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Extraordinary Fundraising

Kate Clarke, resident at Bridgemead, really understands what an extensive range of fundraising initiatives there are for a good cause and how important even tiny individual contributions are.

Kate worked at The Royal United Hospital, between 1972 and 2001, as Chief Medical Librarian. When she retired, she researched the Hospital Minute Books, which record administration and a very diverse range of fundraising by the people of Bath, to keep this voluntary hospital going between 1827and 1947 when it became part of the National Health Service.

Methods included:

  • Annual subscriptions and legacies
  • Poetry competition: In 1776 Sir John Miller bought a huge, ornate vase back from his Grand Tour of Italy and placed it in the window of his house in Batheaston. He held a poetry competition, inviting Bathonians to place their poems in the vase. This competition appealed to the literary and cultured citizens and visitors and the road to his house was blocked with coaches delivering poems. The best entries were sold to raise funds.
  • Annual Batchelor Ball
  • Penny readings – talks where a penny entrance fee was collected
  • Carol singing
  • Bath Bazaar – raising £1884 (equivalent to £76,000 today) in 1865 to continue building an extension where builders were striking, the architect was threatening to sue and scaffolders removing poles
  • “Compensation for slander”, in 1890’s a mysterious gift of five guineas was sent anonymously over several years but the shame faced donor was never discovered
  • Produce: landowners sent venison, pheasants and hare and a village school in Combe Hay gave 285 bunches of primroses
  • A mile of pennies (which only made half a mile)
  • And most bizarrely of all, a collection of Egyptian Mummy heads donated by Colonel Cross’s family in 1885.

“It’s all true, and was fascinating”, she says, “as I read every one of the Minute Books.”

Kate really enjoyed carrying out this research for her book “The Royal United Hospital: A social history 1747-1947” showing the changing conditions for patients and staff through the years, and how the community supported the hospital. She has been responsible for significant fund raising herself: giving many talks on the RUH’s early history to local history groups, Townswomen’s guilds and to professional medical bodies raising money for Royal United Hospital, Dorothy House and other local charities.

Kate supports the fundraising for the new wing. She says: “I’m really fond of the staff here, they are fantastic to me.  The river view is wonderful, it has been flowing here for thousands of years and is still going on. I love to see the bright canoes going by and all the activity there.”



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