Rotary are delighted to be able to support the development of the Great Oaks Hospice in Coleford with a gift of £8655 for the expansion of their parking facilities. John Freeman, chair of the Rotary Community Committee, presented the cheque to Ruth Keeble, Executive Manager of Great Oaks, on 10 May 2019. Also shown are Ruth and John, together with Rotarians Doc Lewis, Clive Bath, and Malcolm Paterson who were active in helping the Hospice to become a practical reality.
The association of the Rotary Club of the Royal Forest of Dean with Great Oaks is long-standing. From the mid 1990s, Rotarians, led by Philip Macfarlane, were keenly aware that the Forest had no hospice, with the inevitable result that Forest people were often forced to spend their last days in distant hospitals even when they wanted to be closer to home. The Club resolved to support an existing initiative to create a hospice in the Forest.
Sadly, Phil Macfarlane died suddenly last December, and this donation is an opportunity for the Club to remember his life and contribution.
The Rotary Club became more deeply involved as a general wish evolved into practical proposals. Rotarians, including Philip Macfarlane, Dr. Arthur Hooper, Doc Lewis, Clive Bath, Malcolm Paterson, and many more, worked to research the needs, the possible alternatives, possible premises, and the necessary funding in cooperation with the relevant local-government and NHS bodies.
A day hospice for the Forest was found to be more practical than a bedded unit. An interim arrangement was set up in the Dilke Hospital and valuable experience gained.
With a clear sense of direction, the project for the new hospice was launched to the public on 1 March 1999 at Speech House, with Sheila Evans chairing the steering committee. Now, with fund-raising under way, more practical help was needed. Rtn. Doc Lewis sought legal advice on the constitution of the hospice, Rtn. Clive Bath found and secured a suitable plot of land in Coleford; Rtn. Harry Kear located its first charity shop, Rtn. Malcolm Paterson coordinated fund raising. The Rotary club organised meetings in local schools to raise awareness of the project and Rtn. Phil Macfarlane organised a competition throughout the schools to choose a name and logo for the new Hospice.
In September 2004, Great Oaks Hospice moved into its new purpose-built facilities in Coleford where they have gone from strength to strength, and we warmly congratulate Sheila Evans on her remarkable leadership. Rtn. Malcolm Paterson continues to serve as a director and trustee of the Great Oaks Hospice.