Chorley and South Ribble hospital radio station gearing up to celebrate its 50th birthday

A Lancashire hospital radio station is ready to click play on its anniversary celebrations as it gears up to honour 50 years in the industry.

Friday, 31st August 2018, 4:00 pm
Updated Sunday, 2nd September 2018, 2:52 am
L-R: Alan Robinson, Janet Pickstop, Terry Diviney, Gill Hardiker, Laura Balshaw, and Diane Herring from Chorley Hospital Radio

Chorley Hospital Radio (CHR) is celebrating its 50th birthday next Friday with a special show on the county’s premier station.

Laura Balshaw, the current head of CHR, said: “We are going to be out live on BBC Radio Lancashire that afternoon with John Gilmour.

“It’s quite a prestigous show where he goes around Lancashire so it’s a big thing for us.”

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L-R: Alan Robinson, Janet Pickstop, Terry Diviney, Gill Hardiker, Laura Balshaw, and Diane Herring from Chorley Hospital Radio

The station was officially opened on September 7, 1968, by ‘Carry On’ star Jack Douglas.

At the time Chorley and Preston Hospital Radios were combined and requests were gathered from the now-defunct Fever Hospital and Eaves Lane Hospital.

This new studio was founded and developed by Ena Montgomery with financial help from The Chorley Lions club – and the rest as they say, is history.

And when asked about why it’s kept so strong for so long, Laura, from Clayton-le-Woods, said: “It’s probably the people. It’s people that want to give their time and realise that people in hospital need it; it’s a lifeline to a lot of them.”

She added: “We are also getting messages from outside of the hospital which is great for people that aren’t able to visit and want to play a request for their friends or family.”

The station has also grown thanks to social media, email, and the internet in general.

The show came about at the end of the ‘Swinging Sixties’, and the continuous musical revolution that took over Britain for decades to follow.

“We keep in touch with what is happening with popular music [but] we don’t just do what’s in the charts,” she explained.

“Our demographic is 45-plus so we have to cater for different tastes.”

Among the variety of shows put on by the 20 or so volunteers is country, funk, soul, jazz, and chat shows.

The DJs, who keep the station on air 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, also vary in experience – the youngest being 25-years-old and the oldest 85; all of which live in the local area.

“We cater to a very wide spectrum,” Laura added, who has been with the station for 17 years.

To mark the golden anniversary the Hospital Broadcasting Association – the national charity that supports hospital broadcasting in the UK – is presenting the show with a special award.

A spokesperson for Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Chorley Hospital Radio is an amazing service which has helped to enhance patient experiences in the hospital for 50 years now.

“It’s incredible just how much time and effort the volunteers give every week.

“We really are so grateful to them and all of the volunteers who have played a part in it over the years.”

The station’s 50th birthday comes as the potential closure of Chorley Hospital’s A&E department was announced, with a single A&E unit for the whole of Lancashire mooted.

“We don’t get involved with the politics,” St Michael’s CE High School Laura explained.

“From our point of view we stay out of it as no matter what happens above we will continue doing what we do best.”