Wizard idea turns dream into reality at hospice

BLAISE TAPP: 'Tis the season to be more giving to the lonely

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Nobody ever wants to watch a loved one die. However, it’s a grim rite of passage most of us have to bear at some stage of our lives.

If it has to be endured, surely home is a far, far better place to breathe your last – surrounded by family, familiar possessions and the love that only those closest to you can give.

Which is why today we salute the trustees at the Rowans Hospice in Purbrook for making permanent a scheme which allows terminally-ill people to end their days in the tranquillity of their own four walls.

It’s little more than a year since the hospice launched Dorothy’s Dream, based on the famous line from The Wizard of Oz – ‘there’s no place like home’.

A £1m target was set to pay for an 18-month pilot. It was due to end in June 2013.

It was an ambitious goal, but The News threw its weight behind the campaign, as did thousands of fund-raising readers. We all hoped that one day the trial would become a fixture. We said it ought to happen. Now it has.

There are more than 300 families who today will raise a cheer to the news.

They are the ones who have been helped by the service so far. As we report today, Carolyn Leaves is one of them. Her 57-year-old husband, Garey, was cared for by the Rowans’ hospice-at-home service.

And she says: ‘My husband was able to spend his final days at home, surrounded by his family, which would not have been possible without this charity.’

But the Rowans must not rest on its laurels.

The hospice is still £100,000 short of its £1m target to fund the scheme until June.

And to make the service permanent it must raise £500,000 annually to pay for the team of 13 nurses and health care support workers – nine of which have been taken on especially for the service.

Trustees’ chairman Ian Young puts it perfectly when he says: ‘The community has never let us down and we cannot let them down.

‘We have a moral obligation to help the people we care for.’