Crossword compiler is really clued up when it comes to hospital funds

�Puzzlers, crossword books and well-thumbed Sudoku tomes are indispensable on boring hospital wards – and the Whittington Hospital has picked up on the trend.

Their very own crossword compiler, who has been fundraising for the Highgate Hill hospital for 20 years, has combined nine years of expertise into a special book called Crosswords.

Ellen Beckett lives just opposite the hospital in Raydon Street. She has been involved with the Whittington since its first fundraising day in 1992 in Hurst Avenue.

Her love of crosswords has always been common knowledge – she even compered quizzes for the Whittington Social club.

“I do The Telegraph and The Times crossword every morning,” she said. “Although I am not always successful, I did win a Telegraph pen!”

Nine years ago, after years of tireless fundraising, Mrs Beckett was asked to write a crossword for the Link newsletter which was distributed throughout the hospital. But there was one catch.

“I like cryptic crosswords and the first few I wrote were cryptic,” said Mrs Beckett.

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“But I soon realised that the only person who came close to being able to solve them was Charles Buckley on the night-time switchboard. So I decided I had better write general knowledge ones instead.”

After breaking her leg and finding herself stuck off her feet, she decided it was time to put all her hard work into a book to raise even more money for the hospital.

Initially, the hospital printed 500 copies of the �5 book – which features the Whittington’s iconic black cat logo strolling across a crossword grid – and copies are selling fast.

Funds raised from the book will go towards the hospital’s Care of Older People Appeal.

The Whittington’s communications officer Deborah Goodheart said: “Ellen Beckett has always been a great supporter of and contributor to the Whittington.

“When she suggested putting this book together, we leapt at the idea as we knew it would be a winner with patients and the public.

“After a few days, Crosswords is already selling well on the stall, on the wards and online.”

As well as the 50 crosswords, including the bumper Christmas ones, there are 25 conundrums which are all London tube stations.

Mrs Beckett has given the Ham&High a taster one to try: Where Sindy doll doesn’t succeed…

n For details about the Care of Older People Appeal, visit