GENEROUS Journal readers have helped to raise £1.5million to fund a second MRI scanner at Salisbury District Hospital.

Since November 2017, the Stars Appeal has been campaigning to raise money for the life-saving equipment, which is expected to help 10,000 people every year at the hospital.

The charity’s president, the Earl of Pembroke, said the initial fundraising target was “intimidating” but “with the support that the community, the hospital, and the Journal have shown us [at the Stars Appeal] over the last 10 years we thought actually - let’s reach a little higher this time, and we’ve done it, we’ve hit this incredible target in a time faster than we ever could’ve dreamt of.”

“I think we are all over the moon about it,” he added.

The second scanner will allow hospital staff to diagnose conditions more quickly with faster, better and more accessible scans, to get patients home as soon as possible. It will use the very latest technology for cutting edge diagnostic techniques including cardiac and prostate MRI.

The hospital’s existing MRI scanner helps thousands of people every year but is running at full capacity.

Graham Branagan, a consultant colorectal surgeon and the campaign’s chairman said: “I think this is the first appeal that we’ve had with such a broad appeal to many people.

“Rather than being specific to patients with breast cancer or paediatrics, this is across the whole scope, all of our patients, pretty much everyone is going to either have a scan, or know someone who is going to need one, and I think that’s been very much reflected in how we’ve raised the money.”

The campaign was kicked off with a £500,000 boost made up of two £250,000 donations – one from the Salisbury Independent Hospital Trust and the other from an anonymous donor.

But Mr Branagan said the majority of the total had come from grassroots fundraising in the community.

“It hasn’t been in big donations coming in, its been through the mobilisation of people all across the community doing bits here and bits there,” he said.

“If I’d started again at the beginning knowing we wouldn’t have any big donations coming in, I’d have been pretty concerned about how we were going to do it [but] people have been absolute stars over the last 15 months.”

Consultant cardiologist Dr Tim Wells agreed, adding: “The community never ceases to amaze me, the generosity of various projects, they exceed the targets every time.

“The MRI scanner will support a lot of specialities, that’s the great thing about it, that’s why we have all these specialists here today.”

The Journal has previously helped the Stars Appeal raise money for a second CT scanner in 2013 and a specialist breast care unit in 2014.