It is with great sadness that staff at Keech Hospice Care learnt of the death of founder member, Bruce Skinner, aged 91. “Bruce was an instrumental member of the original team that made the hospice what it is today,” said Keech Hospice Care CEO, Liz Searle. “He contributed to an amazing legacy for our community.”
Along with his sister Zena Skinner, Bruce was closely involved in fundraising for the new hospice right from the start, in the late 1980s, when they were part of the original appeal committee. A well-known local businessman and long-standing Rotary Club member (he was Luton Rotary Club President from 1985-86), Bruce had a formidable list of contacts which helped him to be a fundraising powerhouse for the hospice; his childhood friend, Dr Wink White, described him as a ‘first port of call’. Bruce himself recalled: “If they wanted something I knew where to go to get it, or where to ask for it.” Bruce was responsible for finding the charity its first office, in Union Street, Luton, free of charge. When interviewed for ‘Tears and Laughter’, the book written in 2012 to celebrate 21 years of Keech Hospice Care, he remembered the early days, saying, “My role in the hospice was just about anything that wanted doing. I did a bit of do-it-yourself and anything they wanted doing, including help with raising funds…I was up there so often I was part of the furniture.”
Bruce can be credited with starting up some of the hospice’s biggest, most enduring fundraisers. He organised the first Charity Golf Day at Bedfordshire Golf Club in 1989, a fundraiser that became a regular Keech event for 20 years. Zena and he also started the annual summer fete at Barnfield in Luton, which became a firm favourite within the town and around the wider area. Together Bruce and Zena have, over 25 years of fundraising, contributed tens of thousands of pounds to Keech Hospice Care. Dr David Siegler, the hospice’s first chairman, summed up Bruce and Zena’s role as “unsung heroes” of voluntary support “in whose footsteps the many hundreds of volunteers followed”.
Bruce remained closely involved with our charity up to his death, his last event being the royal visit last year, when he was there to personally greet TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
“Keech Hospice Care owes Bruce an enormous debt of gratitude for all the time, involvement and devotion he has donated over several decades,” Liz added. “He will be much missed by everyone who knew him.”
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