A COUPLE from the south of France were in Ludlow visiting the town and looking at property with a view to moving to the area.

During the visit they encountered supporters of the Ludlow Hospital League of Friends collecting money and made a contribution.

Colin and Mickie Wynne-Davies thought nothing more of it until they heard that the Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust had refused to accept the money because of the way that it was collected.

The couple have been so outraged by what they describe as ‘political correctness gone mad’ that they have agreed to match the £2,500 that was raised but with one condition.

“We want the person at the Trust responsible for this ridiculous decision to admit that they got it wrong and apologise,” said Colin Wynne-Davies, who hopes other people might consider a similar gesture of offering a donation in exchange for an apology.

“The hospital clearly needs the money and if we move back to Ludlow or the surrounding area we may well be using the hospital so wanted to support what was so clearly a good cause."

News of the refusal to accept the donation has gone national and international.

“This is a further example that things have just gone too far,” said Mickie Wynne-Davies.

“If no offence was intended then none should be taken and these people clearly just wanted to help the hospital.

“Where will this all end? People dress in all kinds of fancy dress in events like the London Marathon. Before long people will be frightened to do anything.”

The couple who moved to the south of France 14 years ago now say that they want to move back to England to be closer to family and have Ludlow and the surrounding area at the top of their list.

In an unusual step, Philip Dunne, MP for Ludlow and a Minister at the Department for Health, has called upon Jan Ditheridge, chief executive of the NHS Trust and chairman Mike Ridley to reconsider their decision.

He believes a sensible step would be to register their concerns about the dressing up known but accept the money.

However, the NHS Trust remains unrepentant and says that it has no further comment to make.

In a letter sent to Peter Corfield, chairman of the League of Friends of Ludlow Hospital, Jan Ditheridge and Mike Ridley set out their reasons for refusing the donation.

They say that men dressing up as nurses and other health workers is an unacceptable way of collecting money because it is demeaning and involves the ‘sexualisation’ of women.

But Mr Corfield believes that the refusal of the money is an overreaction.

He says that apart from the two health bosses there have been no complaints and that the dressing-up and the bed-push has been an innocent way of raising funds for the hospital for more than a quarter of a century.

A petition against the refusal of the donation collected more than 4,000 on-line signatures in less than a week.