Radio Nene Valley: Northampton General Hospital station celebrates 50th anniversary with special day of broadcasting

'We work hard to broadcast a variety of programmes to the patients, their relatives and colleagues and plan to keep doing so for many years to come'

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 10:48 am

The radio station based at Northampton General Hospital celebrated its 50th anniversary with a special day of broadcasting to patients on Sunday (November 7).

Radio Nene Valley was the town's first radio station when it was launched by a team of volunteers on November 7, 1971, to broadcast to hospitals across the town relying solely on donations and fundraising.

Half a century later and the station has played thousands of songs, launched numerous broadcasting careers and provided comfort to countless patients.

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Northampton mayor Rufia Ashraf was welcomed to Radio Nene Valley on its 50th anniversary on Sunday, November 7, by chairman Kevin Askew (centre) and co-founder Steve Riches. Photo: Bryan Morris.

Chairman Kevin Askew said: “We’re extremely proud to be celebrating 50 years of broadcasting to Northampton’s hospitals.

"We work hard to broadcast a variety of programmes to the patients, their relatives and colleagues in Northampton General Hospital and plan to keep doing so for many years to come.

"I’d like to thank all of our volunteers over the past 50 years and the management and teams across Northampton General Hospital who continue to support what we do.”

At 12.30pm on Sunday, Northampton mayor Rufia Ashraf joined original presenter Steve Riches for a show exactly 50 years on from his original launch programme in 1971.

The original Radio Nene Valley team in 1971

The day also included a mixture of archive broadcasts and programmes from former presenters John Griff, now of BBC Radio Northampton, and Smooth Radio's Simon Clarke.

The anniversary also sees the culmination of two years of upgrading the radio station with two new studios and a digital play-out system broadcasting 24 hours a day in the hospital and online.

A special 50th anniversary edition of Radio Nene Valley's Smile Patients magazine was also published for the occasion, filled with nostalgia and information about the station.

Hospital trust chief executive Eileen Doyle wrote in the magazine: "Radio Nene Valley is an integral part of the hospital, providing much needed entertainment for patients for 50 years.

Radio Nene Valley's new studio

"Broadcasting in Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust began in the early 1950s when hospital administrator Stanley Hill broadcasted live commentary of Cobblers home matches over the internal radio system and in November 1971, a full radio service began broadcasting.

"Hospital radio remains an important outlet for patients and the wide variety of programmes offered by Radio Nene Valley appeals to a broad range.

"I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Radio Nene Valley and all of its volunteers on 50 years and wish the very best for the future."

For more information about Radio Nene Valley, its history and how to join the team, visit Read the magazine online at