Radio has been a part of everyday life for the patients and staff of Southlands Hospital since February 1972, when Southlands Hospital Broadcasting Service was set up by a handful of volunteers.
The very first studio was based in a disused butcher’s store in the hospital grounds; it needed to be fully converted into a studio before the radio station could go live on the air.
After several fundraising events, including a Charity Disco and raffle, and a donation from the hospital’s League of Friends the service was off to a flying start!
Whilst construction of the studio was carried out a constitution was agreed and plans were also under way for programming material and these included contacting Kenny Everett and Cliff Richard. Tony Hender was the first Chairman and was in charge of programme content and seeing that the presenters were up to standard.
By July 1972, the studios were fully operational and so the presenters began practising to ensure they were ready for the inauguration. The first show was broadcast on Sunday, September 24th 1972 and the first tune played was "Gentle on My Mind" sung by Dean Martin.
In May 1974 a meeting was held, heralding the new ‘Radio Southlands’. A membership fee of £1 per member was introduced. Dave Field, one of our long-standing members was present at this meeting.
Outside the original studio in the early days, Radio Southlands team members from left, Ian Woods, Diane Summers, Dave Vickery, Yvonne Newsom and Dave Field.
By 1980 the station was getting set to start broadcasting from its brand new studios within the main newly constructed hospital building at Southlands, and in June of that year the team of volunteers welcomed popular DJ and celebrity Alan Freeman (then of Capital Radio) to officially open the new home for Radio Southlands.
Radio Southlands members Dave Field and Diane Baron with the legendary Alan Freeman
In March 1982, Dave Herrington took on the role of Chief Engineer, having joined the station 4 years earlier. He went on to hold that title for nearly 20 years and made a huge contribution to the station in that time. So much so, each year a special award is given to a member of the station who has made a significant contribution to the running of the service.
Dave Herrington with fellow presenter Piers Culpit at a fundraising event
Also that same year, Sid Sivyer was introduced to Radio Southlands by another member Dave Vickery. Starting off as a presenter, Sid had also been Chairman and had always been actively involved with the organisation of the station during his time with us.
In November 1984, Radio Southlands had a visit from Regional Television presenter Fred Dinenage who did the honours by officially opening our new studio (yes another one!) and giving a live interview with Dave Herrington. He later visited patients and signed photographs.
Mr Dinenage was Vice-President of the station for nearly 20 years.
Fred Dinenage with Chairman Sid Sivyer talking to guests at the official opening of the new Radio Southlands studios way back in 1984
A researcher from BBC Radio 4 visited the studios in March 1985 to make a programme about the role of young people in hospital radio. The feature was based entirely upon Radio Southlands and was later transmitted during the 'programmes for schools' slot.
Another anniversary in 1987, celebrating 15 years of the service, we invited national radio and TV personality (and former member) Simon Mayo to officially open the refurbished studio 2. That same year, the station became an officially registered charity, number 297515.
pictured left to right: Dave Vickery, Peter Courtney, former chairman Sid Sivyer and current chairman Dean Fieldus
A selection of Radio Southlands team members from around the late 1980s.
The Decision was taken in 1988 to discontinue the use of hand-held radio units by patients. These were replaced by an induction loop system throughout the hospital on a Low-Power AM signal, and each bedside had the use of a radio provided by the station and the League of Friends of Southlands Hospital.
A new era: front to back - Dave Vickery, Sid Sivyer and Dean Fieldus modelling the new ward radios
What a task! By the early 1990's (and shortly after our 21st birthday celebrations) the station underwent some major structural changes, with 2 brand new studios and reception area. The new much larger Studio 1 was extended, whilst studio 2 took over the old storage room for the power and transmission. The old two studios were now a very large reception area and record library!
Yes, we celebrated yet another birthday at Southlands in 1997 (always a celebration going on!). 25 years broadcasting. The whole year was dedicated to this anniversary, with various events throughout the year, maximising fundraising, publicity and volunteer potential, and a special 'anniversary dinner and dance' for all of the station's members and their families.
Members and invited guests enjoying the celebrations for our 25th birthday
In 1999 Radio Southlands took a step onto the internet, with the launch of a new website. It included member profiles, pictures of the station, information about the work we do and also how others can get involved.
The website is still going strong (now in version 5!) and is much more Interact, making it easy for patients, listeners and supporters to contact us and find out more information.
In late 2003 Discussions with Coastway Hospital Radio (based in Brighton) raise the possibility of Radio Southlands providing programmes to the patients, staff and visitors of Worthing Hospital, thus taking the burden off Coastway for transmission from Brighton to Worthing.
At the Radio Southlands Annual General Meeting held the following February, members voted to change the name of the organisation to "Seaside Hospital Radio", as part of the extension of our broadcasting services to include Worthing Hospital and on 1st April, Radio Southlands officially took on the broadcasting rights to Worthing Hospital.
The station as it's now known - Seaside Hospital Radio - was officially launched during an open day at the studios on May 15th 2004 and our new website went live. During this broadcast, Dave Field received a certificate live on air, for his 30 years service to the organisation. Dave Field & Dave Vickery (our longest serving members with more than 60 years between them) broadcast the last ever programme on Radio Southlands.
At 1pm, Dean Fieldus, Chairman launched the all new Seaside Hospital Radio service, the first record played was "Seaside Rendezvous" by Queen.
On Thursday 28th July 2005 at 10.35pm, Seaside Hospital Radio began broadcasting to Worthing Hospital. Patients in Worthing could now tune in to their Hospital Radio Station by the simple click of a button on their bedside entertainment system, and hear us in high quality digital sound.
The first presenter to air over the new inter-hospital link was Bob Burgess and the first track was "Speed of Sound" by Coldplay off their XY album.
Seaside HR team photo - 2006
In 2009 the station entered the world of 24-hour broadcasting, setting up a non-stop service of entertainment and information for the listeners, with both pre-recorded and live studio output round the clock.
We were fortunate to be awarded £5,000 from Adur District Council's 'Pot of Gold' fund in 2010, which allowed us to purchase some much needed technical equipment, improve the radio link to Worthing Hospital from our Southlands Hospital studios and also expand our now much used computer playout system.
Seaside Team photo - 2010
The station continues the service it always has done, great free entertainment for the patients of Worthing Hospital and Southlands.
The current crop of Seaside Hospital Radio members!
Now in our 40th year as a voluntary organisation, we are looking forward to celebrating with the community this year, with many events to mark the ocassion.
The membership and supporters of the station are as dedicated and committed to providing a professional and enjoyable service and we hope this will continue for many more years to come.