THE opening of the St David’s Hospice Care’s new £5m, 15-bed in-patient unit in Newport was one of the most amazing achievements in the charity’s 39 years, chief executive Emma Saysell told its annual meeting.

The multi-award winning in-patient hospice at Malpas, Newport, was opened by Health Secretary Vaughan Gething in June 2017, admitting its first patients in the spring of 2018.

Mrs Saysell, speaking to a room full of dignitaries, local politicians, civic heads, mayors, councillors, staff and supporters, said: “The opening of the new in-patient unit was the real highlight of the past year. Without doubt it was one of the most amazing achievements in the 39 year history of St David’s Hospice Care.

“The new in-patient hospice provides our patients with the best possible care and our fantastic staff with superb facilities in which to do their work.

"I am delighted to be able to say that since its opening we have received a number of prestigious awards including The National Eisteddfod Gold Medal for Architecture 2018.”

But, Mrs Saysell told the meeting that the creation of the in-patient unit ‘was nonetheless a very small part of all that we do throughout our community'.

She paid tribute to the army of 780 volunteers which help the charity provide its services.

Mrs Saysell said the charity and its services had become a benchmark of excellence with fellow hospice professionals from across the UK visiting to learn from the Newport-based charity

“We are very proud of what we do and the exceptional care we deliver. We constantly strive to be the very best at what we do.”

Mrs Saysell pointed to the number and variety of events staged by the charity, which together with other endeavours such as their 38 high street shops, need to strive hard to fill the 70 per cent of annual funding gap not covered by the NHS and the Aneurin Bevan Health Board. The charity needs £8m a year to fund its operations.

She said: “I really can’t over emphasise the tireless work that fund raisers do for us and the value of the work that they do for the charity. Fundraising, under Kris Broome, delivered almost £1.5m to the charity last year and our lottery delivered £200,000.

“We experienced a double blow last year with having to cancel our major fund raising event, the Admiral Half Marathon twice due to snow which blew a huge hole in our fund raising target for the year.

“Our high street shops are a vital part of our fund raising from the smallest in places like Magor or larger shops in Caldicot, to ones in Newport, Chepstow, Brecon, Pontypridd. Together they raise some £1m annually for the charity.”

St David’s Hospice Care chairman Malgwyn Davies said: “Emma has thanked everyone, staff and volunteers, for their hard work but there is one she hasn’t and that is herself which I will happily do now and recognise her continued and unstinting work that she has done for and behalf of St David’s Hospice Care over the past year.”

To date the St David’s Hospice Care IPU has won the following awards: The Royal Institute of Building Awards RIBA National Award 2018. The first Welsh building to get this level of award for some three years; The RSAW Welsh Architecture Award 2018. It was one of only three buildings in Wales to gain this award; The National Eisteddfod Gold Medal for Architecture 2018, known as best building in Wales award; a Civic Trust Commendation 2018; and Emma Saysell won the RSAW Client of the year award 2018.