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Cambridge woman leaves money for £400,000 ward refurbishment at Addenbrooke’s in her will

Patients using a renal ward at Addenbrooke’s are to benefit from a more colourful and relaxed approach to hospital life thanks to a legacy from a Cambridge woman.

Ward C5 has undergone a £400,000 nature-inspired transformation paid for using money gifted to the Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT) by Marcia Cunningham – whose best friend had worked on the ward.

Ann Cooper is a sister working in medical outpatients at Addenbrooke’s and was Marcia’s best friend.

She said: “I worked on the renal ward many years ago and she was always interested in what we did. I had no idea that she was leaving the money to the renal service! She lived a very simple quiet life and was the most kind, warm and thoughtful person who enjoyed people.”

Each of the ward’s 24 beds now has a decorative unit at the head, behind which essential services like medical gasses, nurse call, electrical sockets and lighting can be housed. Keeping them out of sight helps maintain a more relaxed atmosphere on the ward to help assist patients in their recovery.

Each unit also has the option of offering dialysis for the kidney patients – reducing the need to move them to another area for treatment.

Addenbrooke’s is believed to the first hospital in the UK to benefit from the head  units – which feature a range of floral and leaf-inspired designs. Each unit automatically illuminates if a patient leaves their bed during times of low light and will light up to guide staff to the appropriate bedside in the event of a patient call or cardiac alarm.

The bedheads have been provided as part of the £400,000 refurbishment project, which includes comfortable furniture, artwork, new nurses’ station and a waiting room.

Laura Wilton-Cox, senior sister on C5, said: “It looks amazing and will make a real difference to all the patients who will use the ward. We are very grateful to Marcia for the donation. I hope what we have done with her legacy to improve the wellbeing of patients on the ward would have made her proud and a nice touch is it also features her favourite flowers and trees.”

Shelly Thake, ACT’s CEO, said: “This is a wonderful example of how working in partnership with the hospital can make great things happen. We are hugely indebted to Marcia for her generosity, which has made such a difference for patients on ward C5, enabling them to be treated in altogether more inspiring and comfortable surroundings. Her kind legacy will be felt by many for years to come.”

Will YOU remember Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Your will?

Addenbrooke’s relies on the generosity of members of the public to help provide vital research, innovative equipment and specialist services. This generosity which transforms care for future generations, can come in the form of donations left in wills. However, many people don’t have a will because it is so easy to put off. This means loved ones may not know your wishes including your favourite charities. Thankfully, many grateful patients and their families do make a donation in their will to say thank you for care received

The kindest ‘thank you’
John Bigmore, 80, was diagnosed with prostate cancer six years ago. His illness spurred him into updating his will so that future patients can receive the same excellent level of care. He said: “I’m getting things ship-shape legally; sorting out my will. I’d already decided to leave a gift to the hospital, but I’m so grateful for how well the staff looked after me that I’ve decided to leave half of the amount specifically to clinic 4a.”

When Lucas Harvey-Bowman was six weeks old, he was diagnosed with a rare heart condition. “We were looked after extremely well. Lucas received outstanding care from the cardiology team, and here we are thriving today,” says his mum Jess. “To show our gratitude we are leaving a gift in our will to help support their valuable work. We cannot thank Addenbrooke’s enough.”

Kind-hearted family members like to show their gratitude for the care of their relatives by leaving donations in their wills as a tribute to their loved one. Dennis Wyatt did just this, helping to fund a new courtyard garden in the stroke unit to say thank you for the treatment his wife received. The garden gives patients and their families a much needed chance to spend time in a calm, relaxing place away from the busy ward environment. Dennis’ friend Pat said, “Dennis wanted to give something back. He would have been very impressed with what his gift helped to achieve.”

A donation in a will could even help unlock the secrets of many life-changing diseases. Frederick Pratt left a donation in his will, which funded research into Parkinson’s disease. Researcher Dr Caroline Williams-Gray said: ”This project investigates the role of the immune system in Parkinson’s disease. It is hoped this will help to guide development of new immune-based treatments to delay the onset of dementia, one of the most devastating aspects of this disease.”

Do something wonderful
There is no doubt that the impact of donations left in wills to Addenbrooke’s is huge, helping doctors, nurses and researchers realise ground-breaking achievements and transforming patients’ lives. Yet, while 35% of people say they would leave a gift to a charity in their will, only 7% actually do so.

Dennis’ gift provided an oasis of calm for future stroke patients while Frederick’s donation ensured the continuation of research into a terrible disease. What legacy would you want to leave?

Alice Macek, Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust’s Gifts in Wills Manager said: “We are so grateful to people who support us by leaving a donation in their will. These gifts will leave a long lasting legacy across the hospital for patients in the future, whether benefiting specialist services, state-of-the-art equipment or research breakthroughs. With this generosity we can achieve so much”

To ask a question, request information about inheritance tax, or tell us your thoughts about leaving a donation in your will please call 01223 217757 or email

Ashtons Legal in Cambridge are launching a Wills Year initiative where a donation for each will completed will be given to local charities. Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust is one of the chosen charities. For more information please contact the Lifetime Planning Team on 0330 4040773.