Mystery millionaire donates £1.4m to Doncaster hospice

Pictured from the left is Lawson Pater, RDaSH Chairman; Mel Hewitt, Hospice Community Fundraiser; Chris Burton, Group Editor'South Yorkshire Newspapers Ltd; Helen Thompson, Hospice Matron, and Chris Bain, RDaSH Chief Executive.

Pictured from the left is Lawson Pater, RDaSH Chairman; Mel Hewitt, Hospice Community Fundraiser; Chris Burton, Group Editor'South Yorkshire Newspapers Ltd; Helen Thompson, Hospice Matron, and Chris Bain, RDaSH Chief Executive.

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A big-hearted mystery benefactor has helped deliver an early Christmas cracker for Doncaster’s cancer hospice.

The Free Press appeal to help raise £500,000 to refurbish St John’s Hospice has been smashed after a widower donated £1.4 million on behalf of his late wife.

The news means that hundreds of Doncaster people nearing the end of their lives will benefit from enhanced care and surroundings.

Mel Hewitt, hospice community fundraiser, said: “This amazing legacy means we now have now reached our target for the development appeal and we are so grateful for this gift.”

We teamed up with Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Trust as well as Doncaster Cancer Detection Trust to launch the St John’s Hospice Development Appeal.

Helath bosses had secured £1.3 million to finance the overhaul of the site in St John’s Road, Balby, but still needed to find £500,000 to complete the works.

Even though the target has been smashed the fundraising will carry on for other initiatives which help patients battling with life limiting illnesses.

Mrs Hewitt added: “Thank you to everyone who has put money in a collecting tin, supported an event, baked a cake, run, cycled, walked or donated in memory of a loved one.

Since October last year, work has seen the hospice renovated and it now provides a modern, welcoming environment. The main entrance has been relocated to provide easier access while the ward area has been transformed to provide 10 en-suite single rooms and the day care area has been refurbished.

There is now also a separate entrance for ambulances to give patients direct access to the ward. The hospice and end of life services provided by RDaSH cost £2.7 million pounds a year to run – most of this is funded by the NHS but some services are funded by donations.

Any additional funds raised will be invested in enhancing existing day to day services, upgrading the hospice garden and supporting initiatives that help patients to manage care from their own homes.

A consultation will also take place in the coming weeks with hospice patients, carers and other interested parties, asking them what they would like to see at the hospice to enhance their experience of care.

Helen Thompson, hospice matron, said: “It’s excellent news not only for hospice patients and their carers who are using the service now, but also for those people in the future.”

Chris Bain, chief executive of RDaSH, which runs the hospice, said: “This legacy is astounding. The money will be invested wisely to further enhance the services we currently offer .”

The hospice opened in 1992 and each week, on average, 50 day care patients use it.

Chris Burton, group editor of South Yorkshire Newspapers, said: “We have long supported the hospice and are proud this wonderful donation will help continue the amazing service that has been provided to the people of Doncaster over the last 20 years or so”