Shropshire Star

Ludlow Bed Push drag nurses row: Petition breaks 4,000 signatures

More than 4,000 people have signed a petition calling for health chiefs to reconsider turning down a donation because it was raised by men in drag.

Fundraisers on 2016's Ludlow Bed Push

The petition was started in response to a decision by an NHS trust to refuse £2,500 raised for the League of Friends of Ludlow Hospital in the town's annual bed push.

The reason given by Jan Ditheridge, chief executive of the NHS Trust responsible for Ludlow Hospital, was that the male fundraisers' female nurse-themed dress was ‘inappropriate’, ‘highly sexualised’ and ‘demeaning’, but the refusal of the money sparked public outrage.

Now a petition started by hospital supporter Kirk Lewis has broken the 4,000 signature mark and is on its way to 5,000.

League of friends chairman Peter Corfield said earlier this week that the money would stay put in the group's bank account until the matter was resolved, but Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust has reassured patients that it will still be able to afford the ECG machine, which the money was earmarked for, without the donation.

Mr Lewis said: "The Ludlow hospital fundraisers dressing up in drag, an event the town has supported for 20 years, have raised a fantastic £2500 – funds which were to pay for a new ECG machine.

"This story has gained national news coverage because of its absurdity and the over reactions of chief executive Jan Ditheridge.

"Having never received any complaints about this event, the only person who seems to have taken offence is the chief exec herself.

"To turn down such vital funds in this era of public sector cuts, is not only an incredible insult to those who volunteer their time to fundraise but also to the local community that continue to support this event year on year.

"We call upon Jan Ditheridge and the Shropshire Community NHS Trust to retract their highly personalised position, and accept with thanks, the donations raised by these volunteers and the good people of Ludlow who have generously given money in their support of this event."

But spokesman for Shropshire Community Health Trust said it had been asking the league of friends to put a stop to the method of fundraising, but that the "request has not been heeded".

"Our male and female nurses are highly skilled professionals, and this negative imagery reinforces old-fashioned stereotypes, demeaning the profession and inhibiting recruitment," he said.

The petition Support Ludlow Fundraisers can be found at