Fundraisers helping out Wigan's hospitals

Howard Gallimore (second right) presents the cheque for Three Wishes
Howard Gallimore (second right) presents the cheque for Three Wishes

Generous Wiganers are making the borough’s hospitals better through thousands of pounds of charity donations.

Hundreds of residents have got involved in fund-raising activities for Three Wishes, the official charity of Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Foundation Trust.

Now fund-raising manager Janet Pennington has explained exactly what an impact people’s hard work is having for patients in the borough.

Three Wishes brings in money which can then be spent on items which make care in hospital or the general environment for people better but are not considered essential when the Government is doling out NHS funding.

There are no fewer than 11 different funds, ranging from a general pot through to specific schemes to boost the children’s Rainbow Ward, treatment of cancer and dementia and much more.

And everyone from well-known businessmen to local sports stars to countless ordinary Wiganers has proven themselves keen to get involved and swell the total.

Janet said: “People are incredibly generous and it makes a huge difference. There is so much we simply couldn’t do if people were not so helpful.

“It allows us to go that extra mile as a Trust for our patients and provide the service they deserve, improving the experience for them.

“I think people are kind because they have the ethos of wanting to give something back. People recognise how precious the NHS is and they can help something that has supported them and their families all their lives.”

One of the charity’s biggest fund-raising drives at the moment is to find the £30,000 needed to create the Teen Lounge in Rainbow Ward.

Artist’s impressions have revealed what this relaxing space for young adults experiencing lengthy stays in Wigan Infirmary, in what can be quite a challenging environment for them, will look like.

Janet said: “We have a lot of teenagers admitted with complex issues such as eating disorders and mental illnesses.

“They need specialist support which can be difficult on a ward next to screaming toddlers. Years ago wards were separated by age but now it has to be by gender, so teenagers could be next to two-year-olds.

“Teen Lounge will be a dedicated area for teenagers. There will be an X-Box, a seating area where they can talk to each other and other things helping them to relax.

“It will be a huge asset in their recovery and getting them home to their families.”

Three Wishes donations have already had an effect on the look of Wigan Infirmary with the room on Standish Ward where families and patients hold discussions with medical staff being decorated to look like a conservatory so it is a less forbidding environment thanks to charity money.

It is not just cosmetic changes that are funded through the charity, though. A massive donation recently from a group working in memory of a baby will allow the maternity ward to purchase two incubators, something that staff are desperate to have.

Blood pressure monitors have also been bought for the area where new arrivals come into the world thanks to Three Wishes money.

Janet said: “People don’t realise how much equipment costs. Incubators are about £15,000 each.”

Other purchases are somewhat quirkier or clever touches that enhance the NHS experience but most people would probably never even consider.

The Trust was able to buy Wrightington Hospital special electronic bins which open to the touch, which are useful because pedal-operated ones are no good for patients who have just had hip operations.

Training has also been boosted at the hospitals with the acquisition of Wilf, a highly-sophisticated resuscitation doll which set the Trust back £20,000 but was bought with the generosity of donations.

More high-tech purchases from the general fund include a system which works out where the greatest needs for doctors and nurses to attend are and makes care on wards more efficient.

Another investment with Three Wishes cash are a number of dementia dolls. These are used when people with the devastating memory-loss condition come into a clinical setting, which can be a highly distressed and anxiety-inducing experience. Having the doll to rock helps them to relax.

The Trust is also looking at a number of furry electronic cats which male patients with dementia, who might not want a doll, can stroke.

There is a never-ending stream of demands for funding, with Three Wishes preparing currently for work to be done improving the sensory garden in the cancer centre in the New Year.

Ensuring Three Wishes and the medical teams at WWL can make these buys are a veritable army of fund-raisers from across the borough.Some of them are quite high-profile, such as Wigan’s teenage jet ski racing champion Lucy Gadsby who raised thousands of pounds by shaving her hair off as her grandad had cancer and she wanted to help the service.

Others are businesses such as Martland Mill-based Torque, who nominated Three Wishes as its charity of the year and has already raised £2,500, with fund-raising continuing until March.

The Sainsbury’s depot at Haydock also raised £4,600 after an employee had treatment at the cancer centre.

There are also opportunities for Wiganers to participate in fund-raising en masse, with events supporting Three Wishes including the annual Santa Dash in Mesnes Park.

Janet said; “There are some lovely stories behind our fund-raisers. However, there’s always more we could do, and some people still don’t know we exist.

“Ultimately we want to be the charity of choice in Wigan.”

For more information visit www.wwl.nhs.uk/charitable_funds/ or www.justgiving.com/threewishes/donate