A THREE-YEAR fundraising effort which has involved hundreds of Barnsley residents will improve the lives of dementia sufferers in the town - after a huge target was finally smashed to boost patients’ facilities.

Barnsley Hospital Charity’s Make A Memory Appeal reached £300,000 - and bosses say it’s thanks to the ‘overwhelmingly generous’ support of local people who have chipped in since 2021.

The target was established to transform the care of the elderly ward at Barnsley Hospital into a homely, calm and relaxing environment which supports all older patients - in particular those living with dementia - allowing them to take part in a wide range of activities ranging from keep-fit classes to arts and crafts and electronic games.

Planning is already underway involving expert architects and designers, patients and their families, with work expected to be completed in 2025, bosses told the Chronicle this week.

Barnsley Hospital’s chief executive, Dr Richard Jenkins, said: “The transformation of the ward and equipment will make a real difference to older patients and those living with dementia, and to Barnsley Hospital staff.

“It will offer a tranquil, welcoming and spacious environment purpose-designed for these patients.”

Figures show there are currently more than 2,000 people in Barnsley with a diagnosis of dementia.

Bays and bedrooms will be painted in different colours with co-ordinated furniture to help people find their way back to their beds easier, and the hospital will be able to work more closely with patients and their families.

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It follows on from the success of the Tiny Hearts Appeal which raised £1m to create a new neonatal unit for premature babies.

Chair of Barnsley Hospital’s board, Sheena McDonnell, added: “We have been amazed, humbled and thrilled by the response of local people from across Barnsley and beyond who have donated, fundraised and volunteered.

“We are hugely grateful for every single donation which will enable us to transform the ward and we cannot thank everyone enough.”

Since the appeal started at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, fundraisers had to adapt their money-making methods to ensure that it was undertaken safely.

Since restrictions were lifted, fundraisers have raised money in all kinds of ways from climbing mountains and sky-diving to more zany methods like cold-water plunges.

Among dedicated fundraisers were staff and volunteers from Barnsley Hospital, local businesses and community organisations - all of whom have been lavished with praise for turning the project into reality.

Barnsley Hospital Charity’s development manager, Jane Mills, said the charity was now starting to plan a new fundraising appeal.

She said: “We are privileged to call our fundraisers our friends and we’re honoured that we can support the hospital in providing equipment and services over and above that which NHS funding alone can provide.

“The charity supports all patients of the hospital from maternity to end-of-life care and we are proud to work every day with our amazing supporters who wish to fundraise and donate to all areas of the hospital.

“We are working closely with our supporters and staff to develop a new impactive major capital appeal.”

Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis praised fundraisers for once again going above and beyond for the hospital.

“Barnsley Hospital do incredible work to support elderly residents during a very difficult time in their lives and, by smashing their fundraising target, can continue this work in a brand new specialist environment.

“The refurbished ward will have a particular focus on supporting those with dementia and will be better equipped to deliver care whilst making patients feel at home - something that is incredibly important for those living with dementia.

“Well done to all those who got involved.”