Weldmar Hospicecare is marking 25 years of providing Hospicecare throughout Dorset.
On 19th January 1994, the doors of Weldmar’s inpatient unit were opened to the first patients, after four years of planning and dedicated fundraising within the county. The journey started years before the hospice was opened, when Major John Greener, one of the three founders, had the vision to provide a service for people at the end of their lives in Dorset.
The design work began on the concept of what was then known at Joseph Weld House in January 1990, with formal planning approved in early 1991. The hospice was built on a 4.5-acre site in Herringston Road which was made available by the Duchy of Cornwall, on what was originally part of its Fordington Farm.
Once formal planning was approved in 1992, Sir Joseph Weld carried out the first turf cutting ceremony. HRH The Prince of Wales, who has been the Patron of Weldmar Hospicecare since 1994, made his own architect available for consultation throughout the planning and building of the hospice.
Some £3.2m was needed to build and furnish the inpatient unit with an addition £2m to be put in an endowment fund to run the services ongoing.
Caroline Hamblett, Weldmar’s chief executive, said: “Back in 1994, £900,000 was required each year to fund the services. Today that figure was increased to over £7m which is raised through Weldmar’s chain of charity shops, fundraising events and legacies.
“Two hundred and ninety patients were admitted to the inpatient unit in 1994 and over 8,300 patients have been cared for within the building since. Our services have evolved over the years, merging with two other charities, which now allows us to provide inpatient care, a community nursing service and day services across the county.
“Over 20,000 patients, throughout Dorset, have received care and support from Weldmar Hospicecare since 1994, and that doesn’t include all of the family support we provide as well.”
Weldmar’s services have massively developed since 1994. Weldmar cares and supports patients with any life-limiting illness including cancer, Parkinson’s, MS and are the specialists in the county for supporting patients with Motor Neurone Disease. Day services are held weekly in Bridport, Blandford, Dorchester, Sherborne and Weymouth and Weldmar’s team of community nurses provide much-needed support in the comfort of patients own homes, with 80% of Weldmar’s care and support given in the community.
Matt Smith, director of fundraising & marketing for Weldmar, said: “Our services have grown dramatically over the years. We now support over 2,400 people throughout Dorset each year, compared to 290 in 1994.
“Our thanks must go to everyone who continues to support Weldmar in many different ways – shopping with us, donating to us, supporting our events or volunteering their time. We really appreciate the support we have received from our local community over the past 25 years and we look forward to continuing to provide vital end of life care in Dorset for another quarter of a centenary and beyond.”
Weldmar Hospicecare would also like to express its sincere gratitude to the three founders of the hospice, Major John Greener, David Revell and Caroline Nickinson. After officially showing HRH The Prince of Wales around the hospice in June 1994, Major John Greener spent his last days as a patient within the hospice that he had the vision to build.
Caroline Nickinson, the only founder who is still alive today, said: “I visited John Greener in the hospice before he died and he said to me ‘Caroline, this is good, this is what we wanted to do’ and I shall never ever forget that.”
To see a full timeline of the past 25 years, visit www.weld-hospice.org.uk