As we prepare to say farewell to 2016 one local charity is already looking forward to next year as it marks its 20th anniversary of providing essential home nursing care in the area.
Shipston Home Nursing was established in 1997 by Charlie Wells, a district nurse who took care of her sister, Penny Birtwell, as she lost her battle with breast cancer at just 41 years of age.
This experience gave Ms Wells a clear and deeply profound understanding of the value of caring for the terminally ill in the comforts of their own home and she decided to focus on providing palliative care. Shipston Home Nursing was born.
Charlie surrounded herself with like-minded healthcare professionals who shared her vision of offering support to terminally-ill patients in the home. One such person, was Rebecca Mawle a close friend of Penny’s.
Rebecca said: “When Penny died Charlie felt there was an enormous need for a hospice at home charity within this community. She approached me to see if I would help with the fundraising.
“So I and another girl called Jo Mitchell kicked off the fundraising campaign.”
The goal in 1997 was to raise £50,000 and would be achieved through contacts with local businesses and organisations.
For what was a critical role within the fledgling charity, to secure funds for its very survival, one would assume that Rebecca brought with her a wealth of fundraising experience but this was not the case.
What she did bring to the role, however, was far more important and a trait which could never be learned from all the fundraising books in the world - local knowledge.
Rebecca explained: “I have never been to university, never did any fundraising. But what has probably been helpful for me, enormously helpful now but even at the start was that I had lived in this area for 15 or 20 years and I did know a lot of local people.
“You’re asking local people so if you know them then it’s probably easier to approach them.”
Once up and running, the charity cares for about 40 patients although this has started to increase during the last 12 months due to reorganisation and improved ways to coordinate care.
But its core values borne from a family caring for one of its own, remains.
Rebecca said: “The charity is a fantastic charity and our nurses are truly brilliant. Our nurses go above beyond their duty to care for the patient and the family.
“They become their friends and that’s why it has worked.”