Stoke Mandeville Hospital radio still on air after 30 years

ON air in three, two, one… 'Good evening and welcome to Stoke Mandeville Hospital's very own radio station'.

Those were the immortal first words ever spoken on air by the Aylesbury hospital radio's first ever presenter, Geoff Tyrell, 30 years ago last Thursday evening.

A speech by popular Aylesbury councillor and the station's president, Freda Roberts, was broadcast to patients shortly after before another founder member turned councillor, Dave Ralph, presented the first ever request show, on which Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder was the very first request.

Since that night many thousands of requests have been played not only for patients but also staff of the hospital as the station went from strength to strength.

It has attracted some high profile names into the studio along the way including the likes of Sir Jimmy Savile, Noel Edmonds and Conservative MP Norman Tebbit, who was interviewed on air in 1985 during which time his wife was receiving treatment at the hospital after being left disabled and wheelchair-bound for life following the IRA bombing of the 1984 Conservative Party conference in Brighton.

To mark the huge milestone in the station's history, current and former members gathered for a special celebration and presentation of awards at 7.30pm last Thursday night (December 4) - exactly the time and date that the radio station started broadcasting to the patients of the hospital back in 1978.

Former members Cllr Ralph and Cllr Denise Summers were present as was Mayor of Aylesbury, Penni Thorne, members of the Hospital Trust and voluntary services department. Also in attendance was someone to whom the station is presently giving special thanks, Aylesbury Vale District Councillor Janet Blake, who recently donated 10,000 towards a new radio studio from the Community Chest fund as the temporary studio the station currently occupies is set to be demolished.

Members took a trip down memory lane as they shared some fond memories of their time at the station and some received long service awards from June Snowden, president of the Hospital Broadcasting Association.

Mrs Snowden handed out a 30-year certificate to the station as well as Cllr Roberts who was instrumental in getting the station on air alongside fellow 30-year service award winners Dez Kay and Martin Kinch.

Mark Withey and current chairman Matthew Nash received certificates for 20 years, Nick Sievewright for 15 years and Steve Andrews, Roy Mcnabb, Ralph Chadwick and Dave Gamage received 10-year certificates.

Presenters Mark and Faye Grantham presented a request show on the evening, playing requests for patients and staff as well as interviewing some of the guests including surprise visitor and radio legend Dave Lee Travis (DLT) who remembered going to the studios to be interviewed by Martin Kinch in 1980.

Mr Kinch, who joined the station in January 1979, said it was a great evening.

The station's pioneering presenter Mr Tyrell could not attend but had a special message read out on the night.

With the station set to move to its new studio in the near future, SMH Radio president Cllr Roberts said it seemed a fitting time to celebrate such a noteworthy anniversary.

Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio is still going strong, so if you would like a request played for someone in the hospital visit the website or call 01296 331575. A programme schedule can also be found on the website and, when space permits, in The Bucks Herald.

What are your memories of Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio?

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