As we embark on the second ‘Charities in the Spotlight’ feature, this month we will take a step into one that has been close to everyone’s heart for the last 25 years.
Katharine House Hospice was set up by Neil Gadsby MBE and his wife Heather back in 1991 as a living memorial to their daughter who died in 1984 aged just 20.
Following her death the couple along with friends and family helped to raise funds for hospice services. And now 25 years it is still going strong and set to celebrate its anniversary today (Thursday).
The hospice building was approved for planning in September 1987 and opened four years later in 1991 by HRH Diana, Princess of Wales.
In the 25 years since, Katharine House Hospice has been providing palliative care for a population of more than 140,000 in Oxfordshire and South Northamptonshire and, in 2015, cared for its 9000th patient.
To mark the milestone, the hospice held a 25th Anniversary Launch evening on Thursday featuring speakers including Hospice patron and former Banbury MP Sir Tony Baldry and the hospice chairman Neil Gadsby.
Also speaking will be members of the senior medical team at Katharine House and some of the Trust’s longest-standing volunteers.
Mr Gadsby said: “Every local hospice relies on the people it serves for both financial support and voluntary activity. Throughout the life of this charity I have been impressed by the level of altruistic endeavour from every corner of the community which has made a vital contribution to the success of Katharine House .
“In contemplating the next 25 years I feel confident that, just as we wish to continue to provide care to all who turn to us for support at the end of life, so the community will wish to continue to be part of this dynamic and symbiotic relationship.”
The hospice also welcomed new chief executive Angharad Orchard this week and Banbury MP Victoria Prentis has also paid tribute to the work. She said: “Katharine House Hospice is more than a hospice – it is a local institution. All of us have known somebody who has been cared for there, and many of us have been involved in fundraising events over the years to support it.
“Neil Gadsby’s vision has been more than fulfilled. The good work of the hospice increases from year to year, with their wonderful home nursing services and other outreach programmes. My very warmest congratulations on 25 years of Katharine House Hospice – I look forward to many more commemorations.”
The hospice in Adderbury includes a day hospice where patients can visit for care and treatment, and a ten-bed inpatient unit in which patients receive first-rate medical and nursing care and support through their life-limiting illnesses.
The hospice building also contains extensive facilities for patients, including a hairdressing salon, a physiotherapy room, lymphoedema clinic, chapel and spaces for art and music therapy.
Though the hospice is set in beautiful gardens on the outskirts of Adderbury, it also provides a place of peace and rest for patients and families.
But the care provided by nurses at the hospice for the last 25 years extends far beyond the bricks and mortar of the building itself.
Since 1989, the Hospice’s Clinical Nurse Specialists were travelling around the local community providing care and support to patients in their homes.
Today the CNS programme has expanded from the original two nurses to a team of nine specialist nurses working with GP’s and hospital staff to provide care and support for more than 800 patients in the local community each year.
Bernadette Ross, director of nursing at Katharine House Hospice, said: “ The Hospice is not just a building.
“Extending support to the patients in their preferred place of care enables them to live more fully.
“Patients and families often express their gratitude for the expert care of a clinical nurse specialist who can visit and discuss issues, be they physical, emotional, spiritual or social care in nature.
These patients and families tell us that the very individual approach offered by listening and attending to the small details really does make a difference, enabling them all to cope in surprising and often fulfilling ways.”
It costs £3.6 million to run Katharine House Hospice each year, 29 per cent of which comes from local healthcare commissioners, the remainder – about £2.5 million - is raised locally.
This includes many donations by the local community, local businesses and organisations and a wide range of activities including the Midnight Walk and Santa Fun Run.
S o to meet their financial requirements every year, volunteers in the fundraising department come up with a range of different events to help meet their targets.
They now have a calendar of events held throughout the year to help raise vital funds, including the popular Midnight Walk in June and the Santa Fun Run in December. The Midnight Walk is arguably the charity’s biggest fundraiser and has attracted up to 500 walkers in the past, who walk through the streets of Banbury before paying tribute to their loved ones with a candleit vigil at a midway point.
This year will be its tenth year it has been organised and the support seems to get bigger each year.
To coincide with the hospice’s 25th anniversary they are planning on hosting their biggest Festival of Open Gardens yet. It sees supporters of Katharine House open up their gardens to the public in homes around Banbury and the surrounding villages.
Care for a Cuppa will be back for the third time this year where groups and organisations will be asked to hold a coffee morning between Sunday, March 6 and Sunday, March 13.
But as well as the events they plan each year, other groups and organisations hold events to support the hospice and its work.
The Banbury Fun Run and Paul Bithell Memorial Run is held every year in Spiceball and is regarded as one of the main warm-up events for the London Marathon. Named in memory of the former Banbury Guardian editor, the event is held in March and sees children run,jog or walk a one-mile course around the park. Visit www.khh.org.uk