Radio Horton celebrates sixty years

Radio Horton has proudly marked its sixtieth anniversary with a series of special broadcasts. Since its launch in 1964, Radio Horton has been a cornerstone of life at the Horton General Hospital and the community, providing comfort, entertainment, and information to patients and staff. This milestone celebration underscores the station’s enduring commitment to its broadcasting service.

On 7th July 1964, listeners at Banbury’s Horton General Hospital heard the Westminster Waltz, followed by the magical words “This is Radio Horton calling”. Founded by local journalists, the late Ted Hanson MBE and Graham Wilton, the station was built on the founding principles of uplifting spirits and brightening patients’ time in hospital. Today, the station reaches a broader audience, and has discovered the positive impact to hospital staff and the wider community through its health and wellbeing programming. 

To mark the occasion, the radio station aired a sixty-hour marathon of programmes, culminating in a live broadcast from the Horton Restaurant on Monday 8th July. The special programme starred Radio Horton presenter Anthony Brown and station President John Craven OBE, sharing his “Soundtrack” – a selection of music that shaped his life, alongside requests from patients and staff.

Jamie French from Horton General Hospital Charity joined Sam Smette to discuss the valuable fundraising projects and how both organisations have made a difference to patients and staff. 

French said in a statement: “The Radio Horton team made me feel so welcome and it was a lovely experience to join in the celebrations marking this very special achievement. Volunteers make such a difference in our hospitals, and music and chat can have a really important in supporting patients during difficult times.”

Meanwhile, the Horton Power Choir delivered a memorable performance exclusively for Radio Horton’s anniversary, captivating the audience in the restaurant with their serenade.

During the ceremony, Radio Horton President John Craven OBE highlighted the fantastic work and efforts of the Radio Horton volunteers. He recognised Mel and Chris Kirkpatrick for 5 years of service, Anthony Brown for 15 years, James Hulbert for 25 years, and Tom Wilson for an impressive 50 years of service, all receiving Long Service Awards from the Hospital Broadcasting Association.

Pictures courtesy of Harry Rhodes/Tudor Photography/Radio Horton.

Speaking at the celebration, John Craven OBE said: “Thank you to all the volunteers who make Radio Horton possible. Sixty years is an incredible achievement, and it is a testament to your dedication that the station remains strong today.”

A 60th birthday cake and cupcakes were kindly donated by Carpenter Catering at the Horton Restaurant, with canapés also available for distinguished guests.

Radio Horton Chair of Trustees, Sam Smette said: “We were thrilled to celebrate our sixtieth anniversary where it all started. We wanted to create a special event involving our friends and colleagues from the Horton General Hospital and the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Therefore, a live broadcast from a public area of the hospital was essential for this occasion.”

“Radio Horton owes its existence to the incredible support of our volunteer workforce, from presenters to ward volunteers and those behind the scenes. To everyone who has ever supported Radio Horton as a volunteer over the past sixty years, including those sadly no longer with us, no matter your contribution, we are grateful for your part in keeping this great organisation thriving.”

“We are also immensely grateful to the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for providing us with our home, and of course to the local community for tuning in, and supporting us at our fundraising events.”

Smette also paid tribute to Tom Wilson, adding, “Organising our event required immense effort. I extend special thanks to Station Engineer & Trustee Tom Wilson. Over fifty years, Tom has kept our engineering and IT top-notch, ensuring the station remains on air. Tom’s dedication, mentoring of volunteers, and equipment upkeep are invaluable. Thank you, Tom, and congratulations on fifty years at Radio Horton.”

Former volunteers dropped in to say hello and take part in the celebration with stalwarts including Kevin Matthews, Charlie Hallam, Matthew Holroyd, Maureen Paterson, Andy Bannard, Steve Crosse, Stewart Green and Ian Fleming all returning to present special programmes, sharing reflections on their time at Radio Horton.

A special exhibition featured photographs, memorabilia and press clippings along with archived materials, showcasing the station’s rich sixty-year history. Some of these will continue to be on display at the Radio Horton studio for anyone wishing to look back at bygone eras. 

Chief Executive Officer of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Meghana Pandit said: “Hospital radio plays a key supporting role in the delivery of care, providing music and entertainment as well as topical discussions and well-being information to patients in our hospitals.”  

“The 60th anniversary of Radio Horton, broadcasting to patients in the Horton Hospital,  as well as to residents of care homes in North Oxfordshire area, is testament to the enduring value of the station and the volunteers, both past and present, that give their time and expertise to put on a such a varied programme of shows.  Thank you and Congratulations!”

Meanwhile Professor Sir Jonathan Montgomery, Chair of the Board of Directors at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust added: ‘Congratulations to Radio Horton! The Horton General Hospital plays a vital role in our health system and the people of Banbury are rightly proud of its achievements.” 

“Radio Horton is one of the precious arteries through which its life-blood flows. Patients and staff have so much to celebrate on this 60th anniversary. The team should be very proud of their fantastic work.”

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