Bethesda Hospice, which provides end-of-life care and support to island families, has received another £30,000 from community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust.
The money is the latest tranche of funding from the award-winning Point and Sandwick Trust, which owns and operates the Beinn Ghrideag wind farm for the sole purpose of generating profit to reinvest in the community of the Western Isles.
Point and Sandwick Trust has a 25-year commitment to support Bethesda and will be giving the hospice a total of £55,000 every single year for the lifetime of its turbines. The grant on Friday brings its support for Bethesda to £110,000 over the past two years.
The money is the biggest pledge that Bethesda has ever received and is the biggest grant given regularly by Point and Sandwick Trust – and the only one it has committed to for 25 years.
The financial support was pledged to Bethesda six years before the wind farm became a reality, with the signing of a memorandum. At the time the first cheque was handed over, in late 2016, the then PST chairman Angus McCormack (now honorary president) said: “Bethesda means so much to our community…. it has been uppermost in our minds since the earliest days of the project.”
His successor, chairman Norman Mackenzie, said it was a partnership to be proud of. “Bethesda provides a vital service to our local community. There is no better use of community money than palliative care, which is there for the whole community when they need it.”
Carol Somerville, Bethesda general manager, said the money from Point and Sandwick Trust was “a massive boost” – as it could be counted on at the start of every financial year, when they have to begin fundraising afresh.
Point and Sandwick Trust board member Rhoda Mackenzie said all organisations with funds available for community projects should “keep Bethesda uppermost” in their minds “when they are considering giving”, especially given the hospice’s difficulties with funding.
“It’s essential that other groups consider the unit foremost when they are deciding where to put the money and that they make a long-term commitment, like we have, so Bethesda can use that as part of their financial planning.
“We should be looking at more substantial sums over longer periods to ease the burden because fundraising shouldn’t be a worry to concentrate on when there is care to give.”
Rhoda stressed that Point and Sandwick Trust’s priority commitment to Bethesda had been a directive from the community itself, in the early days of public consultation about what causes people wanted to see supported with the money that would come from Beinn Ghrideag.
“It’s something that came top in the whole community of the things they wanted us to support. On a personal level, I’ve had experience of Bethesda with family members and it’s absolutely essential that the facility is here for the community and that it’s maintained by the community.”
Rhoda stressed the care Bethesda provided for whole families as well as patients, adding: “It’s a lucky person that won’t need it but unfortunately many of us do and have benefited from it. For people that have used it, they could never repay the service that they get from Bethesda.”
Carol said this kind of holistic care was crucial. “We’re like a family. So when somebody comes in, we draw them in and look after them like we’d look after our own.”
Bethesda “know we have stability” from Point and Sandwick Trust, said Carol, but similar long-term commitments from other partners would give Bethesda “the stability and sustainability that we need”. That would mean staff being able to spend less time on fundraising and more time on that holistic care.
“If there is stability and sustainability, it means we can spend time with patients and families and talk to them. That’s one of the most important parts of my job.”
Picture by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos. From left to right: Norman Mackenzie, Point and Sandwick Trust chairman; Christina Smith, Point and Sandwick Trust office manager; Carol Somerville, Bethesda general manager; Rhoda Mackenzie, Point and Sandwick Trust board member; Murdo MacLennan, Bethesda vice-chairman; Natalie Keiller, Bethesda finance development officer; and Calum MacDonald, Beinn Ghrideag wind farm developer.