INVERCLYDE Royal's tea bar team are turning coffee into cash - as they fund more than £100,000 worth of new hospital equipment.

So far this year the League of Hospital Friends volunteers have funded a £32,500 cancer-diagnosing machine in the ear, nose and throat department.

They have also paid for new software systems to speed up the recovery of stroke victims and limb rehab patients, as well as those suffering from Parkinsons's.

The tea bar, named after one of its founders, the late Helen Wyllie, is also bringing home comforts to patients during their hospital stays, with money for flatscreen TVs in wards.

Volunteers take it in turns to sell refreshments from the tea bar.

Retired teacher Sandra Downie, who started volunteering six years ago, said: "It was my friend Helen Wyllie who encouraged me to volunteer.

"I work once a week and I also take care of health and safety.

"It is an honour to volunteer for the tea bar.

"Inverclyde Royal really is a special hospital.

"When people come down from other places they comment on the welcome they get and the tea bar."

The different hospital wards and departments are invited to put in bids to the League of Friends executive committee for a share of the cash raised.

Over the last 47 years the Inverclyde League of Hospital Friends have raised a mighty £1.7m.

Since January they have shelled out a total of £111,000 at the hospital, with nearly 20 successful bids, including purchasing tools to be used in theatres and a bladder scanner for Ward J.

An ice-making machine has been bought for Ward H, a pressure care mattress has been supplied for day surgery and cushions have been donated for obstetrics physiotherapy.

Greenock volunteer Sandra added: "We consider all the bids, big and small.

"It is very humbling to be able to help in this way and to support the great work that goes on in Inverclyde Royal."