Harrogate Lions raise thousands for state-of-the-art hospital equipment

Members of the Harrogate Lions with Gavin Walters, Ros Tolcher and Sandra Dodson
Members of the Harrogate Lions with Gavin Walters, Ros Tolcher and Sandra Dodson

Harrogate District Hospital welcomed two new state-of-the-art laser eye machines at a presentation on Thursday, February 19, after a Harrogate Lions community project raised £80,000 towards it.

The Harrogate Eye Laser Project (HELP) originated after a member of the Lions was treated for a diabetic eye related problem and a business plan was born to replace the existing eight-year-old unit at the hospital.

Currently around 500 sight preserving laser eye treatments per year take place at Harrogate hospital but, with the new machines, more people of all ages can be treated.

Through fundraising appeals going out to a number of trust funds as well as coffee mornings, race nights, sponsored walks and donations from other Lions clubs, the money was raised in just 10 months.

As a result of the money raised by the club, the hospital has been able to purchase one new laser to help prevent blindness, mainly caused by diabetes, and another to help treat glaucoma.

Mr Gavin Walters, the consultant ophthalmic surgeon, said that the appeal was welcomed by the hospital as there had been a general increase of sight threatening diabetic eye disease.

He said: “Modern laser technology allows faster treatment times enabling more patients to receive this sight treatment with shorter waits and the added benefit of reduced discomfort during the procedure.

“With the increase in incidence and numbers of referrals for diabetic retinopathy there has been an increase in demand for this sight saving treatment.

“I think it’s been a great experience and shows the community and the hospital can work together and when we do get together we are a powerful group of people.

“The purchase of the laser will help prevent blindness for many people for years to come. All I can say on behalf of the hospital is thank you very much for all the work you have put in.”

Sandra Dodson, Chairman of Harrogate and District NHS Foundation, also expressed her gratitude to the Harrogate Lions as the money raised for the new machines would have a positive impact on patient experience.

She said: “Not only does that give it a better clinical outcome but there is much less pain so the patient experience is really high which is so important to us.

“I think you have pushed forward through all your efforts in being able to give us not just one but two new machines so, on behalf of the Trust, a huge thanks to everybody at the Lions.”

Eric Wright, Chairman of the Projects at Harrogate Lions, said: “One thing that helped us was that it was a project that touched many families so when we started to sell it was not too difficult as people could relate to it.

“We were sad that it ended as it has been a very rewarding experience and made us many friends. We are also immensely proud in raising in excess of £80,000 from a small club of 19 members in less than a year.”L