A VILLAGE shopkeeper who sparked a campaign to provide toiletry packs for hospital patients says she’s “thrilled” at the success of the initiative.

Rita Verity – who owns Sonia’s Smile in Main Street, Haworth – had the idea for the venture when she was a patient herself at Airedale Hospital.

She suffered a heart attack after undergoing a knee replacement operation.

Rita was transferred to Harrogate District Hospital, where she spent some time on the intensive care unit.

“Whilst I was on a ventilator and unable to speak I overheard a conversation between two nurses about trying to fundraise for some toiletries,” she said.

“Once I was able to communicate, I mentioned that I had overheard and offered to help.”

Several shopkeepers at Haworth got together and raised £600, to fund 100 packs for Airedale and 100 for Harrogate District Hospital.

Each pack contains items including a toothbrush, comb, shower gel, shaving kit, body lotion, soap, shampoo and conditioner.

“I’m thrilled and grateful that it came together so well and I trust that these care packages are useful and bring a little comfort to other patients,” said Rita.

“After my experiences, I wanted to say thanks to the staff who cared for me and help other patients by providing the individual toiletry bags.”

Jodie Hearnshaw, manager of the Airedale Hospital and Community Charity, met Rita and her fellow shopkeepers to collect the packs. Also present was Sally Fielding, an intensive care unit staff nurse at Harrogate District Hospital.

Jodie said: “Our packs are now in the dignity room at Airedale, ready for staff to pick-up for patients in need.

“Thank you to Rita and the other shop owners in Haworth for such a thoughtful idea. It will make a huge difference to our patients.”

Airedale Hospital and Community Charity is the official charitable arm of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust.

With support from the public, the charity funds equipment aimed at enhancing patient care and improving staff wellbeing.

It invests in all areas across the trust.

For further information about the charity and its work – and how to support it – visit airedalecharity.org.