WESSEX Group has thrown its fundraising efforts this year behind the Stars Appeal.

Last year the group, based in Shaftesbury, raised around £6,000 for the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance.

Now it is lining up a variety of fundraising events to get behind the Stars Appeal for 2019.

Each year, projects funded by the charity help thousands of local people get better faster, return home sooner and have a more positive hospital experience.

The Stars Appeal is aiming to raise £1million this year to fund projects which offer direct, practical support to patients and their families, over and above what the NHS provides.

These include cancer support, help for older and dementia patients, a child friendly children’s ward and parents’ accommodation, hospital chaplains, free wi-fi and advanced equipment in key areas such as cancer surgery, cardiac care and the Neonatal Unit as well as enhancing the patient environment across the hospital.

Director Simon Morgan said: “We wanted to choose a charity this year that helps as many people as possible.

“Backing the Stars Appeal follows on nicely from our support for the air ambulance last year.

“The money raised for the hospital makes a huge difference to everyone who uses the services and we are keen to do our bit to help."

The family-owned Wessex Group has more than 200 staff most of whom have used the hospital in one capacity or another.

Mr Morgan added: “We had a tour of the hospital and saw at first hand the difference the extra money makes – across all the departments.

“We’ll be organising events through the year to support the wonderful work that goes on at the hospital.”

Mr Graham Branagan, cancer surgeon and Stars Appeal Ambassador, said “We are so grateful to everyone at the Wessex Group for choosing our hospital charity, the Stars Appeal, as their charity of the year.

“The money they raise will help local people in hospital by funding projects that provide direct, practical support to patients such as free wi-fi, accommodation for the parents of sick children, recreational trips for people with spinal injuries and support for cancer patients.”

Full details of the projects the Wessex Group are supporting can be found at starsappeal.org/our-wish-list/