Margaret Kerr wish comes true as £4.1M palliative care unit opens

Margaret Kerr Unit at the BGH open day. One of the bedrooms in the unit.
Margaret Kerr Unit at the BGH open day. One of the bedrooms in the unit.
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THE BORDERS’ first dedicated palliative care unit has opened its doors to its first patients.

The £4.1 million Margaret Kerr Unit at Borders General Hospital was opened this week after the final £1million was raised in a 16-month fundraising campaign.

Margaret Kerr Unit, Borders General Hospital. James Marjoribanks, chairman of The Margaret Kerr Unit Appeal, Samantha Dunlop, clinical nurse specialist in palliative care, Clare Oliver, fundraising manager of The Difference,  Dr. Annabel Howell, speciality doctor in palliative care and Nathan Lynn, snr. site manager.

Margaret Kerr Unit, Borders General Hospital. James Marjoribanks, chairman of The Margaret Kerr Unit Appeal, Samantha Dunlop, clinical nurse specialist in palliative care, Clare Oliver, fundraising manager of The Difference, Dr. Annabel Howell, speciality doctor in palliative care and Nathan Lynn, snr. site manager.

In total, more than 1,000 individual donations were received since the September 2011 launch of the Margaret Kerr Unit Appeal – named after the West Linton nurse who died four years ago and left a bequest of more than £500,000 for a dedicated facility to be built.

NHS Borders say the much-needed facility will improve the quality of life for terminally ill patients by providing more privacy, space and family time.

Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame welcomed the unit’s opening.

She said: “I have been very impressed with the fundraising efforts of all those involved in this project and wrote to the team in November congratulating them.

The Order of St.John handed over a cheque for the Margaret Kerr Unit for �26,500 which takes the appeal to over �900,00. From right, Clare Oliver, NHS Borders Funraising Manager, Sir Malcolm Ross, Prior to the Order of St. John, Reverend Bill Paterson, past chairman of the order and Alasdair Hutton, chairman of the order.

The Order of St.John handed over a cheque for the Margaret Kerr Unit for �26,500 which takes the appeal to over �900,00. From right, Clare Oliver, NHS Borders Funraising Manager, Sir Malcolm Ross, Prior to the Order of St. John, Reverend Bill Paterson, past chairman of the order and Alasdair Hutton, chairman of the order.

“A palliative care unit has long been needed in the Borders as it meets the needs of patients and families facing progressive illness and bereavement.

“As we know up until now it has been the case that patients have to stay in Edinburgh or further afield, which can add to the distress for them and their families.”

The £1million target was reached last month, three months ahead of schedule, with appeal chairman James Marjoribanks admitting he was overwhelmed with the public’s response.

He told TheSouthern last month: “The variety of events and activities that have taken place range from coffee mornings, to marathons, to open gardens - the list is endless.”

Artist John Berry with his artwork installation in the Margaret Kerr Unit at the Borders General Hospital.

Artist John Berry with his artwork installation in the Margaret Kerr Unit at the Borders General Hospital.

Mr Marjoribanks added: “Margaret Kerr had an idea when she left her legacy and we picked that up and ran with it.

“The fundraising team has worked very hard over the two years and people coming in today are seeing the fruits of those labours and the results of people’s efforts and generosity and seeing what has been done with that money.”

The unit includes eight large single rooms all with fold-down beds for relatives, as well as several large lounges and surrounding gardens.

It is estimated that around 200 people a year will use the facility.

Other significant financial backers were Macmillan Cancer Support (£750,000) and The Robertson Trust (£350,000).