Surprise legacy from tragic mother pays for new unit

A MATERNITY unit at a North Yorkshire hospital has undergone a £110,000 refurbishment funded by a legacy left by a mother who lost two children at birth.

Ruth Oakley decided to leave the cash to the unit at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton as a lasting tribute to the work of the staff who helped care for her during the two tragedies.

Ms Oakley, who lived in Northallerton, was the matron of Mount Pleasant at Marske in Redcar up until her retirement and dedicated her life to the elderly people who were under her care.

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She died in October last year and left the 110,000 to the Friends of the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.

The money has been spent on a major upgrade of the maternity unit.

Spokeswoman Anne Wall said: "We are delighted with the improved facilities and grateful for this legacy which has made it possible for us to update the labour ward and enable us to give the quality of care that our mums, dads and babies deserve.

"It's not just about the equipment, we wanted to create an environment where women feel calm and confident and where privacy and dignity is assured."

A memorial plaque has been erected outside a new larger labour ward room at the hospital in memory of Ms Oakley.

The room can be used by bereaved families who need more privacy while also doubling up as accommodation for fathers and other relatives who need to stay over.

Another room has also been adapted to improve disabled access.

The Friends of the Friarage Hospital's chairman, Steve Lamb, said: "We know the Friarage is highly regarded by local people, through the support we receive in fundraising events, in our shop and from legacies.

"We are glad to support such a vital service which benefits local women and really makes a difference."