TV presenter John Craven joins volunteers to celebrate 60 years of Radio Horton in Banbury

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Former Newsround and current Countryfile presenter John Craven joined the team at Radio Horton yesterday (July 8) to celebrate the station’s 60th anniversary.

The veteran TV presenter joined members of the station’s team for a special cake-cutting event in the Horton Hospital’s restaurant.

Awards were presented to some of the long-standing members of the station before a performance by the NHS Power Choir rounded things off.

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The event was part of the station’s 60-hour anniversary broadcast, which features former presenters from the past six decades of Radio Horton.

John Craven alongside volunteers from Radio Horton at the 60th anniversary event.John Craven alongside volunteers from Radio Horton at the 60th anniversary event.
John Craven alongside volunteers from Radio Horton at the 60th anniversary event.

Radio Horton was founded on July 7, 1964, by local journalists Ted Hanson MBE and Graham Wilton and his wife Christine.

The station was originally started to provide patients with company and lift their moods with music and news, particularly on Thursday evenings when there was no visiting.

Radio Horton has come a long way since the early shows recorded at Graham’s using vinyl records and competing with barking dogs as background noise.

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Now digitalised, the station and its team of around 30 volunteers maintain the same level of commitment to the hospital’s patients from the purpose-built Hanson Studio constructed in 2016.

John Craven cuts Radio Horton's 60th birthday cake.John Craven cuts Radio Horton's 60th birthday cake.
John Craven cuts Radio Horton's 60th birthday cake.

Going online in 2009 meant that relatives of patients could now send in requests for them to hear, and it also meant that anyone could tune in.

At the anniversary celebration, John Craven said: “It’s a great privilege to be president of Radio Horton because of the wonderful work that everybody does.

"The station is the friend at the bedside. I have been in the Horton as a patient, listening to Radio Horton, so I have personal experience of the wonderful work the station does.

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"It's more than just a bedside friend now because of going digital, but basically it is still a hospital radio station here to serve the patients of this brilliant hospital, and long may it continue.”

The NHS Power Choir in action at the anniversary event.The NHS Power Choir in action at the anniversary event.
The NHS Power Choir in action at the anniversary event.

Several awards were presented by John to some of the volunteers, including Chris and Mel Kirkpatrick for five years of service, Anthony Brown for 15 years of service and Tom Wilson for 50 years of service.

The longest-running member of the team, Tom, is the backbone of the station, whose job it is to look after and repair the equipment needed to broadcast the shows.

Tom said: “I joined in the 1970s after Ted and Graham started the radio station because I was a big fan of the pirate radio stations and wanted to have a go myself.

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"It was my job to look after the equipment, which was old-fashioned in some ways, but we managed to keep it going and I have stuck with it since.

The early days of Radio Horton.The early days of Radio Horton.
The early days of Radio Horton.

"I’m now retired, and this occupies my time. I enjoy the stress and the sense of reward of getting things to work and learning how to use new equipment.”

Over the years, the station has raised thousands of pounds for the Horton; most recently, in April, Radio Horton donated £260 to be spent on new benches for the hospital’s outdoor gym area.

The Horton Hospital General Manager, Yolanda Jacob, said: “I want to say thank you because they do such an amazing job for patients and staff.

"They have been here such a long time; they are a part of the family at the Horton and are a super bunch of people.”