15th July 1999. The worst day in HRB's history as fire ripped through the station's HQ late that evening taking the station off the air for the following 18 months.
On the night itself, then Chairman Melanie Neale was called out to deal with the disaster along with then Station Manager Craig Stafford. In the aftermath, it was found that much of the station's record and CD collections had melted along with some equipment that had been in the office, and the computer. The good news was that the studio remained largely untouched. It was also much later discovered that a large amount of the CDs had actually survived although the cases had melted.
Over the coming months, the committee of the time worked with the hospital to get the station back on air. Throughout the summer of 2000, the team painted and decorated the new HQ and the station engineer of the time Dave Smith possibly worked the hardest of all installing the interior walling, electrics and, later on, the studios themselves.
During the time off, it was inevitable that some members would drift away. In the end, that included Melanie Neale and most of the rest of the committee who seemed to lose interest in the station and getting back on air.
By the time September 2000 came, the station had about 7 members left, and the time had come for a new committee to take over and lead the station back on air. Dave Leonard was elected Chairman and accompanied by Dave Smith as engineer and later Neil Ogden as Programme Controller, and Phil Spray as PRO, the new team pushed ahead with preparations to get back on air.
There were many problems along the way, from equipment not working to a leaking roof. It had hoped that a pre-Christmas launch could happen, but this was just not practical in the end. It was January 28th 2001 when HRB was heard live again for the first time since that fateful night back in July 1999.
We received lots of good luck messages –
All the best from Hospital Radio BGM at Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli,
Best of Luck with Sunday
Peter Gagiano at Addington Hospital Radio in Durban, South Africa
Good Luck and best wishes to everyone at Hospital Radio Basingstoke, from all at Northern Air Radio, broadcasting from our studios at the North Manchester General Hospital.- We hope to launch our own 24 hour service from the end of January – Have you sent us one or two of your gremlins?;-)
Northern Air Radio
Good Luck with the relaunch from all at Hospital Radio Chelmsford.
PR Officer, HRC.
From one HRB to another …. good luck on your re-launch and hope
everything goes well!
Spread the word!
Hospital Radio Barnet
Good luck with your re-launch.
cheers Chris Spring Epsom HR
Well done to everyone who has worked hard to get the station back on air over the last eighteen months.
Head of Programme Resources
Radio Redhill – 1287AM
Best of luck, from all at Torbay HR.
Programme Controller & Studio Engineer
Radio Active, Torbay Hospital Radio
There were many people and organisations who helped the station get back on air in one way or another. The following are the main ones, but thanks go to each and every person who wished the station well. It was great to be back!
Sunlife Financial of Canada
K Chatten Computer Services
Coventry Hospital Radio
Coventry Hospital Social Club
107.6 Kestrel FM
96.4 The Eagle
Arco Crane Hire
City Electrical Factors
The many kind people who donated their CDs and records to the station
and last but not least, Dave Smith/Pro-Events without whom the road back to air would have been a lot longer.