Hospice hub to be a reality

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An “extremely significant” donation in the form of a bequest means Otago Community Hospice can press forward with the North Otago Hospice Hub.

Plans to establish a hospice hub in Oamaru have been in the pipeline for over two years, and various fundraisers have been held to raise money for the project.

They included the Portside Punch in June 2014, driven by Oamaru publican Sally Ann-Donnelly, which raised over $118,000, and three North Otago Boar and Stag Musters, which raised a combined total of about $29,000.

Otago Community Hospice chief executive Ginny Green said the bequest, from late North Otago resident Nigel Wilson, was an unexpected but welcome gesture.

“It took us by complete surprise. Sometimes we know when people have put us in their will – they’ll tell us – but this was completely out of the blue.

“I’m always staggered by the generosity of our community. This is incredible. A bequest like Mr Wilson’s will ensure the sustainability and growth of our services in North Otago into the future.

“Developing a hospice hub has been on the drawing board for some time, but now it can become a reality.”

She declined to reveal the exact amount of the bequest, which she described as “extremely significant”.

The amount, added to nearly $200,000 already raised through fundraisers and donations, means Otago Community Hospice can now take the next step in establishing a permanent base in Oamaru.

“We were reluctant to progress plans until we had enough capital to ensure whatever we did would be sustainable. We are now in that position,” Mrs Green said.

Otago Community Hospice wants to secure a high-profile, main street building which has the ability to house all hospice services, including its shop. It will include spaces for patient appointments and counselling sessions, an area for training, and education and staff offices.

“We’ve had a cursory glance up the main street and there’s some options. We’ll be having a second look in a couple of weeks with some of the agents in town,” Mrs Green said.

She said being based out of one building would give some “real impetus” to services in North Otago.

Mrs Donnelly, who has been a huge supporter of the hospice, said she was delighted to hear the news.

“We are just so excited about getting moving on this plan which has been a dream for two years.

“It’s pretty amazing – it’s a pretty incredible thing for someone to do.”

North Otago Hospice care co-ordinator Bridget McAtamney said the project would “future-proof” services in North Otago, while Oamaru Hospice Shop manager Jenifer Callanan said she was “very excited” about the prospect of a combined premises.