Rugby Hospital Radio celebrates landmark 50th anniversary with special event

Rugby’s St Cross Hospital Radio celebrated its 50th anniversary last week with a special event at the hospital.

Rugby mayor Cllr Carolyn Watson-Merret and Dame Stella Manzie (Chair UHCW NHS Trust) visiting the studio on the day.
Rugby mayor Cllr Carolyn Watson-Merret and Dame Stella Manzie (Chair UHCW NHS Trust) visiting the studio on the day.

The station, run and staffed by volunteers, has delighted patients and staff at St Cross since 1972 – and on Wednesday, June 15, many Rugbeians came together in the hospital cafe to share memories and a slice of cake to mark the occasion.

Rugby mayor Cllr Carolyn Watson-Merret, Dame Stella Manzie (Chair UHCW NHS Trust) and many former volunteers were present for the special event.

Sign up to our daily WarwickshireWorld Today newsletter

In 1972 a group of volunteers from the now defunct Fareham Youth Club got permission to bring equipment to the hospital, setting up in a small room adjoining the chapel and broadcasting twice a week.

The station was a success, and their focus on playing songs requested by patients proved to boost morale across the hospital.

Gary Johnson and David Hall were among the founding volunteers, and they were present for the June 15 event.

Gary said: “The patients loved hearing their favourite songs being played – at that time we only had a small selection of records so we would always hope that we would have the song they wanted.”

David then explained that through the seventies there were many bikers being treated at the hospital.

He said: “We ended up playing a lot of rock and pop.”

As things started to get more serious as the station moved to the now-demolished nurses’ recreation hall.

Radio secretary Phil Smith explained: “Gradually, the organisation turned into a properly organised charity.

"As the 1980s approached, the radio station moved into a dedicated studio, situated in the attic of the old Victorian building on the site, where it remained for 30 years.

Now, in a studio in a more modern section of the hospital, the station now broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The station continues to grow, with several new volunteers joining or rejoining this year.

Phil added that he wishes to thank the UHCW Trust and the people of Rugby for all their support over the years.