Shropshire Star

Ludlow nurse drag bed push money will stay put

About £2,500 raised by men dressed as "sexy nurses" will stay in a bank account until a wrangle over its fate is decided, a hospital friends chairman has said.


Peter Corfield, chairman of the League of Friends of Ludlow Hospital, said the furore caused by Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust's the refusal of the money, raised by the annual Ludlow Bed Push, had been overwhelming.

The decades-old event involves a team of men in nurse-themed drag who run around the town collecting money, but this year Jan Ditheridge, chief executive of the NHS trust which responsible for the management of Ludlow Hospital, said the fundraiser's dress was "inappropriate", "highly sexualised" and "demeaning".

But her refusal of the money has caused an outcry from supporters, made national headlines and sparked a slew of calls from other good causes – even hospitals – for the money to be made use of.

Mr Corfield said the attention the issue had attracted after the Shropshire Star broke the story on Tuesday was shocking.

He said: "On Tuesday I was just shell shocked. People were even ringing me at 11am asking if I could be in Birmingham first thing in the morning to appear on television, which I declined."

He said four other hospitals – though none in Shropshire – had contacted him and offered to take the money.

"They all said if we've got a problem putting the money to good use they would have no problem taking it – even if the people raising it had been naked.

"But the money is now in an account and it will remain there until we have an appropriate solution to this problem.

"It will be used for the benefit of local people, certainly in a rural health care setting," he said.

But while there has been much outrage over the turning down of the money, some have shown support for Ms Ditheridge's position.

Dr Simon Freeman, accountable officer at the Shropshire clinical commissioning group, said the trust was correct. “The objectification of women is not acceptable,” he said.

Ludlow's deputy mayor Colin Sheward, who stressed he was speaking personally and not on behalf of the town council, said: "When it started 20-odd years ago it was a bit of fun. But this thing's gone beyond the point I think it's really funny now.

"It's a very masculine idea about what's funny about being a nurse. I was a mental health nurse for many years and I do feel there is something almost aggressively naff about it.

"I've nothing against men running around dressed as women but it's just this idea that that's what nurses are – is that the way they look at nurses?" he said.

However, Glyn Davie, MP for neighbouring Montgomeryshire, said dressing up in drag had a long history in community charity fundraising. "Is this the end of the traditional carnival?" he asked.