Celebrities back fund to make patients’ dreams come true

Weston Hospicecare’s Dr Helen Horgan with Katrina Rutter and Nigel Dando at the launch of the hospic

Weston Hospicecare’s Dr Helen Horgan with Katrina Rutter and Nigel Dando at the launch of the hospice’s Jill Dando Fund. - Credit: Archant

Sir Cliff Richard and Jeffrey Archer are backing a new fund to help patients’ last minute dreams come true at Weston Hospicecare.

The charity, in Uphill, is launching the Jill Dando Fund which will enable money to be set aside to grant final wishes for patients.

It has been named in memory of the charity's former patron and is supported by Jill's brother Nigel Dando and her celebrity friends including Lord Archer and Sir Cliff.

The fund has been inspired by Claire Rutter and Rob Cope, who were married at the hospice last year after friends, businesses and members of the community helped to organise a fairytale wedding within days.

Claire's mum Katrina said: "This fund is for people like Claire. She really wanted this fairytale wedding; it was everything to her.

"I was worried we wouldn't be able to get the money together, but everybody helped, we had a lot of support from the hospice, and about a week in, I then thought yes, we can do this.

"With help from businesses, friends and family, we were able to give her the wedding she always wanted.

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"It was about giving Claire what she wanted and that's what this fund can do for other people."

Sir Cliff has backed the appeal, as a long-term friend of Jill's.

Before she died, Jill and the Mercury's then-editor Judi Driscoll - the hospice's current chair of trustees - had agreed to jointly launch the consultant appeal.

More: Mercury staff past and present pay tribute to Jill Dando.

Sir Cliff performed at a star-studded fundraiser in Weston in 2000 in Jill's memory, which raised £65,000 to fund a consultant for the hospice.

He said: "I enjoyed coming to Weston and helping the hospice raise the funds to achieve Jill's desire to provide the hospice with its own palliative care consultant.

"It's now 20 years on - and I believe the hospice is celebrating its 30th birthday - so it is a great idea to launch a Jill Dando Fund for this purpose.

"Jill was a caring, compassionate person and it will be good for her spirit to live on at the hospice in this way."

Nigel Dando immediately agreed the fund could be named after Jill. He said: "I think she would have been delighted that such a heart-warming appeal should bear her name in this way

"The fund is a brilliant idea and one that I'm sure will be supported by well-wishers from Weston and beyond."