Nineteen-year-old Neil Higley is planning to study performing arts at university. He first became involved with the League of Friends of Reading Hospitals by taking to the catwalk in a fundraising fashion show.

He also did work experience in the league office with secretary Carol Arnold, who is his neighbour. 'When we were doing the fashion shows we were just raising money and it was just like a charity thing, and it didn't really mean a lot at the time. But afterwards when I went with Carol and she was giving money to parts of the hospital I could see what a difference it made to people.'

On one occasion the league was presenting a chair for a hospital waiting room. Most people, he says, think these basic things are bought by the NHS.

'Seeing the nurses and the people being really thankful because they had been given a chair made me feel angry, but it also made me feel kind of good because I was making a difference. I wasn't taking the whole time, I was giving something back.

'Some people are surprised that a boy is doing things like this but I think that opinion is a bit outdated. You have so much fun doing the whole thing, performing the shows and helping people.

'It's a lot more than just raising money, because you are actually making a difference, making people smile, making people laugh, making people happy. And if they are happy they get better quicker, and I think that is what the league of friends sums up for me.'