Shropshire Star

Telford hospital fundraising champion who helped buy equipment to help patients dies at 79

Alan Millward, who was former chairman of the League of Friends at Telford's Princess Royal Hospital, has died at the age of 79.

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Alan Millward.

Over the years the volunteer-led charity, which is now defunct, raised millions of pounds to buy equipment for the benefit of patients at the hospital.

"After he retired he was down there three or four times a week. He used to go around the wards talking to people," said Ann, his wife of 55 years.

She said that once he came across a young man who had fallen foul of the law who was chained to the bed, and asked if he wanted anything. He replied that the batteries had gone in his small radio.

"Alan went and bought some batteries and took them back to him. He did not ask that young lad what he had done. That was Alan. He did not question people – he just gave of himself."

Alan, who lived in Oakengates, was a former president of the Wellington Probus Club, former chairman of the Shropshire Star sports and social club and, with Ann, a member of Holy Trinity Church, Oakengates, for over 40 years, serving as a past churchwarden.

He had done voluntary work at the hospital with the Friends for 16 years, and was chairman for 11 years until stepping down for health reasons in 2016.

He is survived by Ann, daughter Carolyn, and granddaughter Grace.

The funeral is at Telford crematorium at 2.30pm on September 6, and there will be a memorial service at the church at a later date.

Sadly the Friends' fundraising cafe and shop at the Princess Royal Hospital closed on May 27 last year as a result of the impact of the Covid pandemic, and the voluntary group there is no longer going.

"He was very sad at the situation," said Ann.

At the time of his stepping down he said: “Initially when we started all we had was a serving hatch and it got bigger and bigger, then we built the conservatory.

“We serve everything now, it’s changing terrifically. There are 140 volunteers as we are open seven days a week, four or five volunteers on at all times. We couldn’t make the money we make without the volunteers.”

Alan serving coffee at the Princess Royal Hospital in 2010.

He reckoned the Friends had raised £3 million over 25 to 30 years.

Alan was born and brought up at Carpenters Row in Coalbrookdale, which was condemned when he was a teenager and his family had to move out. Ironically the row of workers' cottages was preserved and is now held up as a precious heritage asset for the Ironbridge Gorge.

Young Alan, front, with his brothers Arthur and Ted outside their home in Carpenters Row, Coalbrookdale – a row which was condemned, but ironically is now a cherished heritage asset for the Ironbridge Gorge.

His first job, at the age of 15, was at the engine shop with the Coalbrookdale Company, in what is now Enginuity. Later he worked for Sankey's and then drove for Torton Bodies in Oakengates before joining the maintenance team at the Shropshire Star.

He met the then Ann Morris of Dawley at the Majestic dance hall in Wellington and they married on March 9, 1968.

It was while Ann was having physiotherapy following an accident that they saw a notice appealing for hospital volunteers, and they offered their services. Soon he was taking a trolley around the wards.

"They asked him to come on the committee, and before he knew it, he was chairman."

Alan collapsed on the bowling green after finishing a game at the Maddocks club in Oakengates and was taken to New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton.

"I got somebody from the chaplaincy to come and say some prayers over him. He anointed him with holy oil, which Alan would have appreciated, as his religion was very important to him."

Tributes have poured in online from friends and former colleagues, with typical comments being "one of life's true gentlemen" and "a force for good so often."