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Building Consent For Charity Hospital Arrives In Time For Blair’s Birthday

Birthdays without Blair Vining are bittersweet – but tomorrow marks an occasion his widow, Melissa Vining, reckons he would think is the best gift of all.

Building consent for the Southland Charity Hospital – the project spurred on by community support for the man who spent his final days before succumbing to bowel cancer fighting for fairer healthcare for all New Zealanders – has arrived just in time to mark what would have been Blair’s 41st birthday on Thursday 13 May.

New Zealander of the Year nominee Melissa, who has continued Blair’s legacy and is one of the key figures spearheading the charity hospital project, says the granting of building consent is an “epic” milestone in turning Blair’s dream into a reality.

“The last 18 months has been full of so many highs and so many lows, but being able to continue with Blair’s vision of ensuring equitable healthcare access for all people here in the southern region is so important to our entire family,” she says.

“Being able to move into the build phase of the project is just the best birthday gift we could give Blair. We wish we were able to mark important life milestones with him alongside us, and as anybody who has lost a loved one will know, sharing those special occasions with somebody missing is incredibly bittersweet. This is no exception. We wish he was here, but we know he would be so proud of everybody who has helped us get to this point.

“The sad reality is that, every day, people throughout Southland and Otago are being failed by our health system. I am so grateful to the many people who have been so generous, because without their support our community would continue to suffer,” she says.

The Southland Charity Hospital has already raised more than $2 million thanks to the generosity of the community. Campaigns such as the wildly successful ‘Buy A Brick’ effort – still just shy of its 10,000 brick goal – and ‘Red, Black and White Day’ have shown a tremendous amount of support for the charity hospital, which will provide much-needed healthcare to those in Southland and Otago who are unable to access treatment through the private or public systems.

The ILT generously gifted a site – the former Clifton Club Inn, in Invercargill – for the project, which has also received the backing of a number of prominent community leaders to govern the project, as well as numerous medical professionals willing to get on board.

It is hoped building would begin at the site soon, with a goal to ensure the charity hospital is operational by April 2022. The project is seeking tradespeople willing to volunteer their services – labourers, carpenters and plumbers in particular. Those keen to get involved can visit Southland Charity Hospital.

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