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Charitable Support for the Wessex Neurological Centre
Enhancing the range and quality of patient care and sponsoring pioneering research


Ross Fripp's Cycling...

Ross Fripp's Cycling Challenge
Ross was a fit and healthy 24 year old when he became sick in November 2014. Suspecting it was just something he'd eaten, he carried on life as normal, but the sickness continued and gradually he developed further symptoms. Following...

Spreading a Little Christmas...

Spreading a Little Christmas Cheer
We're starting to feel a little festive here in the Smile4Wessex Appeals Office with the arrival of our 2018 Christmas Cards and we are really excited to be able to share them with you.  This year we have chosen not just...

Judith and Jeremy's Race...

Judith and Jeremy's Race to the King
We had the pleasure of meeting Judith Murray and Jeremy King this week and were thrilled to be able to show them round the unit, so they could see the projects we have funded from our past appeals and hear about our current...

Ella's Chop for Charity...

Ella's Chop for Charity
12 year old Ella Ashford is preparing to have her gorgeous blonde locks cut off in her fundraising efforts to support Smile4Wessex. This is her own way of thanking the brilliant team here at the Wessex Neurological Centre,...

Waitrose Community Matters

Waitrose Community Matters
If you shop at Waitrose you can nominate Smile4Wessex as your chosen local charity by completing the nomination form found at the Customer Services desk in store. Three good causes receive a share of £1,000...

Smile4Wessex Neuro Open...

Smile4Wessex Neuro Open Day
Our long-awaited Neuro Open Day gave those attending a unique opportunity to see and learn about many of the amazing projects that Smile4Wessex has funded. Following a brief welcome and introduction, visitors were divided...

'Wall of Smiles' Launched

'Wall of Smiles' Launched
We are delighted to announce details of the Smile4Wessex 'Wall of Smiles'. For the full story of this new initiative please click Wall of Smiles  

Our History

The Wessex Neurological Centre Trust (WNCT) was founded as a registered charity in December 1982 with the primary objective of providing charitable support for research into disorders of the nervous system conducted at the Wessex Neurological Centre, and Southampton University. Between then and 2004 it used its relatively modest income to fund a number of projects, perhaps most notably through its sponsorship of the Fausto Iannotti Scholarship. Named in memory of a brilliant and greatly respected Professor of Neurosurgery, who had himself died as a result of a brain tumour, the scholarship promoted and encouraged the exchange of clinical and research knowledge by enabling clinicians to spend time working in research laboratories, before taking the experience gained back into the clinical environment.

Little more than a year after Professor Iannotti’s untimely passing, aged just 49, the sudden and unexpected death of an even younger individual was to trigger a chain of events that had a dramatic impact on the charity’s future fundraising achievements. Richard Bowler, aged just 15, collapsed whilst training with his local youth football club in Sarisbury Green. He was found to have suffered a subarachnoid brain haemorrhage from which, sadly, he never regained consciousness. 

Family and friends were devastated, vowing that some good should come from the tragedy, and the following 18 months saw over £29,000 raised by ‘Smile4Rich’ events in memory of the always smiling teenager. These funds were used to sponsor projects that benefitted children in the local community, as well as donations of over £8,000 each to the Wessex Neurological Centre Trust and the Portsmouth Hospital’s Rocky Appeal following a Smile4Rich Fun Day held in December 2003 (see S4R Fun Day for details).

In April 2004 it was agreed that ‘Smile4Rich’ would become the public face of fundraising for the WNCT and the trustees approved the launch of a major new appeal to fund the purchase of a dedicated Neuro Intensive Care Ambulance for the Wessex Neurological Centre (see 'Discover More' for details of this and other projects). Since then the charity has enjoyed considerable success, raising well over £600,000 to fund a variety of cutting-edge equipment and innovative research projects.

In 2010 it was decided to re-brand the charity’s appeals to ‘Smile4Wessex’ to more closely reflect the region and unit it supports. This was a difficult decision, but one which has the full support of Richard's family, who remain active and generous supporters of the charity. Of course, we shall never forget the fact that their tragic loss was the catalyst to a campaign that has benefitted so many, and the charity’s annual gala dinner will continue to be known as the Smile4Rich Gala and our annual golf day will continue to be played for the Smile4Rich Trophy in honour of his memory.