COUNTY Gazette columnist and former BBC Somerset correspondent Clinton Rogers has been appointed president of the League of Friends of Musgrove Park Hospital, in Taunton.

He replaces one-time accident and emergency consultant, Dr Chris Cutting, who carried out the role for 25 years.

Dr Cutting spent 29 years working at Musgrove, one of the first roles in a pilot scheme established by the NHS in 1972 that grew from a dozen doctors in what was then known as casualty to the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.

He 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 £8million.

"And almost everyone connected with the charity is a volunteer.

"It’s been a real pleasure for me to be part of it for so long.”

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

“His background knowledge, his commitment, his enthusiasm has been inspirational for others,” said Mr Renshaw.

“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 £1.5million to the hospital for its first robotic surgery console.

The shop at Musgrove is run by the league, 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 fundraising, in particular legacies, which in the past have enabled it to fund huge projects at the hospital, including robotic surgery.

“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 fundraising is hard.”