The efforts of hundreds of fundraisers, volunteers and well wishers have been praised by the man in the top job at Swindon’s hospital.

As Great Western Hospital prepares to mark what could be the final clap for carers event tonight, chief executive Kevin McNamara thanked all those who had supported the Marlborough Road NHS trust since the coronavirus crisis started.

In a message posted to social media, Mr McNamara said: “Whilst the pandemic has perhaps been the most challenging period in NHS history, there are lots of good things to come out of it. 

“One of those is that spirit of Swindon that I really hope we can hold onto and retain in the months and years ahead and have that as a lasting legacy of our response to the Covid pandemic.”

Since the hospital was placed on a war footing more than two months ago, Swindon and Wiltshire people have donated more than £140,000 to GWH charity Brighter Futures’ Covid-19 appeal. The cash will go towards supporting staff and volunteers fighting coronavirus on the frontline at the hospital. 

Brighter Futures chief Catherine Newman said: “It’s been incredible. It was a really hard decision whether to do an appeal or not. 

“This is uncharted territory for everybody. We’ve never had this situation happen. We felt everyone’s so impacted by it, everyone’s families need to come first and people have already done so much for us it’s our turn to try and help them. 

“But people started to make donations. It was almost like they were asking us to ask for help.” 

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Swindon's Bus Company staff clap for carers at GWH

More than 430 donors have given £146,000 since the pandemic began. The hospital benefitted from £37,000 given by umbrella group NHS Charities Together from the £20m pot raised by centenarian Captain Tom Moore. 

The cash will be spent on wellbeing support for staff, including on a network of new “wobble rooms” set up around the hospital and at GWH’s North Swindon community nursing hub.

Swindonians have been helping in different ways.

New College tutor Zelda Culley sewed 65 wash bags and mask adjusters for doctors and nurses on the intensive care unit and Shalbourne ward. New school The Deanery Academy donated scores of eye protectors for ward staff in March. 

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Adam Commons (left) finishes his marathon run around the hospital

Swindon Party Warehouse owner Karen Morris raised money to buy thank you treats for NHS workers. The 42-year-old from Nythe, whose daughter Chloe works at the hospital, said: “I’ve got many family members that work for the NHS. We see first-hand how scared these people are when they go on to their shift and how worried they are when they return home in case they pass this horrific virus. And yet they are still going to work.”

Former soldier Adam Commons took part in a 50-mile marathon around the hospital in aid of Brighter Futures. Laura Kirby-Deacon, a sister on the intensive care unit, set up a campaign to get knitters to create woollen hearts for patients on the coronavirus wards.