170,000 hours and counting! Hospital Radio Ipswich turns 50

Hospital Radio Ipswich production manager Tim Ward and chairman John Alborough

Hospital Radio Ipswich production manager Tim Ward and chairman John Alborough - Credit: Hospital Radio Ipswich

Hospital Radio Ipswich is planning a special weekend of non-stop programming to mark its 50th anniversary.

As well as current patients, people across the area and further afield will also be able to tune in via the web. 

The station has grown steadily from its humble beginnings in the boiler room of the then Anglesea Road Hospital on October 4, 1971, when it became the first radio station based in Suffolk. It is now based in a state-of-the art new studio at Heath Road.

To celebrate its half century, HRI will broadcast live from 7pm on Friday, October 1 through to midnight on Sunday, October 3.

Production manager Tim Ward said: "If you work out the mathematics, we are actually broadcasting live for 53 consecutive hours."

The station has broadcast more than 170,000 hours in its 50 years and played countless requests from its music collection, which includes more than 120,000 tracks. 

During the celebrations, Ipswich MP Tom Hunt MP will call in, and there will also be returns of HRI presenters from over the years.

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This will include programmes from former BBC Radio Suffolk favourite Stephen Foster, who is now with Radio Caroline and matchday announcer at Ipswich Town, and Patrick Eade, who has worked for Ipswich 102, BFBS and Radio Orwell. 

HRI chairman John Alborough, who has been volunteering with the station since 1974, will also feature.

John said: "It can be a lonely and worrying experience being in hospital. We are keen to bridge the gap with the outside world and ask that anyone wishing to reach a patient with a music request, a dedication or simple message, then please let us know."

Hospital Radio Ipswich legend Terry Betts, who celebrated his 80th birthday last Christmas as he marked an amazing 40 years of commentating on Ipswich Town matches, is also due to take part.

A highlight will be two feature-length programmes where the station reveals its 50 all-time most requested tracks - and then a day later its top 50 most-requested artists.

The weekend will begin on Friday evening with a special programme presented by Derick Holman, and end on Sunday with Moira Burt. The three-day event is being sponsored by Fizzwig Designs.

For more details and to listen or make requests, visit the HRI website.

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