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49 Interview by Steph Woolvin


Mark Hawkins


Rowcroft Hospice Chief Executive


A year ago Rowcroft Hospice was pushed to the brink of closure. Now the charity, which helps people with life-limiting illnesses, is meeting its funding targets and has opened a new boutique shop in Dartmouth. Our reporter Steph Woolvin has been talking to the charity’s new Chief Executive Mark Hawkins…


M


ark Hawkins joined Rowcroft in March, as the hospice neared the end of an urgent fundraising appeal to raise more than half a


million pounds and save it from closure. With his help and the amazing support of the local community, the charity’s finances are back on track but he says there are still big challenges ahead; “We’ve seen a significant drop in legacy income, so we need to continue to fight and continuously fundraise to keep this fantastic charity on its feet.” For almost 35 years the charity has helped people coping with life-limiting illnesses. There’s a 12-bed hospice in Torquay but most of the people the charity supports are cared for in their own homes and some are in other care homes. Despite recent reductions in the breadth of services the charity is able to provide, Rowcroft still supported over 2,000 patients and their families in 2016. It costs well in excess of £8 million a


money for us, so we’ll be looking closely at potential opportunities there. We’re also hoping to expand the Rowcroft Lottery and invest in more retail shops.” The charity’s newest shop is the one that opened


here in Dartmouth earlier this year. On their first weekend of business they made more than £3,500. It’s one of the hospices few ‘boutique’ shops which sells a selection of high quality pre-loved men’s and ladies’ clothing as well as handbags, shoes and other accessories. It means Rowcroft now has 16 shops across South Devon, including a tea room in Churston, coffee shop in Ashburton and furniture outlets in Paignton, Torquay and Newton Abbot. Another of Mark’s ambitions is


“The only way you really see how something


year to run Rowcroft. “With an ageing population the demand for our services has never been higher,” says Mark. Over the coming years he and his team will develop new income streams to secure the hospice, not just for the immediate future but for generations to come. Mark says he is working to a five-year plan to


ticks is if you get on the ground”


to create more precious moments for people who are coming to the end of their lives: “Our vision is to make every day the best it can possibly be. A patient of ours was once visited by her granddaughter on her horse Puzzle. We made it snow outside another patient’s bedroom window. We also managed to reunite one lady with her family who she


improve financial stability and when things start looking up they will be able to increase patient numbers and the breadth of care once more. “We rent a 22 acre estate in Torquay which doesn’t generate any


had lost touch with many years earlier. These things make a big difference.” Mark’s been in this role for six months. Previously, he has had a few high powered jobs - starting at Unilever (the company that brings us Persil and Marmite). Later he helped the TV Production Company Twofour expand in Britain and abroad. He lives near Totnes with his wife Denise and two boys Zach and Finlay


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