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Volunteer Hospital Kieran McCormick

Helping Hand


Hospital Radio is a great way to get invovled in volunteering in your community. Francis Klonowski from Radio Allerton’s tells tales of the station’s 30 years of entertaining patients.


hen people think of volunteering, working at a radio station isn’t their usual choice. Hospital radio is one of the most popular ways of people giving up their free time and helping their local community. The stations are run entirely by volunteers and as of today, they are over 200 hospital radio station across Britain. There are also plenty in the Leeds area. One of these is Radio Allteron, which is based in the city’s Chapel Allerton Hospital. The station broadcast 24 hours a day and is run completely by the station’s 14 volunteers. Radio Allerton has entertianed paitents in Chapel Allerton since 1978 and station chairman Francis Klonowski has been there for most of them. While he may not know why he got into hospital radio, the chance to work for a radio station was one that was too good to turn down. “I was brought up with the pirate radio station and I suppose before that Radio Luxembourg gave me a fascination for radio. In fact it was my burning ambition when I graduated from University to go into radio or written journalism. Neither of which proved to be very accessible at the time and I probably gave up a little too easily” stated


Klonowski in the station’s small and understated studio. “The opportunity arose when I saw a tiny little snippet in the local paper saying that they needed volunteers for Radio Allerton.”

Radio Allerton has been quite lucky when it comes to money, having been on the receiving end of several grants across the years. Although Francis himself admitted that these were “stumbled across rather than reached Although the station celebrated out for.” However, there have its 30th anniversary back in been other ways in which the 2008, it hasn’t always been funds have been raised to keep plain sailing for Radio Allerton. the station going “We have just There were times when this done something this year that celebration looked like it may was very good; or rather somenever happen. Chapel Allerton one did it on our behalf, which hospital switched was an organ sites during the recital in a chapel “I was brought 80’s.When the in the middle of up with the pirate Leeds. And that transfer was radio station and worked very well. complete, Radio I suppose before Allerton had no So that gave us room to broadcast that Radio Luxthe impetus to do embourg gave me more” Klonowski from. Francis himself had fallen a fascination for explains. The staradio.’ out of the loop tion also benefited with the station; greatly from a but once space for legacy fund left the studio had been found he by Friends of Chapel Allerton, was roped back in. “I remember a charity that works within we said we would broadcast for Chapel Allerton Hospital. six months to a year, see how it went and re-launch officially. 8 However, not all hospitals run years later we were still waiting a hospital radio service. 217 for that re-launch and we were hospitals in the UK have their still broadcasting so we just own radio station or some form carried on.” of radio service. Klonowski says it’s not down to the hospitals to Like all hospital radio staset one up. It is down voluntions, Radio Allerton is an teers like himself to get a radio officially licensed charity. This station going. He states that means that the volunteers at “Usually they would find that the station have to raise funds the hospital services are usuin order to keep it running. ally open to it, although not as

Radio Allerton Chairman Francis Klonowski on his regular Friday night show supportive as they would have been several years ago…. But it is still down to volunteers to set the thing up, rather than the trust itself or the hospital authorities.” As well providing an entertainment service for hospital patients across the country, hospital radio has helped launched the careers of some of Britain’s top media personalities. Radio Allerton has its fair share of famous alumni, with CNN’s Richard Quest and ITN’s Chris Choi having once worked on the station. While Klonowski admits that experience helps in the media profession, people shouldn’t see hospital radio as a stepping stone to success. “One of the things I am keen to emphasise to people who join us as volunteers is that we are not a training ground for radio” Klonowski declares. “Although it is a place where people can gain experience. We are a charity that happens to provide a radio station to patients.”

Like everyone on a hospital inviting him to the station.” radio station, Francis works as a volunteer. However, that doesn’t As with any voluntary service, mean that it doesn’t come with Radio Allerton and all hospital some perks. Though his work radio stations are always lookat Radio Allerton, ing for volunteers. Francis has been “We interview “Although it is able to meet some a place where them to see if they big names and are suitable. To people can gain important people see if they have experience, we are during his time at a charity that hap- the right apthe station. The proach”, Klonowpens to provide station chairman ski explainsThese a radio station to has various people patients.” also include the during his time at usual background the station; from checks to check. the Lord Mayor “We decide if they of Leeds to Terry Wogan. But are suitable from a radio point Francis lists one particular of view.” States Klonowski. encounter as his personal “From a volunteer point of highlight. “Getting to know view, the trust decides whether one of my favourite singer/ they are suitable as a volunteer songwriters from the 70’s who full stop.” sadly died around 11 years ago. Clifford T Ward”, Klonowski It may not be the most explains. “He wrote some great convential form of volunteermusic and I had the pleasure of ing, but working at a hospital meeting him. Sadly he suffered radio station is one of the more from Multiple Sclerosis for a rewarding. These services don’t number of years. So that put an make patients better, but it early end to his ability to write makes hospital life a less painsongs. But I had the privilege of ful experience.


Hospital Radio magazine article  
Hospital Radio magazine article  

An 1000 word article that I wrote for the "Helping Hand", a volunteering magazine created for the magazine project module of my Journalism d...