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Sisters Memory Is Motivation
The Rutherglen man who has taken over as chief executive of Kilbryde Hospice says the memory of his sister motivates him to do the job.
Gordon McHugh has just landed the role after spending years as vice-chairman of the charity.
A tireless fundraiser, he and his family have raised over £100,000 in tribute to their sister, Margaret Miller, who lost her battle with breast cancer in June 2007 at the age of 43.
Gordon revealed the memory of Margaret’s last days, as well as those of his mother-in-law, have spurred him on to make sure Kilbryde delivers the best care possible to the people of South Lanarkshire.
He said: “My passion is to make sure everyone gets the right support. My sister was fully supported by her family but not everyone has a family. There has been a high increase in one-parents families in South Lanarkshire, so where do they get the support from should they be affected by some sort of illness?
“My mother-in-law, at the end of her life, wasn’t getting the support required. Even having knowledge of hospices, we could not get the right support that would allow her to die with peace and dignity.
“Margaret was well supported, well looked after and I have always got to think, not everyone has access to that. Everyone should have access to the opportunity for palliative care.
“That will always be my aim. If it was not for Margaret going through that, I would not find myself here. It motivates me every single day.
“We’ll keep fundraising for her. We’re looking to do a sportsmans dinner and other activities in her name and memory, and that will continue for as long as I do.
“She was a very special lady, and I want to keep her warmth going for people who did not know her.”
Gordon takes over as chief executive at an exciting time for the Hospice, which cost £4million to build and was 13 years in the making while the cash was raised.
Based at Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride, it will be a haven for people suffering life-ending illnesses and their families. Day services are now up and running, with numbers increasing each week, and Gordon hopes to have the full, in-patient services operational by April next year.
Councillor Russell Clearie donated the very first bed to Kilbryde, with a further 11 coming from Commonwealth Games legacy funding, secured by Martin Kiely at WH Malcolm.
Gordon said: “The emphasis is on having the rooms up and running by the end of the next financial year.
“Day services are already running well up the stairs, and we’re just waiting on funding support to enhance this.
“In all honesty, I had a discussion with a woman the other day who actually said when she comes in it doesn’t feel like a hospital. It’s bringing smiles to people’s faces rather than the upset, which is the feeling they would normally get going into this type of environment. Everyone is delighted and happy, which is a great feeling.”
On a personal level, becoming chief executive is something Gordon describes as a “great honour.”
He added: “I don’t know if I took this role with my heart or my head. I certainly feel very proud that (hospice founder) Tony McGuinness put me into the role of director and always said I was the man who would take it forward.
“Little did I know I would be offered such a high level post to take the hospice forward in a new and exciting direction.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead and I appreciate everyone who has put money in, put time in and volunteered.
“Thanks also to ISS facility Management and Prospect Health Care, based in Hairmyers. They have been instrumental in supporting us on that side, both financially and in providing support.
“I really can’t thank everyone enough.”