Page last updated at 11:55 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 12:55 UK

Nurse makes major hospice bequest

Palliative care
The money could be used to create a first hospice in the Scottish Borders

A retired nurse has left more than £500,000 in her will for the creation of the first hospice in the Borders.

Margaret Kerr, 83, from West Linton, died in March and wanted the bulk of her estate to pass to a charitable trust for hospices in Scotland.

She stipulated that any project must have the support of the medical and nursing community in the Borders.

Palliative care for the terminally ill in the region is currently provided at Borders General Hospital near Melrose.

The former nurse's lawyer, Douglas Connell of Turcan Connell in Edinburgh, said the funds reflected her lifelong passion.

We believe there is a great need for a hospice or palliative care facility and this bequest is a huge opportunity to move forward and start this much-needed and exciting development
Audrey Finney
Callum's Trust

"Nursing was Miss Kerr's life," he said.

"She was particularly keen to see some form of hospice development in the Scottish Borders and she hoped the availability of a significant sum might act as a catalyst for its creation.

"A sum in excess of £500,000 could be made available if a suitable project was to emerge which had the support of the medical and nursing community in the Borders."

The daughter of a Church of Scotland minister, Miss Kerr volunteered as a Royal Navy nurse and became a ward sister in Edinburgh, going on to receive an MBE.

One palliative care trust in the Borders welcomed the bequest and said it would work with the region's health authority in helping to deliver a hospice.

Audrey Finney, whose husband Callum died at their home in Galashiels from Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, formed Callum's Trust to ease the end-of-life experiences of the terminally-ill.

She said: "We believe there is a great need for a hospice or palliative care facility and this bequest is a huge opportunity to move forward and start this much-needed and exciting development."

NHS Borders has not indicated whether it would support the move.

In a statement it said: "The board recently agreed to a feasibility study being carried out to consider options for improving the environment for patients requiring specialist palliative care at the Borders General Hospital.

"The study is chiefly examining the scope for fundraising initiatives to support such improvements.

"We are currently at the very early stages of this work and no decision has yet been made as to the nature of the developments of this service."



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