Battle to save hospices from savage cuts

PUBLISHED: 11:38 10 March 2006 | UPDATED: 21:44 28 May 2010

A STORY of personal tragedy has been the impetus for grandmother Daphne Fuller, who, with her friend Sherlene Chaplin, has spent 17 years raising several thousand pounds for terminally-ill children at Milton Hospice. Daphne, 63, of The Elms, Chatteris, is

A STORY of personal tragedy has been the impetus for grandmother Daphne Fuller, who, with her friend Sherlene Chaplin, has spent 17 years raising several thousand pounds for terminally-ill children at Milton Hospice.Daphne, 63, of The Elms, Chatteris, is always positive, but behind her smile lies tangible grief as she has lost her grandmother, mother, father, brother and husband Alf to cancer.Alf's death last year, and Sherlene's mother's illness, has temporarily halted the duo's giant jumble sales at Chatteris' Working Men's Club which they have held, along with bingo sessions and Christmas fairs, helped by 25 volunteers.Chatteris' generosity is renowned, but now the town is being asked to join the fight to stop Milton Hospice and its sister hospices at Ipswich and Quidenham closing for three days a week, with 25 nurses and carers made redundant.Our sister newspaper the Ely Standard is challenging the situation in which Government funding provides only eight per cent of the funding for Milton Hospice receives, with the rest coming from public donations.The Standard is compiling a petition, demanding more Government funding, to be sent to Prime Minister Tony Blair and Health Minister Liam Byrne.A lottery grant of £640,000 a year, will expire this month and this, plus donations being diverted to the Asian tsunami, New Orleans' floods and terrorist victims means hospice cash is running out.Mrs Fuller said: "It was my mum who suggested we start helping the hospice when she was dying herself and saw a child in hospital with no hair. I intend to continue fund-raising for these children until the day I die."Milton's hospice manager, Chatteris father Carl Harris, of West Street, said: "We have already lost five members of our care team and probably another six will go over the next fortnight."The hospice will only be able to open from Thursdays to Sundays for respite care."The other days of the week (except school holidays,) will be earmarked for community care in family homes."This is simply madness. We have the capability of filling our 18 beds consistently. But, the simple truth is that until children's hospices secure substantial Government funding they will remain in this precarious predicament of uncertainty."The petition can be signed on line at www.Cambs24.co.uk or at the Ely Standard office at Market Street, Ely.If you are organising a fund-raising event for the hospice or wish to make a donation contact the Cambs Times newsroom on 01354 652621 or e-mail editor@cambs-times.co.uk

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