FUNDRAISERS are determined to make 2003 a year to remember by providing their local hospital with life-saving equipment.

The Friends of the Friarage Hospital, in Northallerton, have set themselves the target of £150,000 for an appeal which could benefit hundreds of patients.

They want to equip the proposed endoscopy unit being planned as part of the redevelopment of the hospital, which starts this year.

The unit will help patients by providing improved access to diagnostic facilities allowing the hospital to diagnose and treat patients at an earlier stage and improving the quality of their lives.

It would allow pre-cancerous growths discovered in the large bowel to be removed when they are found - preventing colon cancer from developing.

The £150,000 would provide equipment vital to the running of the unit, including a gastroscope, diathermy machine, video system and adapter, light source, suction machines and trolleys and television monitor and colour printer.

Hospital manager John Gibb said: "As always, the Friends are rising to the challenge to benefit patients at the hospital.

"We are very grateful and have every confidence they will reach their target thanks to the generosity and support of local people."

The chairman of the Friends, Brian Thompson, said: "This unit will be a wonderful addition to the Friarage, allowing the staff to continue to provide the best treatment available in a new purpose-built unit.

"This is the reason why the Friends have now started this appeal - to make sure they have the most up-to-date equipment with which to work."

Anyone who would like to help the Friends with a donation or by staging a fundraising event, can contact Denise Passman, at the Friends of the Friarage, Friarage Hospital, Northallerton DL6 1JG or telephone (01609) 779911 extension 2013, Mondays and Thursdays.