Actress Elaine C Smith is backing a multi-million-pound fundraising campaign to refurbish a long-established community hospice that cared for her late father.
The well-known star of sitcoms Rab C Nesbitt and Two Doors Down is helping St Andrew’s to raise the £9 million needed to pay for a major transformation to ensure the hospice is fit for the future.
The charity-run facility in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, has offered specialist palliative care for thousands of Scots with life-limiting conditions since opening in 1986.
St Andrew’s must raise a minimum of £88,000 per week to maintain its current level of operations, but it has now launched a separate capital fund to pay for its ambitious refurbishment plans.
Artists’ impressions of the new centre - first published by The Scotsman - reveal how patients will be able to access its gardens directly from their rooms, as well as offering improved facilities for visitors.
It is hoped the work will be completed by 2019.
Smith, 57, was born in nearby Newarthill and is a long-term supporter of St Andrew’s. Her father Jim was cared for at the hospice before his death in January 2012 aged 83.
“I am honoured and proud to support the hospice, especially during a crucial time in its fundraising history,” she told The Scotsman.
“Not only is it a local charity to the town where I was born and brought up, but it is very close to my family’s heart. The hospice provided wonderful, compassionate care for my father when he was ill as well as other members of my family and friends.
“Over the next three years until 2019, the hospice needs to raise a huge amount of money and it will take the support of the community and beyond to make the hospice the best it can be for our loved ones who may need it, their family, friends and the staff who will look after them.”
St Andrew’s was founded by the Religious Sisters of Charity, a Catholic institute established in 1815 by Mary Aikenhead in Ireland, but the hospice is open to all patients “without distinction of race, gender, or creed”.
The Sisters first opened a nursing home in Airdrie in 1957, but by the early 1980s the charity was working with the NHS and local authorities on plans for a purpose-built facility better suited for the needs of patients nearing the end of their lives.
St Andrew’s opened in 1986 on the site of a former school in the town’s Henderson Street and has since become a well-known and respected charity to thousands of families from across North Lanarkshire and beyond.
Its refurbishment will enable the hospice to offer more single-bed rooms to improve privacy for patients as well as offering improved access to the gardens.
Each year the hospice sees around 400 admissions to its inpatient unit, treats more than 200 outpatients, offers bereavement counselling for over 200 people and supports more than 40 children and their families affected by the loss of loved one.
Karen McFadyen, director of the St Andrew’s capital appeal, said: “We’re in the infancy of a three-year-long appeal and we need the support of the community more than ever. This year, the hospice celebrated a huge milestone; 30 years of providing specialist palliative care to patients and families from across Lanarkshire. “We have a big task ahead, but raising the money will be crucial to ensure the hospice can continue to serve the people in Lanarkshire for another 30 years and beyond. Our vision is to make the hospice the best it can be for our patients and their loved ones, and to continue to offer compassionate services within a caring environment.
“As well as engaging individuals and the community, we’re looking to local and larger businesses to get on board and help us during our capital appeal. Lanarkshire is bursting with innovative and exciting businesses, and we are urging them to get involved to help us out.”
Smith is encouraging fellow supporters of St Andrew’s to organise pearl tea parties - named in honour of the hospice’s 30th anniversary.
“What could be easier than getting together with friends and family, eating cake and drinking tea all for a fantastic cause?” she said.
“We need to support our hospice to allow it to be the best it can be for the future.”