Hospice gets final push over the line
Minister Harris pledges final €1m needed
The official turning of the sod for the planned Hospice in Magheramore is expected to take place this year after the Health Minister pledged €1 million towards its development.
Minister Simon Harris, made the surprise announcement at Friday's Gala fundraiser, organised by the elected members of Wicklow County Council.
'This is a real breakthrough. We would be hoping to start breaking ground some time this year and within two years from now we envisage patients being treated in the hospice,' said Sean Dorgan, Chairman of the Wicklow Hospice Foundation yesterday (Tuesday).
In October of last year the foundation was informed that they needed to raise another €1 million before work on the 15-bed facility could start, despite having at that stage already raised €3.3 million.
Government changes on capital funding meant the foundation had to provide more than half the capital costs first required.
However, the HSE commitment to provide an additional €1 million means the hospice appears to be nearing the finishing line.
'So far we raised €3.5 million, which leaves us with €4.5 million when combined with the contribution from the HSE. The cost of constructing the hospice will be in the region of €7.5 million.
'Now we just need some bank approval for a loan, which we have a good deal of confidence of securing. There will still be a gap remaining but we will fill that while the build is taking place,' added Mr Dorgan.
The facility will also be the hub of palliative care services for the county, which will go on to cover seven day care spots rather that than the current five.
Mr Dorgan also thanked the people of Wicklow for their ongoing support since the foundation was established.
'People have been brilliant for the past eight years and have shown great patience. The number of events organised each month to help raise funds has been amazing.
'Friday's announcement was a great reward for all their efforts. There is no doubt we wouldn't be at this stage now if it wasn't for the backing we received from the public.'
Minister Harris, while making the funding announcement, also stated that the hospice should be completed in 2019.
The HSE will pay the annual running costs of the hospice.
He said: 'The Wicklow Hospice Foundation along with the many, many volunteers around the county, have worked extraordinarily hard to get Wicklow Hospice to this point.
'Over €3.5 million has been raised by the people of Wicklow and the whole county is behind it. This confirmation of an additional million will now allow this project to move toward forward and start building.
'After many years of work, plans for the build are now at an advanced stage. The site for the hospice at Magheramore has been donated by the Columban Sisters and full planning permission has been received.
'The Department of Health/HSE will meet the annual running costs of €3 million. This €1 million will allow the Wicklow Hospice Foundation to move forward with the build.
'I want to take this opportunity to commend and thank everyone involved in fundraising for the Wicklow Hospice.
'I am delighted to be in a position to deliver good news,' said Minister Harris.
The funding announcement wasn't the only surprise on Friday night at the gala fundraiser in the Parkview Hotel, Newtownmountkennedy.
Hozier also turned up on the night with his trusty guitar and proceeded to play some of his best known songs, including 'Take me to the Church.'
The fundraiser was organised by county councillors, with each of the five municipal districts of Bray, Arklow, Greystones, Wicklow and Baltinglass contributed €10,000 each from Municipal District Funds in aid of project.
Another €35,000 was also raised on the night and through ticket sales, meaning €85,000 was overall raised through the event.
'The dinner was a great success and it must have taken a lot of organising.
'I would like to thank all the councillors involved, who were all unanimous in their support of Wicklow Hospice,' said Mr Dorgan.