Hospice coffers hit by a £500,000 hole

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A HOSPICE group that supports people with life threatening illnesses is not on course to hit its £4 million fundraising target.

Currently Iain Rennie Grove House Hospice Care is set to raise £3.5 million and will be asking members of the public to help bridge the half million pound gap.

In the next few weeks its supporters can expect to see appeal letters dropping through their letter boxes asking them to help pay for the increased number of nurses and upgrading of equipment.

This year there have been 13 per cent more patients, which has to be funded through the generosity of the community because Primary Care Trust funding has not risen in line with the demand.

The biggest effect on cash has come from a reduction in the number of legacies and income from events.

Spokesman Gemma Baxter said: “Against a backdrop of financial uncertainty, we are incredibly fortunate that more people than ever are supporting us.

“Nearly a third more people made a donation in the last financial year – but the average personal donation dropped by nearly 40 per cent.

“We’ve seen the same pattern in our sponsored events, where people would have sponsored £10 or £20, they now give £5.

“We think this is due in part to the economic climate but also down to the fact that more and more charities are hosting sponsored events and therefore requests for sponsorship are more frequent.”

Slow ticket sales forced the hospice group’s events team to postpone a magic night originally planned to take place at Whipsnade Zoo in two weeks’ time.

However, they are hoping that a new date for the event, on March 30 next year, will give them more time to market the fundraiser and avoid clashes with Christmas spending.

The financial pressures have encouraged the team to look at new ways of raising cash.

On Thursday actor Larry Lamb launched the Path Of Life at Grove House where people can have a brick engraved for a path running along the side of the hospice in St Albans.

Now the team wants to know about events people would like to attend and is asking them to call 01442 890222 with suggestions.