VOLUNTEERS have marked half a century of raising cash to support Oxford’s Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre.

The League of Friends of the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre (NOC) celebrated the milestone at the Windmill Road hospital on Monday.

They have raised £1.1m over the past 50 years with the league’s shop and daily visits to wards to sell food, toiletries and newspapers.

It formed on March 24, 1964, with the aim to ‘bring in happiness to the hospital’.

The 70 volunteers at the hospital – for people with bone and joint problems – serve about 2,500 cups of tea and coffee each week.

Items bought for the hospital include an ultrasound scanner for prosthetic limbs, adjustable physiotherapy tables and wheelchair weighing scales.

Sir Jonathan Michael, chief executive of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, paid tribute to the league.

He joined volunteers for tea and a birthday cake and also unveiled a plaque to mark their achievements in the hall of the hospital, next to the League of Friends shop.

Joining celebrations was the league’s longest-serving volunteering, Jean Burley, who has been helping out for 38 years.

The 79-year-old, from Frilford Heath, near Abingdon, said: “Some patients do not have visitors and can’t buy anything.

“If you are in bed and can’t get out it is very hard, so it is nice to feel useful. People come in to the hospital in terrible pain and go home without it. I’ve seen an incredible change since I started in 1976 – the standards have gone way up.

“It was good before but it was nothing like the fantastic hospital it is now.”

Photos of the volunteers from the past 50 years and equipment bought by them are on show in the NOC entrance hall this week.

Sir Jonathan said: “We would like to thank the League of Friends for all of their support over the last 50 years and what they continue to give on a daily basis to patients, visitors and staff.

“It really is very much appreciated and we hope that it continues for many years to come.”

Chairwoman of the league, Maureen Pope, said: “It was a great success. The day was really about being very proud of the fact we have gifted to the hospital to the value of £1,126,284.”