ORGANISATIONS in Dorchester are working together to mark the 175th anniversary of Dorset County Hospital this year.

A series of projects are being planned to mark the occasion, with the hospital, the Dorset History Centre and Dorset County Museum coming together to stage an exhibition, publish a commemorative booklet and co-ordinate music and oral history projects.

The oral history project aims to capture the memories of patients and staff, past and present, and volunteers are being sought to help.

Maria Gayton, community eng-agement officer at the Dorset History Centre, said: “Recorded memories from individuals can add greatly to our understanding of an institution.

“It is hoped that both patients and staff will choose to share their stories, or to train in the collection of recordings.

“So, if you were one of the first babies born at the new site, had riotous times in the nurses’ home, developed a new medical technique or perhaps had your life saved by emergency treatment, please get in touch.

“If you would prefer to be on the other side of the microphone, training will be provided in how to collect archive quality recordings.”

The first Dorset County Hospital was opened in Dorch-ester in 1840.

Maria said: “A group of wealthy philanthropists established a hospital of 20 beds, with the aim of inspiring gratitude amongst the ‘labouring community’.

“Today the hospital, at the more recent site in West Dorchester, has around 400 beds, and serves the entire community as a public service.

“Medicine has seen advances in anaesthesia, cancer treatment, the care of premature babies, and many other areas.

“Society has seen two World Wars and the founding of the National Health Service.

“All these stories and more are contained within the microcosm of the hospital’s history.

“A local partnership of Dorset County Hospital, Dorset History Centre and Dorchester Museum is determined to highlight this history, and celebrate both the technology and the humanity which has contributed to our longer, healthier lives.

“To this end, a grant is being sought from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help with an exhibition at the hospital from May to August 2015, plus a small publication, a music project and a new collection of oral histories.”

To volunteer for the oral history project contact Maria Gayton at the history centre on or 01305 228947.