WINCHESTER Hospice has opened after a major fundraising effort by local people and is now caring for patients.

Until now people living in the city and surrounding areas have had to travel to Basingstoke, Andover and Southampton for hospice care.

But thanks to a fundraising mission, £4.4million has been raised to transform Burrell House, a former nurses’ home on the Royal Hampshire County Hospital site, into a hospice.

The Romsey Road build was approved in February 2019, with the ambition to create a much-needed 10-bed hospice and palliative care hub, providing specialist care for patients.

Dr Lara Alloway, consultant in palliative medicine and chief medical officer at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital in Winchester alongside the two hospitals in Basingstoke and Andover, said: “We know how important local hospice care is for people with life-limiting conditions, as well as for their loved ones. I am delighted we can now provide this care and support as close to home as possible for our patients.

“Winchester Hospice Fundraising Charity has raised more than £4.4million through donations to refurbish Burrell House at Royal Hampshire County Hospital into a 10-bed hospice for people in need of palliative and end-of-life care in and around Winchester.

“We are so grateful to everyone who has contributed to this incredible achievement – every penny raised helped us to open our doors and start accepting our first patients back in September.

“Of course, this is not the end of our fundraising journey, and we now move on to the next phase when the charity will continue to contribute to the funding needed to provide and deliver outstanding patient care. The ongoing support of our local community will be crucial to achieving this.”

One of those who fundraised for the hospice was Paula Stopinski who lost her mother, Mally, in October 2017, whose dying wish was to be cared for at home, but because there was not a hospice in the area which could provide at home care, she was admitted to The Countess of Brecknock, in Andover.

Since her fundraising mission began, Paula has swum the equivalent of the English Channel, abseiled the Spinnaker Tower and held coffee mornings. Her recent fundraiser was finishing the Great South Run. Paula, who has a fused ankle, was the last woman to cross the finish line, in a time of three hours and 10 minutes.

Paula said: “I think it is really easy for people not to think about the fact that we don’t have a hospice, it is not until you need it you realise. I felt so passionate about it that I pushed myself to the extreme.”

She added: “It is going to be absolutely amazing. I can’t believe this generation of people in Winchester have come together to build a legacy for the area, what an amazing gift to people.”

Paula, of Tuscan Walk, Chandler’s Ford, has raised nearly £6,000 towards the cost the hospice build and furnishing it.