12 August 2019 CEO Blog Post

A funny old week...

The last week has been one of mixed emotions.

Last Saturday I sobbed my way through Les Miserables (for the 6th time) in Bradford. On the Sunday I sat anxious and tense through a difficult game of football as Liverpool outplayed my beloved City until we triumphed on penalties.  A weekend of up and down emotions.

Into work to see the beautiful Horatio’s Garden and to watch the first patients and families benefit from what is a world class space for our patients with a spinal cord injury. People often struggling to come to terms with life changing circumstances. One patients wife enjoying the sunshine this week described to me the way it had impacted her soul and how much pleasure it had brought, even after a few minutes. What a joy.

Then the very sad news of the death of Mrs Annabelle Rutherford (Simpson), who died peacefully last Monday afternoon following a short illness.  Annabelle and her late husband Alistair Simpson had been involved with the hospital for more than 30 years. Annabelle was League of Friends Executive Committee Chairman for 10 years, then an Executive Committee Member (Trustee) and became President of the League in May 2016 until her death. In the weeks before her death Annabelle remarried and leaves her husband Lindsay, her two daughters and four grandchildren.

Annabelle was a lovely lady. Kind to me in my first few months in the hospital and still very involved. Reading back I noticed that when she stood down as Chairman in 2011 Lady Trevor praised Annabelle for her “leadership, charm and efficiency”. A perfect way of summing up such a lady without ego. Only ever focussed on what she was doing for others.  

Annabelle was heavily involved with the fundraising and planning of the Hydrotherapy Pool, which has benefited thousands of patients since it was built following a major appeal by the League. I  noticed a quote at the time when Annabelle recalled being told that the first spinal injuries patient using the pool, afterwards reporting that it had been the first time in three years he had spent a night without a spasm. “It made it all very worthwhile.” A typical modest reply after a huge fundraising effort.

The week made me reflect how Annabelle’s death and the opening of the Garden somehow represent the circle of life. Endings and beginnings so closely linked. It also made me think that what both of these things have in common is volunteering and fundraising for our Hospital. Neither the pool or the garden or so many others things would have happened or will happen without our League of Friends. They are the link to  our community in so many ways and we are so lucky to have them.

So to all our volunteers in the League of Friends: thank you for all you have done, do and will do. We are only as good as we are because of you.

Kind regards,


Mark Brandreth
Chief Executive


Image of Mark Brandreth, Chief Executive

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