JULY 2004 was a landmark date for Teignmouth Hospital League of Friends who gathered with their supporters in Bitton House to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

Their bank balance stood at nearly half a million pounds after years of robust fundraising in little old Teignmouth. But local people loved their hospital and showed their gratitude from the grave, often in large amounts.

The league organised annual fetes and subscription coffee mornings, provided flowers on the wards and the weekly trolley service for patients and treats for the nursing staff.

The founding group had been encouraged by Matron Colley who was at the helm when our new, long-awaited hospital was opened in 1954 and Frank Russell, a prominent townsman had driven it forward.

This band of workers were appreciated and strongly supported by the townspeople and local groups regularly donated a portion of funds from their own activities. But the approach to their 50th anniversary was marred by major changes including the loss of half its beds, provoking locals into worrying about the future of the revered building.