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No more wheelie bin race or horse show donations

Save our hospice – special report

Steve Waterman organises a charity horse show for the hospice with wife Claire
Steve Waterman organises a charity horse show for the hospice with wife Claire

The Pilgrims Hospices could suffer a devastating slump in donations as a result of closing the Canterbury centre, it is feared. Already a major fundraising event planned for July has been cancelled and the organisers of another event say they will donate the proceeds to a different good cause. There are also claims that supporters have cancelled bank standing orders to the charity and wills are being reconsidered. Steve and Claire Waterman, of Cairo Lodge, Dargate, have raised nearly £20,000 for the hospice over the last three years — from organising a charity horse show in memory of a friend who was cared for at the hospice. But now they have cancelled the planned event in July in dismay at the closure. In a letter to hospice fundraising manager Deborah Kellond, they say:

“It is with a heavy heart that we have to inform you that we will no longer be running our show in memory of Brenda Irving. Each year when we bring in the proceeds of the show, we ask that you invest it in specific inpatient care at Canterbury. Having now been made aware that the hospice in Canterbury will be closing to inpatients, we feel that continuing the show would not be appropriate. We are in the process of cancelling the event and also informing everyone who helps out, explaining our reasons and thanking them for their help over the past years. The decision to cancel the show was not an easy one. Explaining our reasons to Brenda’s family was not pleasant, but we have their full support and understanding. We hope you understand our decision, and also feel the disappointment that the proposed closure has generated throughout our community.”

Landlord Buster McDonnell raised £1,400 with the bin race last year
Landlord Buster McDonnell raised £1,400 with the bin race last year

Mr Waterman said they planned to hold a new charity event next year to raise funds for people and causes in and around the village. Buster McDonnell, landlord of the Three Horseshoes at Staplestreet, Hernhill, organises the popular wheelie bin race in the village, which last year raised £1,400 for the hospice. But he is also angry at the planned closure and says the money raised from this year’s event will go to another local good cause instead. Mr McDonnell, whose wife Kay is a counsellor at the hospice, said:

“It’s not a decision I have taken lightly or on my own. A lot of people are very angry and disappointed by it. Most people know of someone who has had a loved one cared for at the hospice and that includes many who take part in the race. It is a place many hold dear to their hearts and the fact is that not everyone wants to die at home, or their family could not cope with it. I think the trustees have seriously underestimated the loss in donations they could suffer from the Canterbury community.”

Centre closure was ‘inevitable’

She may have founded tne Canterbury hospice 32 years ago, but Ann Robertson is backing plans to close the 16-bed unit. The retired nurse, pictured, says she is fully supportive of the vision the trustees have for taking hospice care into the community. She said:

“The rationale behind it is very sound. Things change – look what has happened to the former mental hospitals and sanatoriums we used to have for diseases like TB. The fact is that Ashford and Margate hospices will still only be 30 minutes away. It was inevitable because it doesn’t make sense to keep pouring money into a building no longer fit for purpose. I believe we can deliver more care to more people who need it in their homes. The day we stand still and pat ourselves on the back for doing well, wilt be the day the hospice ceases to achieve what it should be doing.”

Flower festival to raise funds

Amateur florists are hoping to raise funds for the Pilgrims Hospice at a flower festival over the May Bank Holiday. St Mary’s Church in Chartham is hosting, and the event will have the theme “recycle, renew and relive”. Teas, coffees and other refreshments will be available at the festival, which takes place from Friday, May 23 to Sunday, May 25. There will also be concerts In the church at 7.30pm on the Friday and Saturday, and a songs of praise service at 6.30pm on Sunday.

Help needed at hospice shop

Pilgrims Hospices’ Frocks ‘N’ Stock vintage clothes shop in Burgate is low on helpers. Retail coordinator Jenny Mastin said:

“We’ve just had the downstairs section turned into a boutique bargain basement, but we can’t always open it because we haven’t got the staff. We’re really struggling, which means we can’t make enough money for the charity.”

Jenny urges anyone interested to pop into the shop, call 01227 636875 or visit pilgrimshospices.org

Herne Bay Gazette, May 15th 2014

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