WOKING Hospice is marking its 25th anniversary by holding a year of fundraising events and thanking local people, businesses and the council for their support over the past quarter century.

Tribute has also been paid to Rhod Lofting, the former Mayor of Woking, who founded the hospice after his own family’s experience.

The first hospice building opened in December 1996 in Hill View Road after five years of fundraising that began when Rhod was mayor.

Marian Imrie, CEO of Woking & Sam Beare Hospice and Wellbeing Care, said: “It was because of the backing of organisations like Woking Borough Council, local businesses and the generosity of the community that we are now able to reach a very significant milestone.

“But one exceptional man, our founder and life president Rhod Lofting, along with his wife Elizabeth, was the driving force with the vision to prevent anyone else from experiencing what he did when his own father required end-of-life care.”

Rhod said: “During the 1970s, my dad, who was in his early sixties, had cancer. His diagnosis was late, his care was indifferent and involved constant travelling to and from Kingston Hospital.

“I thought there must be somewhere closer and a better way. Later, as a councillor, I was determined to achieve greater care for families faced with similar needs.”

When Rhod became mayor, he launched an appeal to build a 10-bed hospice in Woking, setting a target of £1.4 million to cover the building and first year of running costs.

In 1992, the hospice opened its first charity shops in Woking, West Byfleet and Chobham to help fundraise.

The hospice had the support of the Sam Beare unit of Weybridge Hospital, later taking over management and merging services.

In 2017, a new Woking Hospice in Goldsworth Park replaced the Hill View Road and Sam Beare services with 20 beds, some accommodation for families, a multi-faith chapel and other facilities.

The hospice also has a home care team, which delivers 80 per cent of its care to patients in their own homes.

The charity relies on fundraising from its 18 shops, donations and mass events, all of which were severely affected by the pandemic restrictions over the past two years. The hospice is hoping to have a full year of fundraising events to mark its anniversary.

“The hospice has evolved over the years but our 25th anniversary is not just a time to reflect on the past but also a time to recognise how far we have come,” said Marian.

“The hospice is now a vital part of the local healthcare economy, and our relevance and role has never been so important.”

How YOU can make a difference

Every £89 raised covers the cost of one visit from the community team to one of the 2,000 patients the hospice cares for over the course of a year. Get involved with forthcoming fundraising events and help support the hospice.

Virtual Easter Fun Run, 15-18 April 2022

Hop, skip, walk, run or even jump your way into Easter 2022. Registration is only £6 per participant or £20 for a group of four.

Dragon Boat Race & Family Fun Day, 15 May 2022

Registration is open! Don’t miss out on this fabulous event which takes place on Goldsworth Park Lake. Dragon Boat Races and Family Fun Day 2022 is sponsored by Trident Honda

For up-to-date information on all events visit www.wsbhospices.co.uk/events

For more on this story, and more pictures, see the 10 February edition of the News & Mail, in shops today