Campaigners push ahead in bid for £4m independent hospice for Great Yarmouth and Waveney
- Credit: Archant
After years of tireless campaigning, lobbying and fundraising, a team of caring crusaders have seen their dream to build a hospice for Great Yarmouth and Waveney begin to take shape.
The purchase of a five-acre site off the A12 near Beacon Park marked a giant step forward for the East Coast Hospice (ECH) charity, as it surges forward with its plan to build a 10-bed facility for the area.
But the charity says the hard work is now beginning as it launches its capital campaign to raise the £4m needed to construct what it says is a much-needed independent hospice, which will include day-care facilities and a training centre for health professionals.
And as they plough ahead, trustees are also keen to 'draw a line in the sand' over separate plans for a 10-bed hospice at the James Paget University Hospital (JPUH), which were put forward last November but have since been dropped.
They are now pushing forward with their new fundraising campaign by launching a buy a brick scheme, and submitting grant applications to support the project.
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Angie Buxton-King, principal fundraiser, said: 'It's a really exciting time. From the purchase of the land in November there's been a huge swell of positivity and it's up to us to build on that.
'And with clarity from the JPUH that they're not going to be going ahead and building a hospice, that leaves us with a clear remit to build this hospice for the people of Great Yarmouth and Waveney.'
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Mrs Buxton-King is now working alongside newly-appointed community fundraiser Jeff Wood and ECH chairman Jenny Beesley to push ahead with the project, which is personal to them.
The trio are determined to see Yarmouth and Waveney benefit from a dedicated hospice, as they say services currently available on the east coast are 'piecemeal'.
'All of us have been there,' Mrs Buxton-King said. 'Both of us fundraisers have lost children and Jenny has lost family and had her own brush with cancer, so we all know what it's like and know what's missing from that service.'
Once finished the all-encompassing facility, which will sit less than a mile from the JPUH, will include bedrooms equipped with internet connections and en-suite bathrooms, landscaped gardens, a sanctuary room, day unit, consultation rooms and visitor bedrooms for relatives wanting to stay over.
It will also provide hospice at home and outreach services, complementary and occupational therapies, bereavement counselling, physiotherapy, respite care and other treatments.
It is hoped to extend the current five acre site by another two acres to complete the vision, with the dream of adding a children's facility in the future.
Mrs Buxton-King said: 'Most hospices find they run out of space and can't develop any further. We don't want to be in that position. The extra two acres would be the icing on the cake.'
Negotiations with the county council-owners of the extra land are ongoing.
The charity has also stressed the importance of it being an independent facility and its location off the hospital site.
Mrs Beesley said: 'The land we bought belongs to ECH, which is the people's charity - it's their land.'
'And it's their hospice and that could never have been the case if we built on James Paget land,' Mrs Buxton-King added. 'We've seen it happen. Money is raised to build a specialist cancer ward and then they close the hospital.
'Unfortunately the NHS isn't set up to be able to provide that service, which is why it's so important to be independent.'
As the renewed fundraising push starts, with building work planning to begin in 2016, the charity is now calling on its supporters to once again rally behind the scheme.
Mr Wood said: 'We have been dependent upon the local community to support us this far and we need their support to continue.
'Whenever I have spoken to people they have said 'it's great, we need a hospice'. It's really long overdue for people in this area so we want to deliver it for them.'
The buy a brick appeal hopes to kickstart the capital campaign. Bricks can be bought for between £5 and £50, or a donation of choice. Everyone who buys one will receive a commemorative certificate.
For more details about the buy a brick appeal, upcoming events and other ways you can support the project, visit www.eastcoasthospice.co.uk