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St Francis 30for30: ‘Thank you does not express our gratitude’

Anita Connolly works from under an umbrella following damage cause to the roof in a storm earlier this year (Picture: Saint Francis Hospice) Anita Connolly works from under an umbrella following damage cause to the roof in a storm earlier this year (Picture: Saint Francis Hospice)

Sunday, August 10, 2014
12:00 PM

Saint Francis Hospice’s most senior trustee has expressed his heartfelt thanks for support – including from the Recorder – which has helped the Havering-atte-Bower centre raise tens of thousands of pounds for vital structural work.

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Trustee chairman Dr Robert WeatherstoneTrustee chairman Dr Robert Weatherstone

Stormy weather earlier this year caused serious damage to its roof, prompting bosses to launch an emergency campaign to fix a situation that saw staff working under umbrellas and using buckets to catch water.

In March, the Recorder also began its own appeal to raise £30,000 to celebrate the hospice’s 30th anniversary this year.

“I don’t think we could have done it without you,” said trustee chair Dr Robert Weatherstone of a huge £180,000 raised since disaster struck in February.

He said the hospice, which relies on £7million in donations a year to keep going, would be using some of the cash to pay for the roof but bank the rest “in anticipation” of future structural issues.

Barking and Dagenham Post news editor Ramzy Alwakeel leapt out of plane for the hospiceBarking and Dagenham Post news editor Ramzy Alwakeel leapt out of plane for the hospice

The 68-year-old former GP, who has chaired the board of trustees since 2010, reserved special praise for all the donors who have helped the charity raise the phenomenal total.

“Thank you ... does not satisfactorily express the feeling that we have.

“We’re extremely grateful both for the money and for the support, that the public are aware of us and aware of our needs means a lot.”

He added: “[The papers] have always been very supportive not just in this but over the years – but particularly this year with it being our 30th anniversary.”

Two reporters flung themselves out of a plane as part of the Post’s fundraising campaign, which also saw the paper feature stories on the experiences of patients and their families, the ringing endorsements of celebrities and MPs, and all the ways the hospice provides support, not just for the terminally ill.

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