THE man who has led the League of Friends of Musgrove Park Hospital, in Taunton, for the past 25 years is stepping down.

Dr Chris Cutting, a former accident and emergency consultant, said it was time for somebody new at the helm.

He will be succeeded by Clinton Rogers, who for more than 40 years was the BBC’s correspondent in Somerset and is currently a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Somerset.

Dr Cutting served as a consultant at Musgrove Park Hospital for 29 years, one of the first in a pilot scheme established by the NHS in 1972. 

It was a specialism which grew from a dozen doctors in what was then known as ‘Casualty’ to the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.

Dr Cutting said: “I have always said that I think the League of Friends of Musgrove is one of the most successful charities of its kind in the country.

“During the last six decades we have funded equipment at the hospital worth more than £8 million. 

“And almost everybody connected with the charity is a volunteer.

“It has been a real pleasure for me to be part of it for so long.”

League chairman Peter Renshaw said Dr Cutting’s contribution to the charity could not be overstated.

He said: “His background knowledge, his commitment, his enthusiasm, has been inspirational for others.

“We will miss him as president but I know he will still be there to support us in what we do.”

The league recently gave £1.5 million to the hospital to buy its first robotic surgery console, enabling robotic surgery to take place in Musgrove for the first time.

The shop in Musgrove is run by the League of Friends, as is Bastable Lodge, a bungalow on the hospital site which enables relatives of acutely ill patients to have emergency accommodation free of charge.

Mr Rogers said: “The league was the original charity at Musgrove and I know it is close to the hearts of many people.

“It is a true honour to be asked to become president, though I accept the role with some trepidation.

“Chris will be an almost impossible act to follow.”

The league relies heavily on public support for its fund-raising, in particular legacies, which in the past have enabled it to fund huge projects in the hospital, including the robotic surgery.

Mr Rogers said: “We have to keep the league of friends in the public eye.

“It does such enormously important work, but we all know that in these straightened times, fund-raising is hard.”