Before joining the madness of Westminster last Monday I had a morning of joy mixed with great sadness. I started by visiting the soon-to-be-opened renal and cancer care unit at West Berkshire Hospital. Whilst this is being staffed and run by the NHS, it has been built with over £4 million of local donations. A remarkable story. The now famous Rosemary Appeal would have taken much longer were it not for the Greenham Trust piling in with a cool £1.5 million to get things going. After seeing the gleaming new renal unit with its state-of-the-art dialysis machines, I went upstairs to see the new cancer care centre. This will be a magnificent addition to our hospital providing all the support cancer sufferers need including chemotherapy, counselling services and complementary therapies. Both units deliver precisely what both kidney and cancer patients want: top quality care close to where they live. A kidney patient needing dialysis currently has an extremely tiring day battling into Reading and then returning exhausted late in the day. One patient has told staff he will be able to walk to get his dialysis.

It was good to see Rob Tatham, David Ball and Paul Millard bursting with pride at their collective endeavour. Whilst they would say that there are many others involved in the Rosemary Appeal, their leadership of Newbury and District Cancer Care Trust and their joint working with West Berkshire Hospital League of Friends and the NHS has driven this project. There was one other notable local who, perhaps more than any other, has helped make our hospital the force for good it has become. Nick Galbraith was a local vet who managed the legacy of someone called Rosemary Rooke. She donated land in her will for the hospital and it is after her that the Rosemary Appeal is named. It was this generosity, coupled with Nick’s charm and determination, that made our hospital become a reality. Sadly Nick died recently at West Berkshire Hospital, just before he was able to see the new units fully functioning. After my visit, I joined Rob, David, Paul and many others in Chieveley at Nick’s funeral. Few can have a better legacy than that which Nick has delivered for generations of West Berkshire residents.