There have been many memorable dates in the 50 years existence of the Inverness Hospitals Broadcasting Service, but none so important as the 2nd November 1970, when Donnie Aird and the late Alistair Gardner first went on air to broadcast a pre-recorded show. The first show was broadcast to the patients in the Royal Northern Infirmary and Raigmore Hospital, both in Inverness.
Obviously the two new broadcasters were highly pleased with the first show as Alistair was quoted as saying “Today's start was very encouraging, and now the programme has gone out, we expect to be deluged with requests every week.” Requests had to be submitted to Hospital requests, PO Box 2, Inverness, by the Friday prior to the programme, recorded at the weekend, to be broadcast on the following Monday!
Five years later in 1975, a small room in the RNI became the first studio of Radio Inverness, the name at that time, As the years went by, the status of the hospitals began to change and the main hospital for patients in the area became Raigmore Hospital. After years of fundraising and helped by many donations from local businesses, in particular Highland Cross 1997 and the North British Hotels Trust along with a lot of hard work by the members, the new studios at Raigmore Hospital were opened in 1998.
Lorraine Kelly of GMTV helped the organisation by opening the studios in the company of the members and many invited guests. Lorraine again attended a memorable 30th anniversary of Hospital Radio in November 2000 by joining in the celebrations at a dinner in the Town House, Inverness and handing out Long Service Awards to members. Shortly after this, she accepted an invitation to become the Patron of Inverness Hospital Radio and has been closely associated with the organisation since. Lorraine participates in a telephone recorded interview to her home on a regular basis.
From the humble beginnings of one broadcast per week, the organisation has now progressed to a 24 hour service with new equipment, dedicated schedules, the formation of a website, and improved communcations. In 2011 IHR purchased and installed the Myriad playout system, from PSquared, to bring the studios kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.
On 2nd June 2012, Inverness Hospital Radio was recognised by being awarded The Queens Award for Voluntary Service. The whole membership were thoughly overawed by this award, but none more than Donnie Aird, co-founder:
“I am as overawed by receiving this as any of you! I know Alistair & I set this up 40 plus years ago, but without the continuing support and enthusiasm of original, past, on-coming and present members the organisation would not be where it is to-day.
I can only express my thanks to all concerned over the years and hope to meet with you all at a meeting to celebrate the receipt of this prestigious award in the near future.
It is comforting to know that Sheila Gardner was informed of the award prior to her death a few days ago and that she was brought to tears on receiving the news.
Thank's again and well done to everyone concerned!
(Founder member Inverness Hospital Radio)”