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24/10/16: London's newest museum is set across our Trust

Cambridge Wing Gallery - St Marys HospitalWe’re proud to announce that after a process of five years, Imperial College Healthcare Charity Art Collection has just been granted museum status following accreditation from Arts Council England (ACE).

It means the collection of more than 2000 artworks meets the stringent national standards and benchmarks set by ACE and is an assurance of quality in terms of the collection’s management and the way it is developed for the benefit of staff, patients and visitors to the hospitals.

We’re special because our collection is set among the five hospitals in West and North West London, with accreditation placing us alongside well-known museums and galleries such as the British Museum and the National Gallery. We are currently the only working hospital art collection to be accredited by ACE.

Among the broad spectrum of works across St Mary’s, Hammersmith, Charing Cross, Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea  and Western Eye hospitals, are rare and striking pieces by up and coming artists and established names such as David Mach RA, Tracey Emin RA, Bridget Riley and Julian Opie. 

Lucy Zacaria, Head of Arts at Imperial College Healthcare Charity, says: “We’re extremely proud that the collection has been granted museum status. Getting to this point has been a long process and involved a large number of staff and volunteers over that period of time. Although you may not naturally associate art with hospitals, we know the collection makes a huge difference to the wellbeing of patients, staff and visitors.

“Having the right piece of art can completely transform the hospital environment. We always listen and work closely with staff to make sure any installation of artwork is appropriate and respectful to its surroundings and patients, helping to make an often daunting experience more bearable. It helps to shift perceptions of what a hospital environment can feel like for patients into something that is a warmer, more welcoming place to be.”

Although the majority of works are installed in public spaces such as corridors and waiting areas, St Mary’s, Hammersmith and Charing Cross hospitals also feature a number of dedicated gallery spaces. The charity’s temporary Art in Focus exhibitions highlight art created by a specific artist or follow a central theme. Currently, the Cambridge Wing Gallery at St Mary’s Hospital features a series of arresting works by artist Tim Head. The next major exhibition at Charing Cross Hospital is being installed in early November and will feature 22 etchings by Norman Ackroyd RA.

The arts team also run an active programme of arts events for the benefit of patients and staff, including regular creative workshops for patients with dementia, music sessions for young patients and a hugely popular creative workshop series that is open to the wider hospital community.  

To find out more about Imperial College Healthcare Charity Art Collection, the ways you can get involved and where to visit some of the collection, click here.  


07/10/16: Cancer patient to take on four day mountain climb to thank hospital for treatment

20160805 173552A leukaemia patient is set to take on the biggest challenge of his life by tackling a gruelling four day climb up a 1km sheer cliff face in California.

Scott Soithongsuk, who has chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML), and his girlfriend Jo Robbings, will attempt to climb the infamous route known as The Nose on the mountain El Capitan Yosemite National Park.

The couple will be raising money for Imperial College Healthcare Charity, which fundraises for Hammersmith Hospital in West London where Scott receives treatment. They are due to leave the UK on 8 October and aim to complete the climb within their three week trip.

Scott, 29, said: “I’m hoping to inspire others who are living with cancer to encourage them to dream big. Completing the climb will feel like such a massive achievement. I know climbing the Nose is going to be harder than anything I’ve done before, but I’m willing to give it my all. I believe that if you’re truly passionate about what you do, you’ll simply pick yourself up again if you get knocked down. I wouldn’t risk my life for something that that wasn't so deeply rooted in me.”

Chronic myeloid leukaemia is a blood cancer that affects the myeloid cells, when the body creates too many mature white blood cells. It usually develops very slowly, and for the majority of people with the cancer, can be managed through daily medication.

“When I was first diagnosed in 2007, my doctor told me to take it easy and opt for a simple, peaceful life, which really frustrated me because I had so many things I wanted to do,” said Scott, who is now based in Luton.

“The previous medication I was on meant permanent tiredness, muscle fatigue and a lot of sickness, including anaemia. It was something you just had to grin and bear.  I’ve managed to adapt to my new medication, but it still means being more tired than normal, so I can only climb at weekends. I wake up, go to work, come home to nap, wake up, eat then go back to sleep. There’s been so many times when I was just tired of being tired.

“It was down to my brother and sister literally dragging me out of bed that I rediscovered my love for climbing. My mum worries about my health, but she can see how much this climb means to me.”

The infamous Nose is a highly demanding climb comprising 31 pitches up the sheer face. Few people who attempt the climb actually reach the top, but Scott, who started climbing at university, is relishing the opportunity.

“I get butterflies in my stomach every time I think about it. I’ve never climbed back to back for four days before. We’re aiming to climb about 300m a day and we’ll be sleeping each night in the open air on a rock ledge, something we only tried for the first time a few weeks. When it comes to the real thing, we’ll hopefully get some good weather," he said.

"The thought of getting to the top puts a huge smile on my face. I’ve had to learn a lot of new skills as part of my preparation and will be finally realising something I’ve dreamt about but never thought was possible. We have to factor in things like jet lag, bad weather plus the fact we’ll both be getting increasingly tired with each day as we’ll be carrying all of our food and equipment as well as sleeping rough. We’ll need more and more rest the further up we go.

“We decided to do it back in January when we heard some friends were heading to Yosemite. It’s not something you would describe as a walk in the park, especially when any activity at the moment is a challenge.”

The couple have raised £260 so far for Imperial College Healthcare Charity’s Blood Fund, which supports the department of haematology at Hammersmith Hospital. Scott’s partner Jo, came up with the idea of making a video in support of their challenge. 

To sponsor Scott and Jo and to watch their video, visit 

05/10/16: Patients with breathing difficulties benefit from charity singing sessions

IMG 6679Singing classes funded by the charity have been helping to breathe new life into patients with respiratory conditions.

Singing for Breathing classes, funded by Imperial College Healthcare Charity, see Charing Cross Hospital patients learning to control their breath through singing techniques.

The sessions are helping patients with a variety of chronic lung conditions, including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (C.O.P.D), Asthma, Bronchiectasis and Interstitial Lung Disease.

Respiratory physiotherapist, Adam Lound, who organises the classes at Charing Cross Hospital, said: “Singing for Breathing is all about doing something fun that controls your breath.

“It’s so rare to see patients as happy and positive and having as much fun as they are in these classes. The majority of things we do as clinicians involve giving them medication or exercises but the numbers we have seen coming back here shows how much they are enjoying it.”

Singing for Breathing originated with pilot projects funded by the British Lung Foundation. A pilot was held at Charing Cross Hospital, which was so successful that Imperial College Healthcare Charity has awarded £4,620 to fund three 14-week sessions over the next year.

Among the patients taking part in the classes is asthmatic Cynthia who hasn’t had an asthma attack since she got involved in Singing for Breathing three months ago.

“I haven’t had an asthma attack in three months, which is largely down to these classes,” she said.

“I’m much more conscious of my breathing and I try to remember what I learn in these classes such as taking deep breaths through your tummy.

Fellow patient Sonia, who has pulmonary hypertension, said: “It's helped me not to panic about my breathing. There is a real feel good thing about these classes."

Bronchiectasis patient Anthea, who previously trained as a singer, said the classes are helping her rediscover her voice.

“I love it here. Coming here is really helping me get my singing voice back and I have been asked to sing at a party in June," she said.

“The singing is making me concentrate on breathing properly. I’m getting better and that’s partly down to Singing for Breathing. When Adam suggested these classes I thought ‘you must be joking, can I really?’ They’re absolutely fabulous.”

The classes at Charing Cross Hospital are led by freelance choir director Mary Bourne.

“So many patients say they are now breathing differently. For them it’s all about how they use their breath. I give advice from a singing point of view, just reminding them to sing from their bellies,” she said.

“I have seen a real change in the patients. When we started their voices were low and I have encouraged them to sing higher, which is much more difficult. I try to encourage songs that have long phrases so they concentrate on the exhale more than the inhale.”

The group will perform a carol concert at Charing Cross Hospital on 13 December.

30/09/16: Grandmother inspires teacher to run half marathon for charity

Sophie with her sister AbigailA teacher put her best foot forward at the Ealing Half Marathon in honour of her grandmother.

Sophie Hannon, of Brentford, took part in the 13.1 mile event on 25 September to raise more than £400 for Charing Cross and Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea hospitals in west London where her 86-year-old grandmother is receiving treatment for womb cancer.

Money raised will go to Imperial College Healthcare Charity, which fundraises for research, projects and equipment at the five hospitals of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

The English teacher said: “The staff at Queen Charlotte's and Charing Cross hospitals have been doing an excellent job of looking after my wonderful Grannie Lily during her cancer treatment.

“She cannot speak highly enough of their skill, compassion and relentless hard work, all of which has made this difficult experience that little bit brighter.”

Sophie, who was born at Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea Hospital, is also raising money for Hammersmith Hospital after being treated there as a child for an underactive thyroid.

“From the special care maternity unit at Queen Charlotte's, to the treatment I received throughout my childhood at Hammersmith Hospital for Hypothyroidism, the hospitals in this Trust have been hugely important in my own life,” she said.

“I had to have a lot of blood tests due to my Hypothyroidism, which is quite scary when you’re little but I always felt very relaxed and calm thanks to the team there.”

It was the first time Sophie had taken part in a running event and she completed it in two hours and 28 minutes. The race saw her travel through Central Ealing, Montpelier, Pitshanger, West Ealing, Hanwell and St Stephen’s before returning to Lammas Park.

“I was determined to do this in recognition of the outstanding work of so many thousands of people in our NHS,” said Sophie.

“Thinking about my Grannie and the money I was raising for the charity helped to keep me going. I told my Grannie I did it and she said it’s lovely.

“I walked the final mile with my best friend whose knee went at mile 10. I was on track to finish in about two hours and 17 minutes, which is not a bad effort for my first proper run. I definitely want to do another one next year and improve on my time.”

Imperial College Healthcare Charity raises funds for five London hospitals within Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust: Charing Cross, Hammersmith, Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea, St Mary’s and Western Eye hospitals.

Since 2009, the charity has awarded more than £34 million in grants to over 470 pieces of clinical research and healthcare projects across the hospitals, all of which aim to improve patient healthcare.

To sponsor Sophie, go to


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