TODAY, to mark its 160th anniversary, the Swindon Advertiser is launching one of the most ambitious campaigns in its history to raise £160,000 by December in aid of Prospect Hospice – a charity which has touched the lives thousands of terminally-ill patients in their final moments.

Throughout the year along with activists, fundraisers and the support of the community the Adver will strive to collect the mammoth sum, desperately needed by the Wroughton charity which must secure £5.8million each year to continue caring for the people of Swindon and North Wiltshire.

The organisation, which was founded in 1980, receives less than 30 per cent of its income from statutory bodies such as the NHS to support a community of around 300,000 people – some living as far afield as Gloucestershire.

In 2012/13, its nurses and staff treated and supported 1,995 people not merely at the hospice itself but in their own homes, care homes and at the Great Western Hospital.

It may be a place patients with life-limiting illnesses choose to spend their last days, but for most of them it is a warm, caring haven with the promise of much-needed comfort and hope.

Although dedicated to the spiritual and emotional well-being as well as managing cancer sufferers’ physical pain, the region’s only hospice is there as much to support them and their families through the most gruelling time in their lives.

Families and carers can attend therapy groups at the day hospice and receive counselling through the most traumatic of times and during the aftermath, when a loved one has passed away. The target of £160,000 would help to pay for approximately 500 overnight stays in the hospice’s in-patient unit; that is 12 days at a time for 43 patients.

The sum would cover 6,400 hours of support of the 24-hour Prospect@Home service.

It would also fund counselling and support for 2,000 family members after the loss of a loved one or during their ongoing illness.

Staff nurse in the in-patient unit, Carol Ratcliffe, described Prospect as a family – a safe, peaceful and joyful ‘home’ not only for patients but staff.

“We don’t just care for patients – their families are as important,“ she said.

“We are all one big team as staff and with the family. Coming to the hospice, you hear laughter. It’s very relaxed.

“You don’t feel as if you’re in an institution; this is much more homely than a hospital. It is such an amazing place and service.”

Adver editor Gary Lawrence is encouraging people across Swindon and beyond to lend financial support to the campaign.

“When we first talked about how we would mark the Adver’s 160th birthday, we decided to use our year of celebration to help the community,” he said.

“There are some amazing and deserving charities who do a huge amount for the people of Swindon but we thought the Prospect Hospice probably touches more lives than any other group.

“The Prospect steps in to help when families are undergoing the worst days of their lives and somehow manages to brighten them with its kindness and care. Just spend a few moments at the hospice in Wroughton and the atmosphere of positivity that greets you as you walk in gives an idea of the uplifting support it provides.

“Our appeal aims to raise £160,000 which will make a significant difference to many people who turn to the Prospect for help. But our appeal will also set to highlight all of the services it operates.

“It will highlight how the Prospect isn’t just somewhere for people to end their days with dignity and respect, it is a vibrant, caring organisation that reaches far out into the community with a vast array of support for those stricken with illness and the families and friends around them.”

He added: “It is no surprise that those families and friends are repaying that support long after they have lost their loved ones because of the value they place on the Prospect. We share that value, as we know our readers do.

“We are looking forward to a year of celebrating the Adver’s special place in the community by helping the Prospect and we know our fantastic readers will help us hit our target.”

Prospect chief executive Angela Jordan said the charity was honoured to play such a prominent role in the Adver’s anniversary celebration.

“I am delighted that the Swindon Advertiser has chosen to mark its 160th anniversary by calling on its readers to raise funds for Prospect Hospice through a special appeal,” she said.

“The Swindon Advertiser has been a true supporter of the work of its local hospice since the days when the then Prospect Foundation provided care for a handful of patients in their homes, then in dedicated beds at the Victoria Hospital, and ever since we moved to the purpose-built hospice in Wroughton in the nineties.

“The Swindon Advertiser has reported on our work throughout the years, and helped us to get our message out to the people of the local community, which has been an enormous help to our continuous drive to raise the money needed to deliver our care.

“I welcome this unique opportunity to remind the people of Swindon that we are here to serve them when they are in need of our care, and that it is largely through their generosity that we will have cared for more than 2,000 people this year.

“We will also be pleased to share with Swindon Advertiser readers some of the remarkable stories about day-to-day life at Prospect Hospice, and the people behind them.

“Thank you to the Swindon Advertiser and its readers for your generous support.”

How to get involved

  • By cheque: With the donation form in today's paper
  • By card: Online through the donate now button,
  • In cash: Prospect Hospice reception in Wroughton, Prospect Hospice retail shops or the Swindon Advertiser office
  • Prospect Hospice can also take card donations over the phone – contact the fundraising team on 01793 816161
  • Taking part in an event for Prospect? Why not donate through our appeal – let us know via email on or call us on 01793 501806.