A HOSPITAL radio station is celebrating after providing patients with much-needed bedside company for four decades.

Radio Poole began broadcasting on July 21, 1972, shortly after the advent of Radio Boscombe , serving patients of the recently opened Poole General Hospital in Longfleet Road.

Patients listened in to their own programme when the station went on the air for the first time, inaugurated by Mayoress Mrs Olive Mears.

It was all made possible by the generosity of the League of Friends who spent £200 on equipment, including a twin turntable, for playing requests for one hour on Saturdays.

The station broadcast from a studio in the hospital basement with programmes relayed over a sound system to patients’ bedsides. The first interviews were with the cast from Bournemouth’s Playhouse and Pier Theatres and the team consisted of nine announcers, one electronics engineer and one librarian.

To mark the station’s first birthday a two-hour programme was planned with Daily Echo readers invited to send in requests for a relative or friend in hospital.

Times have certainly changed. Hospital Radio Bedside, which Radio Poole eventually became, is now the longest serving radio station in the Bournemouth area with around 45 volunteers.

The station moved to Westbourne Eye Hospital in 1976 and has been based in a studio in the grounds of the Royal Bournemouth Hospital since 1990. In 2009 the station received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services.

Former pub DJ Trevor Dean, Hospital Radio Bedside’s head of marketing, has been involved for 22 years. He told the Daily Echo: “We now broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We are fully automated with playing patients’ requests our top priority.”

The station costs around £25,000 a year to run, relying on revenue from its Boscombe charity shop, supplying public address systems at local events and its annual quiz.

Boasting an impressive vinyl library and CD collection, Hospital Radio Bedside’s president is Alan Dedicoat, better known as ‘The Voice of the Balls’ on BBC’s National Lottery programme.

Trevor said: “Attracting volunteers is a problem; we get a lot of people who just want to be DJs but going round the wards visiting patients is also important. Unlike the hospital TV and phone service, our broadcasts are free and requests can also be submitted via our website, from people with relatives or friends in hospital. As a charity we are really struggling and would really appreciate local businesses sponsoring our programmes.”

To find out more about the worthy cause visit hospitalradiobedside.co.uk