A CHARITY which has dedicated more than 30 years to Southend Hospital will be kicked out at the end of October.

The WRVS runs a cafe and a shop in the outpatient department at the hospital, with a 38-strong team of volunteers.

It is being kicked out as part of a multi-million pound redevelopment of the hospital.

It set up a petition in May urging visitors, nurses and doctors to sign up to save the beloved coffee shop.

Despite the petition, which attracted more than 1,000 signatures in its first day, hospital bosses decided to continue negotiations with contractor Gentian.

The company will pay for a seven-figure refurbishment of the foyer and in return will be able to run a business there.

The cafe service will serve up its final cuppa on October 28. However, the WRVS still plans to continue its ward round trolley shop.

Joy Harris, 77, of Prince Avenue, Southend, has dedicated more than 20 years to volunteering, and was involved in the campaign.

She said: “The petition we organised seemed like a complete waste of time because it made no difference when we went to see the chairman.

“We even had letters from local councillors, MPs and from the Queen’s secretary supporting us.

“The volunteers are very disappointed. It is such a shame because there always has been a lovely atmosphere around the cafe.”

Mrs Harris is hoping to continue volunteering at the hospital because she has made friends there.

Rachel Cafferty, media officer for the charity, said it had been working to ensure the trolley serices would continue, and to arrange a new home from home support service in the community.

She added: “We would like to thank staff and volunteers for their hard work over the years.”