County Show to back live-saving County Hospital Development

Dorset County Show has announced its chosen Charity of the Year is Dorset County Hospital Charity.

In what is set to be the largest investment in healthcare provision in West Dorset in 25 years, the hospital is planning to build a new Emergency Department (ED) and Critical Care Unit on the site of the former Damers First School. This will significantly improve the hospital’s capacity and transform the experience of patients and their families.

Dorset County Hospital Charity is running a £2.5M Capital Appeal to fund enhancements to the planned new Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit.

Nicki Ralph, Chair of the region’s largest annual agricultural show, knows all too well how vital the critical care services at the local hospital are. Her farmer husband, Nic, was admitted last year with total kidney failure and sepsis. He spent nearly three weeks in a coma in intensive care, 11 of those days on life support.

Nicki said: “This truly is a cause close to my heart. My family are indebted to the incredible support the hospital gave my husband who, without a shadow of a doubt, wouldn’t be alive today without their unstinting help. All the staff were amazing. They left no stone unturned to find out the cause of my husband’s sudden deterioration.”

She added: “It was all so sudden! One minute my husband was in Accident and Emergency feeling very unwell, the next he was fighting for his life. Many of us may end up in A&E or hospital but none of us know when we may need intensive care.”

Simon Pearson, Head of Charity for the hospital said: “Nic was one of over 50,000 people treated in our Emergency Department annually. It was originally built for less than half of that – 22,000 attendances. Clearly, there is currently insufficient Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit capacity at Dorset County Hospital to meet current and future demand.”

He added: “This is our biggest ever fundraising project. This Appeal will raise funds for enhanced facilities and additional medical equipment, making patient care even better. It will also fund artistic elements in both new units to create a sympathetic and healing environment for the benefit of all.”

The Dorset County Show, which already raises thousands of pounds annually for local charities, is planning a fundraising Tractor Run on Sunday 25th June. Starting at Cheselbourne, tractors of all sizes, ages and makes will trundle to Piddletrenthide and back, offering a rural spectacle for drivers and spectators alike. Ahead of the Dorset County Show, which takes place on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd September, there will also be a Dorset-themed Charity Night on Wednesday 30th August, hosted at the Dorchester Showground with music, bingo and bring-your-own food.

Dorset County Hospital Charity will have a stand at the Show where visitors will be able to find out more about the hospital plans and donate to the Appeal.

Show organiser James Cox said: “The experiences of our Chair Nicki and her husband have highlighted the fact none of us know when we may need critical care. To have state-of-the art resources on hand at our local hospital makes us incredibly fortunate. We’re delighted to fundraise for this fantastic cause.”

Stalwart 67-year-old Nic, who is now recovering well at home, is aiming to do some fundraising himself for the hospital once he is fully recovered.

Giant vegetables, prize cows, Dorset crafts and foods, monster trucks, axemen in action and hoe-down music – the Dorset County Show has a line-up of amazing attractions. Tickets .

For more information on the charity Tractor Run visit:

To find out more about the project visit:
New Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit  | Dorset County Hospital (

To find out more about fundraising for Dorset County Hospital. please email or phone the Dorset County Hospital Charity team on 01305 253215.

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