The Ayrshire Hospice was established to enhance the quality of remaining life for those suffering from any life-limiting illness including cancer, neurological conditions, end stage heart failure and lung disease, as well as to support families and carers facing the loss of a loved one.

In the beginning

It was in 1983 when a group of hard working and committed citizens dedicated their time to form a Trust, with the goal of raising the necessary funds to open a hospice in Ayrshire. On 24 October 1983 the first public meeting took place where there was an overwhelming vote for the hospice fund to be established, with an initial fundraising target of £400,000 set.  Within an impressive 21 months this target had been reached and the next task was to find a suitable location for the hospice.

‘Gargowan’ at 35 Racecourse Road, Ayr, was identified after an exhaustive search throughout Ayrshire and building work began in 1987. At the same time, the hospice service was launched with the appointment of two home care nurses offering advice and support to community patients across Ayrshire. 

Landmark day

The Ayrshire Hospice dream finally became a reality on Wednesday 15 February 1989, when the doors were opened to the first patients. The hospice was officially opened in June of that year by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent.

Initially only seven beds were opened, quickly followed by another four but demand for the hospice services brought a decision to extend the building further. The hospice finally increased its in-patient beds to its current 20 in 2001.

Moving forward

A strategic review of hospice facilities and capabilities in relation to the consistent growth in referrals led to a commitment to further capital expansion. The purchase and development of the adjacent property at no. 37 Racecourse Road provided purpose built day services facilities, an Education Centre and accommodation for the Specialist Palliative Care Nursing Team.

As the hospice has grown it has become a vital part of palliative care in Ayrshire. Care is provided by highly trained hospice staff in a number of places including people’s own homes, hospitals and care homes as well as in the hospice’s purpose built day care centre and in-patient unit.  All services continue to be provided free of charge.

Vital support

Simply put, the Ayrshire Hospice wouldn’t be here today without the amazing and loyal support of the people of Ayrshire since the very early days. From fundraising by plunging into the cold sea during winter or plodding the starlit streets of Ayr, to volunteering valuable time and skills for a few hours a week, the unstinting commitment from the people of Ayrshire all contributes to ensuring the highest levels of specialist palliative and end of life care now, and for years to come.

Simply, our message to the wonderful people of Ayrshire is "thank you". We have been privileged to give thousands of patients and their families the care and support they need at what can be a very difficult time; vital care and support we simply couldn't have provided with you.