IT WAS moving, inspirational and memorable – and more than 700 people were present at a milestone event in the history of a Basingstoke hospice.

Winchester Cathedral was the grand setting for last Friday night’s St Michael’s Hospice 20th Anniversary Celebration.

The event, which was attended by hospice staff, volunteers and members of families whose lives have been touched by the hospice, was very much a celebration of the organisation’s 20 years of providing quality care to patients and families in north Hampshire.

The congregation heard how the hospice – which needs to raise £3.3million each year to keep all its services operating, and has to generate more than 80 per cent of its funding through fundraising activities such as events, retail, gift in wills and donations – provides care for people with life-limiting illnesses within the hospice, near Basingstoke hospital, and also out in the community in patients’ homes.

During the service, which was attended by Hampshire Lord Lieutenant Dame Mary Fagan, there was music provided by the splendid Basing-stoke Hospital Male Voice Choir, under the leadership of musical director Dai Ogborn. There were contributions by several speakers including Anthony Holden, chairman of St Michael’s Hospice, and Bishop John Dennis, who was standing in for the Bishop of Basingstoke, The Right Reverend Peter Hancock, who had been unfortunately called away on urgent diocesan business.

Moving addresses were made by Kate Wells, a nurse at the hospice, who gave an insight into her work, and also by Ian Lansley-Neale, who told the congregation how the hospice had touched his life and those of people he knew. He principally talked about the vital care and support that was given to him and his partner Michael Lansley-Neale.

Mr Lansley-Neale OBE fought a brave and long-term battle with cancer after being diagnosed in 2003. He died, aged 85, in August this year at the couple’s home in Herriard, and Ian described how the support of hospice staff meant that his partner was able to be at home, as he wanted to be, when he passed away.

David Monkman, chief executive of the hospice, said: “I am thrilled that over 700 people joined us to celebrate the contribution to the people of Basingstoke and north Hampshire of St Michael’s Hospice during the past 20 years.

“In the coming years, we will continue to rely on the local community to fund the many services offered at St Michael’s. With a changing demographic, and advances in medicine, people are living longer whilst battling life-limiting illness, further increasing demand for hospice services.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to make St Michael’s what it is today. Whether you fundraise, volunteer, or simply donate at a collection, you are making a tangible difference to the care received by local patients and families.”