at Budgen's for making this possible.

We look forward to collecting at Budgen's again in 2015 (on four Saturdays which will be announced soon).

Christmas Stall at our Annual General Meeting on Saturday, 22nd November at St. Andrew's Church Hall

Refreshments were served and our Christmas Stall sold a wide range of items, as at the White Horse Christmas Fair earlier in November. Members kindly contributed gifts as well as freshly-baked cakes and home-made preserves, which were very much appreciated. Earnings from this stall totalled a very pleasing £111.60, including 12 packs of Friends' Christmas Cards @ £3.

Friends' Christmas Cards sold exceptionally well in 2014

Friends of Bedford Hospital Christmas Cards, in nine designs, were on sale in the combined Central Box Office / Booking Office / Tourist Information Office on the west side of St. Paul's Square in Bedford. A selection of gifts with a British theme, and the cards of other local and national Charities were also available there and it was well worth a visit.

The Friends had been very pleased to receive a payment of £499.50 from the Box Office for sales of cards for Christmas 2013, and were even more delighted to receive the outstanding amount of £853.20 for sales running up to Christmas 2014. That represented the sale of 316 packs of cards @ £3, minus 10% commission. For the first time we almost ran out of Christmas cards, having only 23 packs left.

Our cards were also on sale at all our Friends' events running up to Christmas, and to Members enquiring individually. Altogether we have sold 427 packs of ten Friends' Christmas cards 2014, achieving an average profit of £1.50 per pack, earning over £640 for the Hospital.

In February 2015 the Central Box Office is moving to new premises in the rebuilt Bus Station, where we shall be visiting them in March/April (once they have settled in) to see how much space they will have for selling cards. If they have adequate facilities we shall be ordering a wide range of new designs as soon as they are available, in optimistic preparation for Christmas 2015.

The Box Office's 10% commission for selling Christmas cards is more than repaid by the high number of sales they achieve – far more than we can sell ourselves. Volume of sales is important not only to earn money, but also because every Christmas card advertises our Charity. The back of each pack also gives the purchaser a description of our activities and invites volunteers. If every card bought in 2014 was sent, that's 4,270 people who have seen the name and contact details of the Friends of Bedford Hospital.

Successful Christmas Stall at the White Horse Pub on 15th November 2014

The Christmas Fayre at the White Horse Pub in Newnham Avenue, Bedford on Saturday 15th November was open from 11am to 6pm.

Our Friends of Bedford Hospital Stall sold home-made jams, chutneys, freshly-baked cakes, toys, gifts, Christmas books, decorations and bric-a-brac. Nine designs of Friends' Christmas cards (six designs new this year) were also on sale. Assistance was kindly given by Members and volunteers, both in donating items for the Stall and in running it. Freshly-baked cakes and home-made jams and marmalades disappeared fast, and we sold all items steadily through the day. Several other local Charities' Christmas Stalls were also present, while home-baked meals and snacks were available at the White Horse throughout the day. Nigel and Sue Anstead (Landlords) and their family had baked delicious cookies and cakes, inviting donations for Charity.

The Friends' stall made a very satisfactory £200.90, including the sale of 29 packs of Friends' Christmas cards @ £3.

Bedford Dramatic Club

During the past year the members of Bedford Dramatic Club have generously given the Friends of Bedford Hospital 50 Charity Tickets for two of their plays: “THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK” performed at “The Place” in Bradgate Road on Tuesday 15th October 2013, and the comedy “RELATIVELY SPEAKING” by Alan Ayckbourn, performed at Trinity Arts & Leisure in Bromham Road (formerly Bedford High School) on Thursday 25th September 2014.

Thanks to loyal support from our Members, and the outstandingly attractive posters skilfully designed and generously supplied by LTU of Bedford, all 50 tickets were sold for both of the plays, earning a total of £813.50 including donations from Members who were unable to attend but kindly wished to support these events. Most tickets were sold at the concessionary price of £7 for students and over-60's.

We are very grateful indeed to Bedford Dramatic Club for providing us with this new and interesting way to raise funds and to offer our supporters a different and most enjoyable experience. Both plays were excellently staged and performed and we are delighted to know that BDC plans to offer us Charity tickets for future productions.

Quiz Evening at St Cuthbert's Hall

On Thursday 4th September 2014 the popular duo of Quiz Master Vijay Puri and his assistant David kindly hosted another challenging Quiz Evening for the Friends in St. Cuthbert's Hall, Bedford. 47 guests enjoyed hot pizza and chips supplied by the staff at the Hall, with fresh salads and cakes supplied by the Committee. We were kindly assisted in running the evening by Ahmad, a young volunteer originally from Afghanistan, who hopes to study Medicine or Medical Sciences at University.

A Raffle with attractive prizes earned £88, contributing to a total profit of £468.00 for this event. New customers included actors and stage crew from the “Marianettes”, whom Vijay was directing in the musical “Avenue Q”, performed to wide acclaim in Trinity Arts & Leisure the following month.

Bedford River Festival 2014

The Friends were offered space in the large marquee provided by Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and we enthusiastically accepted this opportunity to meet the public, tell them about our work, invite them to our forthcoming fund-raising events and encourage volunteers and new Members.

As the weekend approached hot and steamy conditions seemed likely in the marquee, so we brought our own floor-standing fans. To meet regulations, at short notice Mr Damian Craddock of CRADDOCK ELECTRICAL SERVICES LTD, 2 Shaldon Court, Barnstaple Road, Bedford MK40 3AL (Telephone: 01234-358234) very kindly examined our fans and the lighting for our display boards and certified these as safe, without making any charge to the Friends.

The professional display boards were obtained by Alistair Scott of the BRITISH INTERPLANETARY SOCIETY and lent free of charge by AIRBUS DEFENCE AND SPACE of Stevenage, who design and manufacture many of the communications satellites that circle our planet, as well as Space hardware including Mars rovers.

The River Festival weekend unluckily suffered from heavy rain, but a surprisingly large number of people attended, some whom we met having travelled from as far away as Nottingham and Southampton. The Friends had a corner space in the BCCG marquee between Bedford Hospital's Dietitians and Hygienists.

The Hygienists on our right had portable hand-washing facilities and colourful give-aways of antibacterial hand gel. They showed with ultra-violet light whether people had removed all the dirt from their fingernails. The Dietitians on our left measured people's heights and had accurate scales discreetly placed behind a screen, to work out each person's BMI (Body Mass Index) and they advised us all how to eat healthily. They disgusted everyone with chunks of flabby rubber “blubber” to show the appearance and texture of fat deposits.

It was a challenge to compete with these hands-on attractions, but we offered a cool and refreshing corner where people could recover from the sticky heat, with a well-lit display of all our activities and our current project for the Hospital. We handed out plenty of leaflets with information about the Friends and our upcoming events. We met many people who had been delighted with the treatment they or their relations had received in Bedford Hospital, and had been particularly impressed by the kindness and individual attention given by all levels of Hospital staff.

We weren't able to collect money for the Friends at this event, but we made several useful contacts and recruited one new subscription-paying Member. Our presence throughout the weekend helped to show strong support from the community for our Hospital.

Visit to Woburn Gardens with a Cream Tea

Her Grace the Duchess of Bedford once again generously invited the Friends and our guests to Woburn, for an accompanied tour of the Gardens followed by a delicious, freshly-prepared Cream Tea in the Duchess's Tea Rooms. Thanks to the very attractive posters designed and supplied by LTU of Bedford, we sold 43 tickets for this event.

On 10th May 2014 Martin Towsey, Head Gardener for all the Woburn Estates, welcomed our group, who had come prepared with sun-hats, umbrellas and wellington boots as the forecast was very uncertain. Luckily we had a fine day for our very interesting tour, which started with the largest, cleanest and most neatly-organized garden shed any of us had ever seen. The afternoon was unexpectedly enlivened by a detachment of World War I soldiers marching smartly past and drilling in preparation for a historical re-enactment to take place in a few days' time.

This most enjoyable afternoon attracted a number of guests who had not attended a Friends' event before, and it earned us a welcome £391.50 for the Hospital.

Italian Dining Evening

On 29th April 2014 the Higgins Pantry Restaurant in Castle Lane, Bedford MK40 3XD hosted Friends and their guests for a delicious four-course Italian dinner. Our very attractive posters, designed and supplied as always by LTU of Bedford, helped us to sell 41 tickets at the very modest price of £16 per person. This memorably enjoyable evening attracted new supporters and earned £373.60 for the Friends, including Raffle profits.

We hope to hold another Italian evening in March or April 2015. Please let us know if you are interested!

Friends of Bedford Hospital “Baby Sales”

Committee Member Mel Doherty organized three “Baby Sales” whose profits were paid in during the recent financial year ended 30th September 2014, totalling £661.14 including sales of Refreshments.

Parents are keen to sell outgrown baby clothes, toys, books and equipment, and Mel gives them a great opportunity to do so. Each seller pays a fee to Mel to book a pitch, and out of these fees Mel pays for the venue (the Athletic Stadium in Barker's Lane at present) and for newspaper advertising. Each adult buyer pays £1 to enter the venue, with children allowed in free of charge.

A huge amount of work is involved in advertising and running these Sales, which benefit the Friends by attracting a large number of young families. Mel achieves most of the publicity via social media and the local Press, having kept lists of all previous participants. The Committee helps by spreading posters and flyers, writing to Nurseries and by providing a Refreshment Stall at each event.

If a parent has children's books and toys unsold, these are often given to the Friends and we earn further income by selling them at our Swannery stall or our Christmas stalls. The books and toys are usually in good condition and we are very grateful for these donations.

Charity Quiz Evening at the White Horse Pub

On 26th February 2014 Sue and Nigel Anstead, Landlords of the White Horse Pub in Newnham Avenue, Bedford, welcomed 65 Friends and their guests to a Charity Quiz Evening. A delicious and varied Ploughman's Supper with hot chips was served half way through the proceedings.

We had strong representation from Bedford Hospital, with notably hot competition between teams of Physiotherapists from North and South Wings. The Telecoms and Anticoagulation Departments each provided a team, as did the Finance Department, who were disappointed in their hope for a difficult question on Double Accounting.

Including Raffle profits, the evening made a very pleasing £831.45 for the Friends. The White Horse hosts a Quiz with Ploughman's Supper for a different Charity every Wednesday. Each year, including Quizzes and special events, they enable local Charities to earn around £40,000.

“Flavours of India” Charity Dining Evening

On 28th November 2013 Shish Miah and his team welcomed the Friends and our guests once again to the Bengal Brasserie, 9 Broadway, Bedford MK40 2TJ for an evening of varied and delicious Indian cuisine.

40 diners attended and this most enjoyable evening achieved an astonishing £1,427.00 for the Friends including Raffle and Charity Auction profits, as well as generous donations from Mrs Sue Lousada, Mr Steve Lane of LaneIP (Intellectual Property Law), and Barclays Bank, 111 High Street, Bedford.

Friends of Bedford Hospital Christmas Stalls 2013

We held our Christmas Stall at four venues last year:


White Horse Pub Christmas Fair on 7/11/13 


Oakley Village Hall Flower Demonstration on 12/11/13

At our AGM on 16/11/13 £76.00

Raleigh Children's Centre Christmas Fair on 7/12/13 

Total profit from Christmas Stalls in 2013: £327.60