Staff outdoor seating area

NHS Hero Captain Sir Tom Moore’s funds support North Devon District Hospital’s charity “Over and Above”

NATIONAL hero Captain Sir Tom Moore raised almost £33 million for the NHS by walking laps of his garden.   The money is being distributed to NHS charities in stages through grants to support staff and patients through Covid-19.  North Devon District Hospital has so far received a magnificent £109,500 from the first stage of grants and there is more to follow.

Over and Above Fundraising Manager Ian Roome said “We were thrilled to receive this money and have used it to support  Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust in the the initial stages of this devasting pandemic.”

Over and Above is spending £50,000 towards a new staff shower block and lockers to reduce the risk of infection, and protect our staff and their families. This will also be available to staff who walk and cycle to work.

Staff outdoor seating area

Northern Devon Healthcare staff enjoying the staff outdoor area

The rest of the NHS grant funds has enabled the charity to support staff by building a dedicated permanent outdoor staff area – the staff now have their own space where they can  unwind and recuperate away from the demands of their front line pressures and have the opportunity to talk and support one another during this time.  Initially the charity provided a temporary facility in the Fern Cancer and Wellbeing Support Centre (when it was closed to patients during peak Covid19) and Project Wingman, a partnership with furloughed airline crews, created an airport lounge environment serving donated drinks and snacks, which was extremely well received.

Funds have also been used to train nurse leaders to take part in the Florence Nightingale Foundation nurse leadership course.  A smart TV has been purchased for staff to interact with remote teams through zoom and some of the funds have been used towards the safety and wellbeing of hospital volunteers.

Over and Above also used the funds to purchase two ipads to enable patients to communicate with their loved ones during Covid19.  These ipads played such an important role during lockdown – they were a social lifeline for patients and their families, and have evoked very special lasting memories.  Patient Experience Co-ordinator Lisa Townsend said “The ipads are being used regularly every day and we have been seeing “happy” tears from patients and their families because they can see their loved ones.  They’ve enabled families to reconnect and give support to one another when they have needed it most.”

Additional earphones were also purchased which enabled our inpatients to hear the TV during their stay, and an interactive board has been purchased to support our patients with dementia to help and encourage them to engage and reminisce, which has helped minimise wanderings and avoid breaching of social distancing rules.

Northern Devon’s cancer patients have also benefitted.  Many cancer patients expressed their concern at being “extremely vulnerable” and some need additional wellbeing support.  In the first instance the charity set up virtual support apps for patients, and some patients have designed the Fern Cancer and Wellbeing Centre social distancing garden though zoom during lockdown with a local designer.  The plans are awaiting final approval and works will be started shortly.

The NHS Together monies are making a difference to patients and staff at Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, and the charity will soon be able to apply for the next phase of grants available.

Chairman of Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, James Brent, said “We would like to thank Captain Sir Tom Moore for thinking of NHS charities when he completed his amazing fundraising feat. Thanks to Captain Tom, we have been able to put improvements in for our staff to support them as they continue to work through the COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot thank him – and our staff – enough.”

If you would like to give your support to the hospital charity Over and Above, or want to find out more, please visit; and the charity’s Facebook page or contact the North Devon District Hospital Fundraising Team on 01271 311772 or email or email

Heather Walters


40 year old Heather Walters of Barnstaple celebrated her birthday and breathed a sigh of relief when she walked into the Over and Above Fern Cancer and Wellbeing Centre last week.

Heather campaigning for a support centre at the very start. She with a group of five other breast care patients met with Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust in 2016 to find out how patients could be offered a facility similar to the Force Cancer Support Centre in Exeter.    Force in Exeter was too far for them to travel for “drop in” support, particularly when they felt so unwell.  They wanted a centre that they could access locally.

She was thrilled when the hospital charity Over and Above launched an appeal in August 2017 and the building works started in April 2019 to support people living with and beyond cancer and their families with an attached overnight accommodation wing to support families.

Heather said

“I was 34 years old, happily married with two small children when I was diagnosed with a HER2+ breast cancer. My world instantly turned upside down and inside out. I remember coming out of the hospital in silence with my husband, Tristan after being told the words no one wants to hear. We had got into the car and Tristan turned and looked at me saying “how are we going to explain to the children why you have no hair? We both broke down.

I knew I wanted an easy way to keep friends and family in the loop with how my treatment was going so I set up a Facebook page, ‘Check Yourself, Don’t Wreck Yourself’. I never in my wildest dreams expected it to be shared as much as it did and very quickly it turned into a blog that was being read from all corners of the world. It was a lifeline for me, apart from my family it gave me a purpose to get up every day, and even if it helped one other person it made it worthwhile.

I wrote on the blog daily, and I felt it was important for it to be honest and real, showing that people of any age can get cancer.  The support I received from people of North Devon was phenomenal and before long we were creating crazy ways to raise awareness and money. Mum and Dad’s shop, Youings had scaffolding up for building repairs and we decided to cover it with donated bras, over 1000 of them. It was certainly eye catching and very satisfying seeing tourists taking a picture of it.

I was then invited by The North Devon Journal to write my very own column, again sharing my cancer journey, which I found so therapeutic and developed a real love of writing. Astonishingly, I was later nominated for Columnist of the Year for the South West.

The campaign was growing and growing, after having a conversation with my sisters we decided that the blog needed a song and with that a flash mob! A friend re wrote the Taylor Swift song, ‘Shake it off’ to ‘Check yourself’ lyrics and during my fifth round of chemotherapy we performed it down Barnstaple High Street. This was amazing, and I never would have believed the response on social media. It went viral and has now been mimicked in 5 different countries around the world, something I am incredibly proud of.

I finished treatment, chemotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy, and Herceptin in 2015 and wanted to organise something ‘big’ to raise some more money for charity. We decided to have an evening dinner, dance and auction, where we would get celebrities to sign bras or pants and WOW the public rallied behind me and it was amazing who knew who in the celebrity world, we ended up with about 50! The highlight pieces were signed by Ed Sheeran, Kelly Brook and Manchester United. I truly was hoping for about £20-£50 for each pair and when the first auction started the first up was Ian Wright’s, I was blown away when the hammer went for £80. This set the tone and the fun began. We made nearly £20,000 that night for Coppafeel. I was so surprised and utterly grateful.

I was very aware of the lack of services available to me at the time and more importantly in the aftermath post treatment. I relied on the wonderful staff in the Chemo Unit for advice and support. When I reached rock bottom, it took my mum weeks to find a counsellor for me which we had to pay for, and this ignited a spark in my belly. I had met some inspirational friends in the cancer world along the way and we created a patient group to start the process and raise awareness for the need of a Cancer Support Centre here in North Devon similar to the Force Centre in Exeter, which we had all accessed and valued through our treatment

In 2016, Tristan wanted a piece of the action and bribed a team consisting of family members, including my dad, and friends to climb Mount Meru in Tanzania to raise money for the centre. It was a huge achievement, one that I think non-of them would do again but provided life-long memories, unity, and pride. All wearing ‘Check Yourself’ t-shirts throughout, never missing an opportunity to raise some awareness of cancer across the world, Julie Whitton would have been proud, and they raised thousands.

Meanwhile, we were of grafting, writing business plans and increasing the awareness of the ‘need’. We realised for our dream to become a reality it had to be at the hospital and fast forward four years to now! Amazing!!! Although sadly only a few of the original ‘gang’ are involved in the Patient Voice but we have formed a wonderful alliance with the NHS staff and the NHS Over and Above hospital charity, who I genuinely call my friends. As with anything that is created on this scale, it hasn’t come without some frustrations but as a united team we have all been singing from the same hymn sheet to create The Fern Centre with patients always at the forefront of our mind. We hope the centre, will provide the deserved resources and services to support patients and their families in any way they need. It is super exciting, and I have been extremely proud to have been a part of it.”

Heather is a trained complementary therapist at Ocean Beauty at Barnstaple and has recently focussed her fundraising towards the massage couches, complementary therapy and equipment for the serenity garden.   She and her family and friends have raised an incredible £9,027 and she was delighted to show her family “bubble” around the Centre last week.

To find out more about the Fern Cancer and Wellbeing Centre visit or contact the Centre Manager Tasmin Andrew on 01271 311855.

So far, thanks to the amazing support from the people of North Devon the hospital charity Over and Above has raised £1.3 million towards the Cancer and Wellbeing Centre’s £1.5million target.  If you would like to give your support to the hospital charity Over and Above, or want to find out more, please visit; and the charity’s Facebook page or contact the North Devon District Hospital Fundraising Team on 01271 311772 or email

Heather Walters Tas & Heather

Photographs: Fern Cancer and Wellbeing Manager Tasmin Andrew and Heather Walters


For more information about this press release, call the Fundraising Team in the fundraising office on 01271 311772 or e-mail

Richard Barnes

Richard’s One Legged Bike Ride

Having survived Necrotising Fasciitis (an incurable flesh eating disease), Leukaemia, sepsis, a stroke, a brain swell and a hip Disarticulated Amputation in 2018, Richard Barnes from Ilfracombe started to ride an exercise bike with one leg during lockdown and has set his sights on cycling 300km during July 2020 with the bike set on the highest difficulty level.

Richard said: ‘The reason I’m doing this is to give back to North Devon District Hospital, and in particular the ICU that saved my life so many times.

I walked into A&E on Sunday 10th June 2018 and was quickly diagnosed with Necrotising Fasciitis and a rare form of Leukaemia. I had emergency surgery right away and had my left leg amputated at the hip. With my blood pressure through the floor and fighting Sepsis and numerous other issues I finally came out of a coma after 2 weeks. Unfortunately a week later I had a rare brain swell (PRES) and a stroke and was induced into a deep coma for another week.

I wasn’t expected to survive the surgery, there were numerous times during my first coma that I wasn’t expect to make it and after my PRES my family were told there was no way back and spent a day saying their goodbyes.

Despite all this the Staff at the hospital and in truth NHS consultants all over the country (My illness was unique) never gave up on me. They did everything humanly possible to save me and succeeded.  I off course had massive help in my recovery as well; I couldn’t swallow for 4 months after the stroke and of course there was the Chemo.

Thanks to them and my family I have my life back on track and I am absolutely enjoying the second chance I’ve been given. It seems to me the least I can do is try to raise a little money and help in any small way I can, after all I owe them everything.’

Over and Above supports the work of your local Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust by fundraising ‘Over and Above’ what the NHS is able to provide to make a real difference to patients, their families and the amazing staff that treat them. Josh Allan from Over and Above said, ‘Richard’s story is incredibly inspiring. We have no doubt he’ll exhibit more of his fighting spirit and determination to smash the challenge and raise lots of money for ICU. Thank you Richard and good luck!’

Richard Barnes

For more details or to sponsor Richard please visit his fundraising page

To find other ways to support Over and Above please visit or contact a member of our fundraising team on 01271 311772 or

Draeger Ventilator


The Steel Charitable Trust has generously donated two Draeger Evita V500 ventilators to North Devon District Hospital for use on its Intensive Care Unit.

The ventilators, which were donated before the COVID-19 outbreak and are already in use, were given in memory of Steel Charitable Trust trustee Jim Hawkins.

The Steel Charitable Trust Manager, Isla Stanger said “The Steel Charitable Trust is pleased to honour the memory of its late Trustee, Anthony ‘Jim’ Hawkins – who died just over a year ago – by enabling the hospital to purchase these ICU ventilators.

“Jim was involved with The Steel Charitable Trust for over 35 years and was a keen supporter of many projects in the South West, particularly Devon where he lived with his wife, Maureen, for many years. It is thanks to Maureen, working with the hospital to identify the most beneficial and suitable use for Jim’s memorial grant, that the ventilators were chosen, and we hope they prove successful in aiding the recovery of many patients.”

Over and Above fundraiser Julie Whitton said “I knew Jim – he was a remarkable and inspirational man.  He was very kind, supportive and an active member of his local community.  He attended many live events and performances that I organised in the village where I live. His sudden passing was a great shock, and he is much missed by us all.

“We are overwhelmed by the kind generosity of The Steel Charitable Trust and Jim’s wife Maureen on the donation of these state-of-the-art ventilators, which will help our patients who need support with their breathing.”

The Steel Charitable Trust donated a total of £54,167 for the ventilators, which will offer a combined fully-featured, high performance ventilation system with the Infinity Acute Care System.

North Devon District Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit and High Dependency Unit provides specialist care for those who need close monitoring and more intensive treatments.

ICU Clinical Matron Juliet Parkin said: “The majority of those patients admitted to ICU will require some level of support for their respiratory system, from receiving oxygen through a mask for a few hours to those who require full support of their respiratory system.

“These state-of-the-art new ventilators will be of great value. The multiple modes available mean that we can maximise the benefits to our patients by assisting their breathing in a way that supports their natural breathing pattern. We truly cannot thank The Steel Charitable Trust enough for their generous donation.”

To find out more about the hospital charity please visit; and the charity’s Facebook page or contact the North Devon District Hospital Fundraising Team on 01271 311772 or email

 For further information about The Steel Charitable Trust or email

Draeger Ventilator


(L-R):   Over and Above Fundraiser Julie Whitton and ICU Clinical Educator Jackie West


For more information about this press release, call the Fundraising Team in the fundraising office on 01271 311772 or e-mail

Additional information:

North Devon’s ICU unit has a long history of providing an excellent standard of nursing and medical care to the people of North Devon as well as visitors to the area.  The staff are constantly receiving up-to-date training using the best, research based practice.  It is therefore important to us that we offer the best state of the art equipment.  The new ventilators will enable the Intensive Care Unit team to continue their excellent care and enhance their work.

North Devon District Hospital is the most remote acute hospital in mainland England and offers an excellent high dependency service and intensive care unit to the local community.

Finley in SCBU


Chalade Hayes, aged 31 and her friend Maddie Collins, aged 27 of Bradworthy are taking up the challenge of skydiving 15,000 feet to support babies that need special care.

Their skydives take place on Saturday 2nd May at Dunkeswell Airfield near Honiton.    Chalade is fundraising in aid of North Devon District Hospital’s charity “Over and Above” to support their Special Care Baby Unit and Maddie is raising her funds for Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity – The Grand Appeal”.

Chalade said “We’ve come up with some crazy ideas over time but this one definitely tops them all.  As people may or may not know our families were both unfortunate enough to have to use Over and Above and The Grand Appeal charity situated in Bristol Children’s Hospital for our little boys; Finley now aged 4 and Riley now aged 2.  I say unfortunate, but without them our boys may not be here today and we cannot thank both the charities enough for saving their lives. So we are going to throw ourselves out of a plane at15,000ft to try and help raise some money to say thank you and hopefully help them save more children’s lives or help towards some life-saving equipment for them.”

“Chalade said “My little boy Finley came into this world 3 weeks early but all was fine, we went home the same day to start our family as a four.    Five days later things quickly became apparent that something was wrong, he wasn’t feeding, sleeping and was very jaundice. We took him to Barnstaple children’s ward and they took blood tests. We waited for the results. We were then greeted by a crash team ready to take Finley away to HDCU they weren’t sure what was the cause of Finley’s problem but surely enough he deteriorated very quickly and his organs started shutting down.  If it wasn’t for the team’s quick response he would have died.

They treated Finley with antibiotics which covered all aspects. We were told Finley’s bilirubin levels were so high we need to prepare ourselves as he may be brain damaged. He was moved into SCBU but they realised he needed more extensive care which couldn’t be done there.  Finley was then vented and moved to Bristol Children’s hospital ICU.

When we arrived Finley was hooked up to his own little bay where he was under 24 hour care. He underwent a lot of tests and scans and after 48 hours and a lumbar puncture Finley was diagnosed with Meningitis and Sepsis. We stayed in Bristol for 4 days and were then transferred back to Barnstaple children’s ward where we stayed for 2 days before being discharged home.

Without the support of our families, friends and the amazing work from the hospitals we don’t know if our little happy funny amazing boy would be here today. I know what we raise won’t cure all sick children or buy all the equipment that’s needed but I hope it at least helps a little bit.   No amount of money will ever be enough to say thank you for saving our sons’ lives but we at least hope it will help.

So please any money you can spare to help other children and families in this situation is gratefully received. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story.

Over and Above Fundraiser Julie Whitton said “Charlade and Maddie have thrown themselves into their fundraising and any support you can give would be much appreciated.  The money they raise will enable us to purchase much needed equipment over and above that which the NHS can provide – they truly are amazing.”

If you would like to give your support to the hospital charity Over and Above, or want to find out more, please and the charity’s Facebook page or contact the North Devon District Hospital Fundraising Team on 01271 311772 or email

Finley age 4

Finley in SCBU


  • Chalade Hayes, aged 31 and Finley Hayes aged 4
  • Finley Hayes in SCBU


For more information about this press release, call the Fundraising Team in the fundraising office on 01271 311772 or e-mail

Primark cheque

BARNSTAPLE Primark staff have been busy fundraising

BARNSTAPLE Primark staff have been very busy fundraising for the Cancer and Wellbeing Centre at North Devon District Hospital.

They raised £1,000 at their staff social events with guess the number of sweets in the jar, name the teddy and a bake off breakfast and cake sale.  Deputy Manager Annalise said “We are having fun raising funds for such a great cause.  We have lots more fundraising activities planned including 8 staff members taking on the Berry Beast abseil and a sponsored walk and breakfast at the end of January”.

Over and Above Fundraiser Julie Whitton said “It is fantastic to see the staff so committed to getting our Cancer and Wellbeing Centre up and running so that we can give support to our patients locally.  They are amazing”.

L-R  Primark Manager Mark Pickin, Over and Above Fundraiser Julie Whitton, Primark Deputy Manager Annalise Phillips


volunteers wanted for new cancer

New year, new challenge – volunteers wanted for new cancer centre

If you are looking for a new challenge in 2020 or are interested in volunteering but have wondered how to get started, the Cancer and Wellbeing Centre needs you!

Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust are holding a volunteer open day on Saturday 18 January at North Devon District Hospital to recruit volunteers for the new centre.

The start of the New Year often gives people an opportunity to reflect on their lifestyle and set some goals for the year ahead. For many, these goals may be focussed around doing something to support their local community or to help with a worthwhile cause.

volunteers wanted for new cancer centre

Tasmin Andrew, centre manager, said: “The centre is going to be a wonderful resource for the patients of North Devon. If there was ever a worthwhile cause, this is it!

“I’m looking forward to working with a new team of volunteers and complementary therapists, who will be well supported and trained for their roles. If you’d like to know more, come along to our open day, we’d love to see you.”

The centre will be a place where patients with cancer, as well as their loved ones, can find support at any stage of their journey. The centre will provide a comfortable and welcoming environment, and its volunteers will play a vital role in running it.

There are vacancies for people to act as administrators, gardeners, meet and greeters and complementary therapists.

Volunteering has many benefits. It can help you to make new friends and contacts, increase your social and relationship skills and increase your self-confidence. It’s good for your mind, body and soul, and good for improving your career options.

One of our newest volunteers Marian explained why she was looking forward to working in the new Cancer and Wellbeing Centre: “I want to help people in the local community. I feel that myself and my family have benefitted so much from the NHS over the years that it’s time to give something back. Everyone has been lovely and I’m really excited about getting started!”

The volunteer open day will be held at the Seamoor Unit at North Devon District Hospital, with sessions starting at 10am and 12 noon.

At the open day, potential volunteers can meet the staff involved, find out more about the roles available, the support and training that will be given, pick up an information pack and take part in some group activities.

For more information about vacancies and the benefits of volunteering, visit or call 01271 313933 or email for a volunteer information pack.

Jean Newcombe's charity wreaths cheque presentation - 19.12.19

Thank You Jean

Over and Above volunteer Jean Newcombe made lots of beautiful wreaths for Christmas and she donated £5 for every wreath sold to the Cancer and Wellbeing Centre Appeal.   She raised a magnificent £65 to support the building of the new Cancer Support Centre.

Over and Above Fundraiser Julie Whitton said “Jean works tirelessly as a volunteer for our hospital charity and we can’t thank her enough for her generous donation which will help us to support our patients.”