Hospital radio opens its doors to the public

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By Sue Palmer from the Volunteer Centre at Bossard House, West Street, Leighton Buzzard

I have sung along, badly, to REM’s ‘Everybody Hurts’ hundreds of times, and no doubt had an impact on sales of ear plugs locally.

However, only a couple of weeks ago I learned that the lyrics, penned by pop legend Michael Stipe, were written following the musician’s visit to a children’s hospital. Since then, hearing the line ‘”When the day is long and the night, the night is yours alone” the motivation is clear.

Some readers of a national newspaper voted it as the saddest song ever and this is reinforced as the haunting melody is often used to accompany emotive images on TV, but by contrast those involved with hospital radio find it to be inspiring as it sums up their purpose; to provide comfort in what can be a very lonely time for patients.

L&D Radio has been providing programmes for hospital patients for almost half a century. Starting as “The Hospital Radio” based in Harpenden in 1965, it has gone through many transformations. Progress has taken it from a few enthusiasts, a box of records and a telephone unit, offering just two hours of music each night, to a modern station with two studios, an outside broadcast car, 20 times as much computer technology as guided the first moon landing, a 1134kHz medium wave transmitter, internet streaming and broadcasting around the clock seven days a week.

Looking forward, the station hopes to increase its presence in the local community and for this they require more volunteers in a wide variety of roles. You may like the idea of being in front of the microphone, which is welcomed, but if you are like me and know that people would fall asleep at your anecdotes, take heart as there are numerous roles that don’t require a gift for broadcasting.

You could help maintain the record library, or if you enjoy chatting to people, you could visit wards collecting requests. Technical wizards are of course essential to keep all the equipment in order and there will always be room for those who want to promote L&D Radio by attending concerts and events.

Even helping to keep the station area clean and tidy goes a long way to helping the broadcasters get on with the job in hand.

To see where you could fit in, why not pop along to the radio station, which is based at 6 Calnwood Road, during one of the two open days taking place next week?

On Friday, September 26 (10am to 6pm) and Saturday 27 (10am to 4pm), the station opens its doors to the public. You can meet the presenters, watch a working broadcast and see some of the technology that keeps the station on air around the clock.

Whether you feel tempted to get involved, or maybe are just interested in seeing behind the scenes, you will be welcome. Light refreshments will be served during the day and you are guaranteed an interesting visit.

The lyrics of the song are not wrong; everybody hurts sometimes, and most of us will, at some point, spend a night in hospital.

Thankfully L&D Radio is committed to ensuring that those nights don’t feel quite as long or as lonely. With your help they can continue to offer this invaluable service for another 50 years.

For information on this, or any other type of volunteering, give Volunteer Centre Central Bedfordshire a call. Based in Leighton Buzzard town centre (near the multi-storey car park) an adviser will be happy to meet with you and can offer free advice on what might suit you.

Call 01525 850559, week days 9.30am – 3pm or email volunteer@action-centralbeds.org.uk.

You can also discover more about the opportunities in your area by taking a look at www.do-it.org.uk, simply by entering your interests and postcode.