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3rd Jul, 2022

Volunteers praised as Rugby Hospital Radio marks 50th anniversary

DEDICATED DJs and volunteers at Rugby Hospital Radio have been honoured on the station’s 50th anniversary.

The station hosted a special celebration during which University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Chair Dame Stella Manzie and Mayor Carolyn Watson-Merret honoured volunteers past and present – and presenting certificates to long standing members.

A group of Rugby teenagers from the now-defunct Fareham Youth Club first set up their makeshift disco equipment in the Hospital of St Cross in the summer of 1972, when Marc Bolan and T Rex were stomping their way through their number one hit Metal Guru, and David Bowie introduced the world to his alter ego Ziggy Stardust.

Fifty years later, the teenagers have grown up and moved on and the music has changed – but Rugby Hospital Radio lives on, kept on air by a team of dedicated volunteers who broadcast a mixture of pre-recorded and live programmes 24 hours a day.

From a small room adjoining the hospital chapel to a nurses’ recreation hall kitchen, the service has taken up residence in a handful of studios in its time, and in 1981 the station was able to move into its first permanent residence in the roof space of the Victorian building.

In 2010, following the closure of the Victorian building, the team moved to a new location on the hospital site which was converted from a former storage annexe into the combined library and studio space it operates out of today.

Named in tribute to one of the station’s longest serving members, the Richard Green Studio offers a modern suite of technology bringing music from every decade to the ears of patients.

Addressing members and supporters of the station, Dame Stella said: “I have long appreciated the value of hospital radio and I have also admired the hard work and dedication their members. In the case of Rugby Hospital Radio, that dedication has now reached its fiftieth year.

“In 1972, the top selling single of that year was Amazing Grace. No less amazing was the initiative of a group of young people from Fareham Youth Club, who took their own idea and their own equipment into the Old Chapel and made their first broadcast.”

Rugby Hospital Radio Chairman Jim Austin said: “We are grateful to all the people of Rugby for their support and donations over the years, and to all the organisations who have supported us, especially the Friends of St Cross.

“Our St Cross site management and the UHCW NHS Trust have always been incredibly supportive and we would not be able to run the station without this backing.”

David Hall, one of the original founding members, reminisced: “As I recall, the first song I played was Dance with the Devil by Cozy Powell. Maybe it wasn’t the best choice of title for hospital patients, but I was 17 at the time. At least it would have kept them awake!”

Rugby Hospital Radio is currently recruiting new members. Email secretary@rugbyhospitalradio.co.uk for more information.

With thanks to Patrick Joyce.

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