PATIENTS at a town hospital now have access to iPads to speak with loved ones as over 70 are bought using money from NHS Charities, which Captain Tom raised £30 million for ahead of his 100th birthday today, and even more devices have been donated privately.

Covid-19 patients at Darlington Memorial Hospital and across the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust can now speak to their loves ones while in isolation thanks to the efforts of Captain Tom Moore - who has been given an honorary colonel title - which saw the now 100-year-old complete 100 laps of his garden ahead of his birthday on April 30.

Some of the £30 million Capt Tom raised for NHS Charities, which represents a collection of NHS charities, has started being spent. The County Durham and Darlington trust has bought 72 iPads for its patients by accessing the funds, while a further 72 have been privately donated, bringing the total to 144.

A spokesperson for the trust, said: “We’re enormously grateful and humbled by the kindness and generosity people have shown.

"In the last few days we’ve used funding from NHS Charities Together, to purchase 72 iPads to help patients stay in contact with loved ones whilst visiting is restricted.

"While visiting is necessarily restricted, due to Covid-19, the iPads mean patients can see, speak to, and generally keep in touch with their loved ones – the next best thing to a visit.”

Arthur Richardson was one of the first patients to benefit.

He said: “Being able to use the iPad to stay in touch with my family is really good. I’ve been in Darlington Memorial Hospital for over a week now, so my wife, children and grandchildren haven’t seen me in that time. This means I can see them, they can see me and we can have a chat, which is lovely.”

Commenting, charity manager Pat Chambers said: “Donations to our charity help fund amazing projects that enhance the great work of the trust, helping to ensure patients and staff receive the support they need during these challenging times. Being able to stay in such direct contact with family and friends gives patients a huge lift.”

The trust’s spokesperson added: “Captain Tom Moore’s amazing achievement and fundraising has helped make this possible and, on behalf of our colleagues and patients we’d like to thank him and wish him a very happy 100th birthday.”