Bolton Hospice revealed this summer that it is facing huge financial pressures and could be forced to make deep cuts. This prompted The Bolton News to launch the Save Bolton Hospice campaign which has so far proven to be a major success. In the first of a three part special report we look at how much money has already been raised. 

The 'kindness and generosity' of people has raised £450,000 'to save' Bolton Hospice.

A campaign was launched jointly by The Bolton News and Bolton Hospice in July this year after warning that a “broken” funding model could lead to swinging cuts, which could mean having to cut a third of beds.

It was revealed this week that the campaign has brought in £450,000 so far.

Dr Leigh Vallance, chief executive of Bolton Hospice said: “We have been overwhelmed with the incredible kindness, support and generosity of the people of Bolton and beyond and want to say a huge, heartfelt thank you to all those who have joined our efforts in so many ways – through donations, fundraising, supporting our charity shops and more

The Bolton News: Bolton Hospice

"This unwavering support, in the midst of a cost of living crisis affecting so many of us, is truly humbling.

"Every penny will be used to sustain our care and support for local people that bit longer, a priceless gift for the families we support.”

The Chorley New Road hospice is a vital resource for people all over the borough, like 73-year-old David Youngman who traumatically lost his wife Lesley, a 68-year-old former special needs teacher a year-and-a-half ago.

Mr Youngman said: “Considering Lesley was only in the hospice for three days, three days of relative calm and serenity, at the end of her life, it has become a special place for me.”

Struggling to talk about his grief, Mr Youngman began to attend the hospice’s bereavement support group’s regular meetings.

The gentle, unpressured meetings and the one-to-one meetings with bereavement support lead John Hall proved to be a lifeline.

The Bolton News: The campaign was launched this summerThe campaign was launched this summer (Image: Newsquest)

Mr Youngman said: “I don’t have to talk; nothing is expected of me at the group meetings.

“I can just be in the support meetings and then see John separately.

“I often just call in for a coffee at the Wellbeing Hub and feel better being there in the hospice in its serene and safe atmosphere.

“Grief is such a weird, all-consuming emotion and it’s different for everyone.

“Well-meaning people say you should keep busy, move on, but I couldn’t, I can’t.”

He says that the Wellbeing Hub’s creative work allowed him the chance to “just lose myself” in water colour painting.

He said: “I’m not really a creative person but I just concentrated on the painting and nothing else.”

Mr Youngman says he is grateful to the hospice for its bereavement services but is deeply concerned by its current cost of living funding problems and keen to support its future.

He said: “It would simply be a huge loss if anything happened to the bereavement support service here.

“It means so much to so many people in different, individual ways, we can’t lose it.”

The Bolton News: The campaign has raised more than £400,000The campaign has raised more than £400,000 (Image: Bolton Hospice)

The hospice relies on a combination of private donations and fundraising, some of it left in people's wills, with contributions from the government via the NHS.

A debate in Westminster in June this year heard how Bolton Hospice is running at a £1.2million loss and could be forced to cut nearly a third of beds.

In an exclusive follow up interview with the Bolton News carried out in the aftermath of the debate, hospice chief executive Dr Leigh Vallance said cuts could be made as early as the next financial year if fundamental changes are not made.

Bolton Hospice runs a total of 16 beds along with other services like the Hospice at Home and the Wellbeing Hub that has proven to be so important to bereaved people like David Youngman.

Cutting six of those beds would mean losing more than 2,000 bed days for the people of Bolton and an extra 2,000-bed pressure on the NHS Foundation Trust.

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Fortunately, since the launch of the Save Bolton Hospice campaign an incredible total of £450,000 has been raised so far, with more yet to come.

The campaign has won hearts and minds across the borough since its inception and has been nominated for the “Make a Difference Award” as part of Journalism Matters Week.

More needs to be done to take the hospice to its £1million target but Dr Vallance and her colleagues say they have been hearted by how people have responded and the fulsome support that the community has given them.

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The incredible efforts people have made will also help to take pressure off Royal Bolton Hospital and other vital services maintained by Bolton NHS Foundation Trust.

Chief executive Fiona Noden said: “Bolton Hospice plays a vital role for so many people in our community, helping families who need it most and providing them joy and comfort in what can be their toughest days.

“You never know when you or a loved one will need a service like the hospice provide so it’s fantastic to see so many people getting behind such a great cause and giving so generously, especially when times are so tough.”

Donations can be made online by going to Save Bolton Hospice on GoFundMe.