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Pontefract Local History

THE PRINCE OF WALES HOSPICE
IN PONTEFRACT


PART FOUR - FLOWER FUNDS AND GARDENS


OLIVER WALKER

This month’s article on the hospice has a decidedly flowery theme. The hospice plans a large extension to their gardens this summer, but the organisation has benefitted from ‘green’ methods in raising funds for many years now.

The ‘flower fund’ was established in April 1984 by Dr. George Ward and his wife Christine. It is becoming increasingly common that when a loved one passes away, instead of buying flowers for the funeral, friends and family make a charitable donation to the hospice instead. Many people do this as they believe that the person’s memory is better preserved through a donation to charity rather than purchase perishable flowers.

Whatever their reasons for giving, these donations do not go unrecognised. The name of every person whose loved ones donated money in lieu of flowers, is recorded in a book of remembrance in the chapel at the hospice. The book records their name, where they were from and the date they passed away. Every day the book is opened to the correct day of the year and relatives regularly visit the hospice on the anniversary of their loved ones death to take a few moments to view the book and remember. In addition, the names of those who have been remembered in this way are printed in the Pontefract and Castleford Express.

The book was opened in 1986 by The Prince of Wales when he was visiting one of the support groups. The first page of the book, which was signed by The Prince, was framed and hung on the wall outside the chapel. The Flower Fund has made a huge contribution to the hospice over the years and in 2005 alone raised £62,797!

As well as helping to fund nursing and medical care for patients, flower fund donations are also used to maintain homely surroundings for our patients, including developing and maintaining the hospice’s attractive gardens. The gardens were first opened in the summer of 1991 and are due to be extended later this year.

The garden was constructed by a five-man team with Eddie Ritson as Chairman, Walter Haigh as Secretary and Gary Land, Dennis Binns and Rod Crowther as Committee Members. The intention was to improve the environment and provide peaceful surroundings that patients could enjoy. Many of the trees and plants in the garden came from the original ‘Buy-a-Tree’ campaign. Each support group donated their own tree, as did members of the public. In just one week at the end of March 1991, the garden was transformed as people brought in the trees they had purchased and planted them, some even taking a photograph as a memento. Several famous people helped with the planting including the actress Liz Dawn, who plays Vera Duckworth in Coronation Street. The gardens have matured and been enjoyed by patients ever since.

The support groups, the garden party, the flower fund and fundraising by groups in the local community have helped the hospice expand over the years. There are now ten patient bedrooms and a day hospice attended by up to a further ten people each weekday. The hospice also has an out-patient clinic treating people with Lymphodema and offers complementary therapies to patients and carers.

Ambitious plans for extensions to the hospice gardens take shape this summer and will include a water feature and landscaping that will be fully wheelchair accessible, for patients and visitors to enjoy all year. Supporters of the hospice will be invited to purchase a plant for the garden in the autumn.

Meanwhile fundraising continues in earnest for an extension to the hospice building which will provide four new patient bedrooms and a bigger day hospice facility, to meet the growing needs of patients with cancer, motor neurone disease, heart disease and other life limiting illnesses.

The hospice continues to be a true community facility – funded by people in the five towns, for people in the five towns.

Oliver Walker

With thanks to Eddie Ritson for his help compiling this article.


Other articles about the Pontefract Hospice by Oliver Walker

Prince of Wales Hospice in Pontefract Part 1 - Laying the Foundations 
Prince of Wales Hospice in Pontefract Part 2 - Support Groups
Prince of Wales Hospice in Pontefract Part 3 - Inaugural Half-Marathon


 

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