21st April 2024

The Prospect Hospice: together making every day count

The strapline on the sign at the edge of the Prospect hospice Swindon grounds couldn’t be more apt. Though I only realized quite how apt when the CEO, Jeremy Lune, gave me a tour in recent weeks.

Prospect Hospice Swindon - sign at the edge of the hospice grounds
Prospect Hospice Swindon – sign at the edge of the hospice grounds

Now, I’ve written on this blog about the health and leisure provision in Swindon from the inception of the GWR Medical Fund Society begun in 1847 to the opening of the Oasis in 1976. To my absolute chagrin, I had no idea that the Prospect hospice has been care giving in Swindon and its environs for almost as long as Swindon’s families have been diving down the Domebusters. I burst my right ear drum on those things. It’s never healed up. But I digress.

As it says on the Prospect Hospice website:

‘Since 1980, Prospect Hospice has provided the only dedicated end-of-life care service for people living across north east Wiltshire including Swindon, Marlborough and Royal Wootton Bassett as well as Fairford and Lechlade in Gloucestershire. We bring care, comfort and confidence, around the clock, every day of the year.’

Who knew it had been so long? Well not I that’s for sure. I’ve laboured under the impression that the hospice was only as old as the building housing it – and that didn’t come until 1995 with an official opening by Princess Anne. I’d not appreciated its history at all.

The History of the Prospect Hospice

There’s no need for me to go into too much detail of the hospice’s story – after all you can read it for yourself on their website. But I’d like to highlight that the reason we’re so fortunate to have this wonderful facility is down to the sheer determination of one Reverend Derryck Evans, the founder. And of course, those who shared his vision to make available here, the level of compassionate care pioneered by Dame Cicely Saunders at St Christopher’s Hospice in south London.

Left, the hospice's founder, Rev Derryck Evans and the late Lord Joel Joffe, friend and benefactor
Image taken from the Su Starkey book below.

Things I’d not appreciated

So the life-span of Prospect wasn’t the only thing I hadn’t appreciated. Not only did I think that the history of the hospice was only as old as its building, I also thought its activities were restricted to within those walls. But no – that’s far from so. In fact, the Prospect carries out extensive care services in the community. ‘We offer a range of services that have been developed to help you stay at home and support your sense of independence when you are living with a life-limiting illness.’

Indeed, if there’s one key message to convey about the work of the hospice we can put it into two words: person-centric. The hospice’s website again: ‘Our services help people cope by building their confidence and reducing their anxiety through advice, information and emotional and practical support. We do this by working alongside your doctor, community nurses and others to provide coordinated care.’ 

And another thing – the Prospect isn’t only about cancer. It also has patients dying from motor neurone disease. Indeed, some funding does come from the motor neurone association

Show me da money

If there’s a second key message to get across – and there is – it’s that of funding. Where it comes from and how much. And so on and so forth. 

I would forgive you for thinking that Prospect Hospice – as with any hospice – is funded by the NHS. But no. Hospices are the only area of health and care provision NOT in receipt of NHS funding. Who knew huh?

So where does the funding come from?

Well, three quarters of the hospice’s income is derived from donations and fundraising. The Prospect shops are a big source of income. They bring in something like £2.1million pa. And there’s £1.6 million in statutory funding.

There’s also support from Swindon-based travel business Imagine Cruising. They sponsor hospice events and are working with them on their retail.

But – there’s a but. Of course there is. Many, many people go to great lengths to raise funds for the hospice. A friend of mine has recently done a trek to Iceland. That would be the country not the frozen food store. And if you want to know more about that and perhaps even donate you can do both of those things here.

Yet, despite the best efforts of such wonderful people as Aurelie there’s a gaping hole in what’s needed. So where I said earlier abut this wonderful thing that we have. Well we’re in danger of not having this wonderful thing. The Swindon Link magazine reports on this worrying situation.

The Prospect’s CEO, Jeremy Lune explained the situation to the Link, commenting how hard it was to say that the hospice is under threat and in urgent need of a lifeline.

‘ … It’s down to the financial challenges we face, as people’s ability to give is affected by the cost-of-living crisis, and the NHS funding, falls far short of what’s needed…

… We have reduced the number of beds in our inpatient unit to six, despite having room for twelve.
This is devastating for all of us who strive to offer end-of-life care to everyone in our community. This decision, as hard as it has been, isn’t enough, as we still go into the new financial year with a £1 million hole in our finances – out of the £8.5 million it costs to run the hospice each year.’

Not that our hospice is alone. This news from Prospect comes as a national charity Hospice UK warned hospices were facing a £77m deficit. Every hospice in the land is on a financial knife’s edge.

What can I do?

That’s an excellent question. Well obvs you can donate, you can spend money in the Prospect’s shops and you can fundraise. But you can also write to your MP and tell them how important this is.  To help you, Prospect’s CEO has put a template on their website for you. All you have to do is copy and paste it into your email client and off you go. You’ll find it here: https://www.prospect-hospice.net/supporter-email-to-mp/

It’s a staggering statistic that one in two of us will face some sort of cancer at some stage. That’s all you need to know about how vital the hospice movement is. Thus, this funding black hole is not so much a matter of life and death – as a matter of death and death – in all ways and all senses of those words.

So please. Write that letter. And then tell your friends!



This book, if you can get hold of it, is worth browsing.

40 years of the Prospect Hospice by Su Starkey
40 years of the Prospect Hospice by Su Starkey

What I’m about to say now may well sound flippant – and I guess it sort of is – but at the same time it’s …. real … Anyone who knows me at all will know how very fond I am of a patio, a parasol and a ray or two of sunshine. And that’s exactly what the rooms at the Prospect Hospice have as you can see in this image from Su Starkey’s book. I was well impressed I can tell you.

On the day I visited the sun came out and patients in their beds and their families were out on their personal patios enjoying the sun and the views of the grounds. And it struck me then that surely, surely, surely there are worse places to die than this? I mean, of course we all want to die peacefully in our sleep. But we don’t all get that wish do we?

So we simply must not allow the support, the care, the love and the wonderful physical environment offered by the Prospect Hospice to disappear.

One of the rooms at Prospect Hospice

‘Since 1980, Prospect Hospice has provided the only dedicated end-of-life care service for people living across north east Wiltshire including Swindon, Marlborough and Royal Wootton Bassett as well as Fairford and Lechlade in Gloucestershire. We bring care, comfort and confidence, around the clock, every day of the year.

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