Prospect Hospice Swindon

Prospect Hospice Swindon

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.

Paul Martin Hosting Highworth Event

Paul Martin Hosting Highworth Event

19th April 2025

FLOG IT! PRESENTER PAUL MARTIN TO HOST VALUATION DAY IN HIGHWORTH

Paul Martin Hosting Highworth Event. It’s time to get rooting around in the loft. Why? Well. Well known popular TV antique expert, Paul Martin, will be sharing his knowledge and experience with Highworth residents on Wednesday 1st May. On that day he’ll be hosting a free community valuation day at the Saracen’s Head Hotel in the Market Place.

The valuation day is being run in partnership with world renowned Devizes auctioneers Henry Aldridge & Son, for whom Paul is Head of Valuations. It’ll take place 10am-3pm with the intention of encouraging members of the public to dust off those items they’ve always been curious about. And to bring them along for discussion, valuation and even selling. Who knows?

Paul Martin Hosting Highworth Event -
Paul Martin Hosting Highworth Event

What will emerge?

Paul’s excited to see items ranging from antiques, collectables, silver, gold, militaria and jewellery.

‘The day in Highworth is going to be so interesting,’ said Paul. ‘The combination of:

  • Its position as an ancient market town
  • Its significance in the Civil War
  • And its relationship to 19th century industrial Britain
  • Then, later, World War Two, means … there’s likely to be all sorts of fascinating tales for the telling.

I’m very much looking forward to the community valuation day in Highworth. And I can’t wait to see what people choose to bring along.’

Paul has been a TV presenter and expert for over twenty years on programmes including:

  • The Antiques’ Road Trip
  • Flog it!
  • Countryfile and many more.

He has a new series, the Great Auction Show Down with Paul Martin going live in Channel 5 in May.

An antiques man at heart

‘Even though I am a TV presenter and still enjoy my broadcast career, I’m an antiques man at heart. And these events allow me to get back to what drives me — the people, their objects and the stories they tell.’

The day is part of a programme of valuation days that Paul is running in his role as Head of Valuations at Henry Aldridge & Son, based in Devizes.

Wiltshire is such a great part of the country for hosting these kinds of days,’ said Paul. “There’s so much history here and the people are so generous with their time and curiosity. So I’m sure we’ll see some fascinating items and learn lots from the stories attached to them.’

Highworth

Highworth appears in the Domesday survey of 1086 and has been the site of a continuous settlement for more than 4000 years.

The town was first granted the right to hold the weekly market that still takes places today in 1206, by King John. And, during the Civil War (1642-1651), Highworth was a Cavalier stronghold. At least until the summer of 1645 when Parliamentarians garrisoned it for the following twelve months.

During the 20th century, activities in Highworth took a much more secretive turn. The local Post Office mistress became a key player in the British resistance movement of World War Two.

After France fell in 1940, there was a very real suspicion and fear that Britain would suffer invasion. In particular after the Channel Islands had become occupied in July. Churchill established an auxiliary unit tasked with disrupting activities behind enemy lines. All with a view to delaying German progress until Britain could mobilise more forces. It was pivotal but very dangerous work. Those who volunteered had an average subsequent life expectancy of fourteen days.

The training camp for this unit was established just outside Highworth. And the local Post Office mistress, Mabel Stranks, became another layer of national protection. She became the officer to whom men in the unit reported before entry into the training camp. Mabel was so strict with her checks that she is even said to have made Field Marshall Montgomery wait for an extended period in his car while she checked the relevant paperwork and made phone calls.

In total, Mabel vetted more than 3,000 volunteers. She would have been an important ‘catch’ on the so-called Nazi ‘black list’ had they been successful in invading the UK.

After France fell in 1940, there was a very real suspicion and fear that Britain would suffer invasion. In particular after the Channel Islands had become occupied in July. Churchill established an auxiliary unit tasked with disrupting activities behind enemy lines. All with a view to delaying German progress until Britain could mobilise more forces. It was pivotal but very dangerous work. Those who volunteered had an average subsequent life expectancy of fourteen days.

The training camp for this unit was established just outside Highworth. And the local Post Office mistress, Mabel Stranks, became another layer of national protection. She became the officer to whom men in the unit reported before entry into the training camp. Mabel was so strict with her checks that she is even said to have made Field Marshall Montgomery wait for an extended period in his car while she checked the relevant paperwork and made phone calls.

In total, Mabel vetted more than 3,000 volunteers. She would have been an important ‘catch’ on the so-called Nazi ‘black list’ had they been successful in invading the UK.

See also: https://swindonian.wordpress.com/tag/mabel-stranks/

Mabel Stranks plaque in Highworth
Mabel Stranks plaque in Highworth

Location, location, location

The site of Paul Martin’s valuation day is the Saracen’s Head. The beautiful hotel, located in Highworth’s Market Place, is also a key part of local history, having welcomed people through its doors since 1825.

This event in Highworth is part of a set of community valuation days Paul Martin is holding in Wiltshire and Somerset in April and May. For more information please visit: https://www.henryaldridge.com/valuations/valuation-days/south-west/

Marketing Expert Supports Swindon Charity

Marketing Expert Supports Swindon Charity

18th April 2024

Marketing Expert Supports Swindon Charity.
Digital marketing specialist Rob Curtis, is lacing up his running shoes. His purpose? To support Swindon-based charity Best Mates.

Rob founded The Pursuit Agency almost two years ago. It’s a digital marketing agency aimed at enhancing businesses’ online presence and promoting growth. Yet many people who know Rob knows that he loves his sport, including football and running.

With this in mind, he was clear that The Pursuit Agency’s mission is not only to assist businesses in developing their digital identity but also to give back to the community through charitable giving. As part of this pledge, Rob has signed up to run the Bournemouth Half Marathon in October to raise funds for Best Mates.

Marketing Expert Supports Swindon Charity - Rob Curtis of the Pursuit Agency running a marathon
Marketing Expert Supports Swindon Charity – Rob Curtis of the Pursuit Agency running a marathon

Rob said: ‘I’ve have been on a journey, from being a young dad to starting my business. My wife, family, and friends have always supported me through the highs and lows. And there have been some lows.

About Best Mates

‘Best Mates and its work resonates deeply with me, and I am honoured to contribute to such a worthy cause. With the support of partners, clients, and friends, my team and I aim to raise £3,000 for Best Mates by the end of the year.’ The charity dedicates itself to providing support to individuals facing challenging circumstances. It connects them with empathetic peers who have undergone similar experiences.

Through its matching process, the organisation ensures individuals receive compassionate support from someone who understands their situation first-hand. In other words: a ‘Best Mate’.

Additionally, Best Mates offer practical help and access to essential services, such as counselling and financial support. All to ease the burdens faced by those in distress.

‘Massive applause to Rob from everyone at our charity Best Mates. His dedication in support of our cause is much appreciated. We extend our heartfelt thanks for being an outstanding advocate and having such a positive effect on the lives of others. We’re rooting for him every step of the journey’ said co-founder Jeff Tucker.

Anyone who wishes to support Rob can donate via this link https://www.justgiving.com/page/pursuitwithbestmates/

To find out more about the charity visit https://bestmates.org



The Best Mates charity logo
Best Mates how it all began
Samantha Jayne Hosting Mediumship Event

Samantha Jayne Hosting Mediumship Event

17th April 2024

SPIRITUAL ENTREPRENEUR TO HOST MEDIUMSHIP EVENING AT PICTURESQUE WILTSHIRE GOLF CLUB

Samantha Jayne Hosting Mediumship Event next month – May 2024.

Spiritual business coach and psychic medium Samantha Jayne will be leading a mediumship evening next month. The event will take place at the scenic Ogbourne Downs Golf Club in Marlborough.

Set against the backdrop of the picturesque Ogbourne Downs, the clubhouse will transform into a space for guests to experience an evening of spiritual exploration and connection.

Samantha Jayne is an acclaimed, qualified, award-winning coach. She’s been helping people create the success they desire for the last twenty years. Living in Royal Wootton Bassett, she’s also a speaker, published author and spiritual healer.

With capacity capped at 100 attendees, Samantha Jayne aims to create an intimate experience for each guest. She wants to foster a space where attendees can forge connections with the spirit world. And do it with clarity and compassion.

Samantha Jayne Hosting Mediumship Event
Samantha Jayne Hosting Mediumship Event


‘I’m honoured that the team at Marlborough golf club have asked me to run this event. I hope guests will find it informative and inspiring,’ said Samantha.

Levana Plummer, Ogbourne Downs clubhouse manager, expressed her excitement for the event:

While this is a unique event for us, Samantha’s reputation precedes her. And we look forward to going on a meaningful journey with messages sent with love from beyond.’

A special offer

In celebration of this occasion, Ogbourne Downs Golf Club is extending a special offer to guests. For every table of ten people booked during April, attendees will receive two complimentary bottles of Prosecco. Thus adding an extra touch of sparkle to the evening’s festivities.

The event takes place on Thursday 2nd May at Ogbourne Downs Golf Club. Doors will open at 7:00 PM.

You can go direct to the clubhouse for tickets. Or via he convenient Eventbrite link at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mediumship-evening-tickets-863221116597

Bungee-jump Survivor Guinness Record Attempt

Bungee-jump Survivor Guinness Record Attempt

10 April 2024

Mike Land, Bungee-jump survivor puts fitness to the test ahead of Guinness World Record attempt. A branding expert, who cheated death when his bungee snapped during a jump hopes to break the Guinness World Record for pulling a van. But first he’s staging a practice session and inviting people to come and cheer him on.

Mike from Swindon, who runs Nickel Design, aims to pull a 1.5 tonne van as far as possible in 24 hours. He wants to beat the current record of thirty-two miles (51.5km). It’s all in aid of Wiltshire Air Ambulance, and Mike hopes to raise £12,000. That’s the amount it costs every day to run the lifesaving service.

Bungee-jump Survivor Guinness Record Attempt - Mike Land and Wilts air ambulance team
Bungee-jump Survivor Guinness Record Attempt – Mike Land and Wilts air ambulance team

For my next trick

This is the latest fundraiser by Mike. He raises money for several health-related causes, all inspired by a near-death-experience, when his rope snapped during a bungee jump.

Doctors feared Mike would never make a full recovery. But luckily the medics were wrong. And Mike has spent the thirty years since the accident pushing himself to the limit. He does it with ever-daring feats, including abseiling down Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower.

The date for the official record has yet to be set. But Mike is staging a practice pull on May 9, at Cotswold Airport, near Cirencester, and inviting sponsors and the public to come and cheer him on. They can even have a go themselves.

‘The support has been fabulous, from everyone in my networking circle to Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce. They’ve liked and shared my social media, handed out my leaflets and allowed me to share my story and challenge,’ said Mike.

This has taken my initial £1,500 pledge to a whopping £12,000. And with everyone’s help and support, I’m confident that I can reach this target.’

Mike’s world record attempt was at first planned to happen in 2023, at Cotswold Airport.

But the venue didn’t meet Guiness’s strict criteria for ground levels. Now, it’s relocated to RAF Locking, near Weston-Super-Mare. As it happens that’s the last place that Mike’s dad, who was in the RAF, was stationed. The date for the attempt is likely to be in August.

Sponsorship still sought

Mike is still looking for donations and for businesses who’d like to sponsor him and have their logo on the Fiat Doblo. That’s been generously loaned by Scarrotts Van & Minibus Centre, in Royal Wootton Bassett.

‘I couldn’t do any of this without the support and services of:

  • The team
  • Cotswold Airport
  • Scarrotts Van & Minibus Centre
  • Aura Signs
  • Howdens
  • Trakm8
  • Secure Safety Solutions and Bernard Geomatics.’

To sponsor Mike visit https://www.givengain.com/ap/mike-land-raising-funds-for-wiltshire-air-ambulance.

Bungee-jump Survivor Guinness Record Attempt - MIke Land pulling fiat van
Bungee-jump Survivor Guinness Record Attempt – MIke Land pulling Fiat van