TRIBUTE has been paid to Airedale Hospital as it celebrates a milestone.

The hospital, at Steeton, opened its doors 50 years ago today – with the first patients being admitted on July 5, 1970.

Now it caters for a population of about 200,000 people and covers a sprawling 700-square-mile area, which takes in parts of West Yorkshire and East Lancashire and stretches up the Yorkshire Dales.

Community leaders have congratulated the hospital on its half-century landmark and praised the 2,500-plus staff and volunteers who work there.

Keighley’s town mayor, Councillor Peter Corkindale, said: “My congratulations go to Airedale and all the staff.

“It has undergone various changes and improvements over the years and whilst no one wants to go to hospital, the welcoming environment that Airedale Hospital has provided is a tribute to all.

“My own children and grandchildren were born there and my family and I have been treated there – and the care received was second to none.

“Recent events surrounding Covid -19 have served to further highlight the skill and dedication provided for the people of the area by all at the hospital – so well done and here’s to the next 50 years!”

Keighley MP Robbie Moore adds his congratulations and said it had been “an honour and a privilege” to work with the hospital and its chief executive, Brendan Brown, since he was elected to parliament last year.

“Meeting Brendan and the health trust chairman – Andrew Gold – was one of my first visits as the new Member of Parliament for Keighley and Ilkley,” said Mr Moore. “And I hope to continue enjoying a positive and constructive ongoing relationship with Brendan, Andrew and the hospital during the years ahead.

“Airedale Hospital has a special place in all our hearts. Indeed, the hospital and its fantastic staff have saved the lives of many constituents and their families, as well providing world-class care.

“Whilst we are still suffering the effects of Covid-19, the hospital met and exceeded all expectations when dealing with the pandemic. The selfless dedication and hard work of our outstanding NHS staff at Airedale Hospital has saved countless lives during this pandemic. A huge ‘thank you’ goes to all at the hospital for your service, it has been outstanding.

“I want to wish everybody at Airedale Hospital - from cleaners to surgeons, nurses to porters - a very happy 50th birthday!”

The hospital is marking its special birthday, but the scale of celebrations has been impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

Instead of a planned tea party, all staff will receive a ‘cream tea in a bag’.

And commemorative badges and cards are to be distributed.

The hospital is also staging a ‘50 for 50’ challenge.

People are being invited to hold celebratory activities – from home – around the number 50 and raise money for charity at the same time.

Ideas, from baking 50 buns to walking 50 miles, can be found at

Participants can set-up their own fundraising page on Just Giving and link to the health trust’s official 50:50 challenge, or simply donate sponsorship money.

Proceeds will be split between the hospital charities, Airedale Hospital & Community Charity and the Friends of Airedale.

Jodie Hearnshaw, fundraising and recognition manager at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Now more than ever we would love people to get involved in fundraising for our hospital, whilst celebrating this special occasion.

“You don’t have to be a super juggler or marathon runner to take part in the challenge.

“We want people to let us know what they are up to so we can share it too and most of all, we want people to have fun and take some time to celebrate our hospital being part of the community for the past 50 years.”