ROYAL Bournemouth Hospital’s League of Friends charity is to close just before Christmas.

The charity, which has been running for 64 years and raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for the hospital, will officially shut down on December 21.

Lindsey Sturman, fundraising manager for the Bournemouth Hospital charity, which is a separate organisation and of which the League was an affiliate, said the reason was simple - they cannot recruit enough volunteers. And she blamed the higher retirement age.

“With the new retirement age at 66 they are just not getting younger members in to replace them so they had to make a very hard decision this year which they did, and it was to close their doors,” she said.

“They have retiring members and all their members are 80 plus now. Between them they’ve given over 290 years of service.”

The League of Friends Bournemouth started at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Boscombe and then transferred to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital when it moved.

The charity currently has 127 members, with there being as many as 195 at one time, said Lindsey. Some of these members have served the charity for over 25 years, with their oldest member being 104 years old and still knitting bed socks to sell in the League of Friends Charity shop.

Over the years the League has funded items such as shower gel and combs for patients to use, as well as big-ticket items. Their most recent purchase was an £80,000 piece of equipment for the Urology department.

Two years ago they spent more than £6,000 on two televisions for the Outpatients’s department, as £11,000 on anaesthetic tray wraps and gave £507 to Hospital Bedside Radio.

Rosie Havers, the Chair of the League of Friends Bournemouth Charity thanked all the knitters, sewers and crafters who have supported them and the people that attended their summer fetes and Christmas fayres.

“Without them we wouldn’t have been able to raise the money that we did for the hospital,” she said. “I’m going to miss the charity terribly as it has been a big part of my life. But I leave the charity knowing that we have helped all the different wards and departments of the hospital throughout the years.”

BJ Waltho, the Associate Director of Operations at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital praised the League for everything it had done.

“The money that the League of Friends have given the Trust over the past 64 years has been amazing,” she said.”Their focus has always been helping in any way they can in order to make it better for our patients.

“Both patients and staff have benefited from their generous donations. and their fundraising over the years has been exemplary and unstinting for which the Trust is extremely grateful.

“Everyone associated with the League of Friends should be very proud of what they have achieved.”