1969 - 1976
The Birth Of A Hospital Radio Station.
The early beginnings of radio Heatherwood can be traced back to 1969 when one man decided to play records to the patients of Heatherwood. Bill Berry the then works foreman at Heatherwood used his own records and with a turntable and mike would play requests to patients from a room in the old admin block. Bill was providing a record request program to the general wards on a Tuesday evening for two hours.
Every Picture Tells A Story
Bill Berry 1976
Click to Enlarge :
The league had agreed to fund the rental of records at £50 a year so that the programs could go out. Bill used some of his own 78's along with those of family and friends.
This early service was plagued by faulty equipment on the wards. The service was very much a one man band operation.
It was a request to the league of friends that prompted the investment in new equipment and the launch of Radio Heatherwood.
The exact start of the service is unclear as Bill passed away some years ago and we were not able to obtain that information. What is clear records of the league of friends minutes from 1969 shows entries detailing the work of Bill and the service referred to at that time as “Patient Request Programme ”.
A press article from a local paper featured a story on Bill and the service and the need for records and volunteers.
When the station celebrated 30 years in 2006 Mrs. Berry, Bill's wife passed us some pictures and the press article listed here.
Letters to the League
Recently discovered a number of letters to the league which showed as far back as 1972 they were trying to get the radio system updated on the wards.
Thank you for your letter of the 26-9-72. With regards to the record request programme.
I am sorry to have to report that it seems just as far away from any solution as it did when I reported to you on Jan I2th. 72.
I personally think these people need exposing for withholding the information required with a view that someone gives in and accepts their fantastic figure they quote.
I believe the Hospital Engineer has written and phoned on quite a number of times but can still get no satisfaction.
Mr. W.Pack and Mrs.T. Pack have been wonderful in the way they have helped with the records,“both in supplying and delivering,and any accounts to be paid for these will he given to you by Mrs Pack at your meeting.
I did the commercials for you on the Xmas Bazaar, wish you luck.
Berkshire Area Health Authority
Further to my letter of the 20th January 1975 and our recent telephone conversation, I am now able to advise you more positively on the scheme to replace the existing radio system at Heatherwood Hospital. As you know, the lowest tender — Messrs. T.J. Richardson of Ascot - amounts to £3,494.88 (exclusive of VAT - £280), and I am pleased to be able to confirm that the District Management Team are prepared to contribute £1,000.00 to the scheme.
I understand that you will be calling a further meeting to consider the project and I look forward to receiving written confirmation that the League will find the balance of cost, whereupon an order will be placed immediately.
I understand that the delivery period for the specialized equipment is from 12-14 weeks, but the associated re-wiring and new wiring can be accommodated within this period.
R.L. Gosney / General Administrator Mr. J. Knight, District Works Officer, would be more than pleased to attend your meeting to explain fully the details of the scheme, and if you feel this would be helpful, perhaps you would contact him direct-at Old Windsor Hospital, telephone number WINDSOR 62121.
Letter to the league in January 1975. It would be another 15 months before the work was completed and the radio service could be used.
Fast Forward to 1976 and the radio service gets underway on a more regular basis.
Just some extra's we found:-
Whilst reviewing the archive files we came across a number of letters sent from Bill in 1972 to the then secretary of the league of friends.
What was notable was the letterhead that Bill had used. The first here shows his details:-
The second shows an addition of the sponsor of the record request program.
Letterhead 1969/1975 Mark 2.
The discovery of these letterheads confirmed what we had suspected that the first days of Radio Heatherwood were started by Bill and enforced the notion it was a bit of a one man operation at the start.
Press story on the work of Bill.
December 1969 Click to enlarge:-
Bill Berry Local Press Article