Tributes paid to Christine Banerjee, the nurse who helped found Rowans Hospice
Tributes have been paid to the former Portsmouth nurse who was the first person to donate cash to the creation of the Rowans Hospice and who became one of its leading lights.
Christine Banerjee was one of the original ‘Somerstown Nurses’ who campaigned for a hospice to be built in or around Portsmouth.
In 1984 she and her colleagues petitioned the then Lord Mayor of Portsmouth John Marshall to launch an appeal for money to build the hospice – and Christine’s £25 cheque was the first in the coffers, made out before the appeal had even launched, in a bid to speed up the process.
Now the hospice has paid tribute to Christine, who has died aged 79.
Ruth White, who is now the chief executive of Rowans Hospice and was chosen as its first matron by a panel including Christine, said: ‘Anyone in our community that has ever used or been supported by Rowans Hospice has to be thankful for Christine’s passion, selflessness and enthusiasm.
‘She was just the most remarkable and inspirational lady, working tirelessly throughout her whole life to champion and support the continuing development of the Rowans; a hospice she had been so instrumental in founding. She will be greatly missed by all of us.
‘We will be forever grateful to Christine. I am sure that this gratitude will be shared and echoed by every patient and family member that have used the hospice. Rowans is truly a local community hospice built
by the community for the community. Christine’s vision and determination were essential in turning a dream into a reality.’
Christine wrote about her involvement with the hospice, explaining that: ‘Working as a district nursing sister, it was apparent that there was nowhere locally for patients to receive complete palliative care. There was the busy general hospital ward or travelling miles to Countess Mountbatten Hospice in Southampton that covered a huge area which meant that there were very few places available, or Bordean House in Petersfield.
‘We were group made up of staff, nursing, clerical and others, desperate to get the need of a Hospice known. However it was hard, a hospice was something quite new to most people at that time. It was difficult to get anyone to give. We all worked full time, had families and homes to run, yet found time every day for fundraising activities and generating publicity for a local hospice for our local community.’
Christine fundraised and supported the hospice throughout her life, became a founding trustee when the charity was first formed and then on retiring from this role was awarded the title of honorary vice president and emeritus trustee up until her death on Monday.
Ian Bott, the first chairman of trustees, vice president and emeritus trustee said: ‘Christine deserves all the praise she will get for the stalwart and devoted work that she did for the Rowans. The important and inspiring work that she did – starting around 35 years ago – that led to the creation of the Rowans; a hospice that makes such a significant contribution to the people of Portsmouth and its surrounding communities.’
The Rowans Lake of Lights event is at Canoe Lake, Southsea, on Sunday at 5pm.