Radio stalwarts have been in hospital for 70 years!

Long time volunteers at Radio Sunderland for Hospitals have . Bill Bowes has volunteered for 40 years, Michael Speight (back right) has 30 years, Marilyn Walker has 12 years and Julia Hepple and David Johnson have 5 years.

Long time volunteers at Radio Sunderland for Hospitals have . Bill Bowes has volunteered for 40 years, Michael Speight (back right) has 30 years, Marilyn Walker has 12 years and Julia Hepple and David Johnson have 5 years.

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AFTER 70 years of collective service, two radio DJs are being handed awards for their dedication.

Bill Bowes and Michael Speight, who volunteer for Radio Sunderland for Hospitals, are to be honoured with Long Service Awards by the station.

The pair have selflessly given their time over the decades to play music and help entertain patients.

Bill, from Seaburn, has clocked up 40 years at the station, which is based at Monkwearmouth Hospital.

Thinking back to when he joined, he said: “Back in those days I was running a mobile disco and I had been spending some time at a local ballroom.

“One of the other DJs told me about the hospital radio and invited me along and that was how it started.

“I have really enjoyed doing it as even though you put a lot in you get a lot out of it as well. I have also been chairman since 1982 and that can take up quite a bit of my time.”

The retired 63-year-old added: “The patients definitely appreciate the station and as part of our role we actually visit the patients on their wards.

“We take requests from the patients to play on the station and we also take the time to explain that the radio is free to listen to.”

Michael, who has been at the station for 30 years, said: “I first got involved because while I was living with my mum and dad I heard an advert on the radio.

“A lot of things have changed as back then we had cassette players and real tapes. The technology has definitely changed a lot.

“I have always really enjoyed putting the programme together and maybe a bit more than actually presenting it.

“Visiting the patients in hospital is also a big part of it and a lot of them are really happy to see us as they may not have any other visitors.

“We are also looking for more people to help out – when I started we must have had about 70 to 80 volunteers but now we have about 25 at the most.”

The station was first formed in 1953 with the aim of relaying live commentary from Sunderland games at Roker Park to patients in hospital.

Music was first broadcast in 1956 and now it can be listened to digitally and online.

In 2010, a £10,000 lottery grant helped refurbish the studios and next year the station will celebrate its diamond jubilee.

Twitter: @tomwhite7