Helping Hand appeal for Saint Catherine's: 'We’ve had 35 years of fantastic support and it is so important that this continues'

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“Saint Catherine’s certainly has a very special place in the heart of the community – and in mine,” says its chief executive Mike Wilkerson.

Mike was speaking in support of a new appeal, launched by The Scarborough News and its sister titles, to help the charity raise the extra cash it needs this leap year.

With 366 days in 2020, the campaign is aimed at raising the money needed to fund the hospice’s extra 24 hours of care.

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Saint Catherine’s needs to raise £11,000 every day to provide its 16 specialist services to patients, their families and loved ones – with all services provided free of charge.

Mike WilkersonMike Wilkerson
Mike Wilkerson | other

For 35 years, Saint Catherine’s has provided vital support for people in the local community. Services are provided across a 1,600 square mile area including Scarborough, Whitby, Ryedale, Filey, Hunmanby, Bridlington and Driffield.

Mike says: “I feel very proud to be heading up such an incredible organisation, with such dedicated staff and volunteers who strive every day to provide the very best patient care.”

Mike has worked in hospices for nearly 15 years and says his passion and drive has always been to ensure that care and support is accessible to all those who need it, both in the hospice and in their own homes.

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The hospice receptionThe hospice reception
The hospice reception | jpimedia

Only a third of the charity’s funding comes from NHS commissioners.

Mike explained: “We rely heavily on our wonderful community to raise money to ensure the hospice can continue to care for local people. Simply put, we could not do what we do without you.

“It takes a community to make a hospice – and we value each and every contribution that comes in to us. I really can’t emphasise that enough. Every donation makes a real difference to patients and their families.”

Saint Catherine’s is celebrating its 35th anniversary, having opened in April 1985, originally in Scalby Road. The building was officially opened by Princess Margaret.

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The hospice in Throxenby LaneThe hospice in Throxenby Lane
The hospice in Throxenby Lane | jpimedia

The concept of Saint Catherine’s was developed during a meeting between Dr David Fletcher, a surgeon at Scarborough Hospital, Reverend Brian Fitzpatrick, a Methodist Minister, and Dr Tony Chico, a GP. In 1981, a Board of Trustees was formed to turn that dream into a reality.

Such was the overwhelming response of local people that within four years of the idea first being conceived, the hospice was welcoming its first patients.

As services developed, the hospice had outgrown the existing site by the late 1990s and a purpose-built, new development was planned.

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Following a new build appeal, the £2 million target was successfully raised by the end of 2003 and the relocation to the purpose-built facility at Throxenby Lane took place in May 2004.

Saint Catherine’s now offers specialist services including an in-patient unit, Wellbeing Centre, Education Centre, outpatient clinics, physiotherapy and occupational therapy, a lymphoedema clinic, complementary therapies, support from clinical nurse specialists, social work and spiritual care.

The ‘Hospice at Home’ service provides support, day and night, to allow more patients to remain in their own home at the end of their life. Palcall, an out-of-hours telephone support service, is also available, as is a counselling service.

A 550-strong team of volunteers provides vital support across all areas of the hospice, including in the 11 charity shops.

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Mike said: “Our volunteers are fantastic – we simply couldn’t run all the services we offer without them. In terms of the hours they give and the work they do, their contribution is worth over a million pounds a year. But in reality I would say they are priceless.”

Saint Catherine’s looks after around 3,000 patients, their families and loved ones every year. Many referrals – around 59% – actually result in a discharge, with many patients using the services and going home again.

Mike said: “There is a misconception that people just go to hospices to die, but this isn’t the case. A great many of our patients benefit from our services and return home.

“It is all about helping patients remain as active as possible and giving them the support they need to make the most of every day. We might not be able to add days to patients’ lives, but we can add life to their days.

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Patients and families can understandably feel nervous or frightened about coming to a hospice, but the warm welcome they receive, along with the support given by our dedicated staff and volunteers, means they have no hesitation in coming back.”

Mike thanked the community for their ongoing support, adding: “We’ve had 35 years of fantastic support and it is so important that this continues so we can be here for the next 35 years and beyond. We can only do it with your help – thank you so much from all of us here.”