Winegrowers give back to hospice

As wine writer and the master of ceremonies for tonight's Charity Fine Wine Auction, Yvonne Lorkin, put it, pretty well everybody knows somebody who has been touched by the work of Cranford Hospice.

The devotion of the nurses, the doctors, the pharmacists and family-support staff had created the same level of devotion from the Hawke's Bay wine industry which has embraced the Hastings-based palliative care service.

The link is a unique one, and despite some recent tough times for some wineries, and uncertainties about balancing the books, there has always been a common theme when it came time to consider providing a lot of valuable wine for the annual auction, now in its 22nd year.

The common theme has been the worded response of "absolutely".

"It is a wonderful thing that the wine industry in the region has become committed to this," Mrs Lorkin said.

"It is just unique."

Unique and beneficial, with the takings from the annual auction usually nudging into the six figures.

Cranford Hospice has benefited from the generosity of the wine industry and of bidders keen to acquire an exceptional lot, since the first auction in 1991.

Since then more than $2 million has been raised, and the event has meant that winegrowers have become the single biggest organisational benefactor.

It is a wonderful thing that the wine industry in the region has become committed to this.Yvonne Lorkin chairmanNicholas Buck said winemakers got behind the event to give something back to their region and "out of a strong sense of community involvement".

He added that for some, the auction was also a chance to pay tribute to fellow wine enthusiasts and friends who had passed away.

Friends and enthusiasts who had experienced the remarkable touch of Cranford Hospice since it opened on August 12, 1982.

The umbrella of Cranford is an expansive one.

At any one time its clinical support staff provides palliative care to about 150 patients.

Some in their own homes, some in hospital and some in residential care facilities.

Hospice New Zealand has a motto of "Living Every Moment" and Cranford embraces that as seen through its "Memory Tree".

It is the kowhai tree, and in Maori legend there is the story of a young man who asks a young girl to marry him. It is mid-August and the kowhai tree is bare. She tells him she will marry him only if he can create something very special for her. So he tells her he will use all the powers he has to make the bare tree bloom into life and colour - which it does. Yellow blossoms appear around the girl's dark hair.

For the devoted staff and supporters of Cranford, it reflects the journey of people receiving palliative care.

At Cranford, tribute messages in the form of kowhai flowers are left permanently on the memory tree.

There is an eight-bed in-patient unit at the hospice for patients whose symptoms require intensive treatment, and there is also a family flat on site for extended family to stay.

Out-patient clinics are also in place for local patients, while clinic specialists travel to Wairoa and Central Hawke's Bay once a month.

There are crucial family support teams, day-hospice programmes and 24-hour advice.

The day programmes are for people "travelling a similar journey" where they can get together to socialise and take part in everything from music to art ... or just chat.

Staff, among the 60 who work within the hospice, have been known to pop in from time to time to have a lick at the ukeleles.

It is all about support to patients and families ... and that support does not end when a life does.

As Te Awanga's Richard Brimer found out.

He and his family lost a son, 25-year-old Joseph, but the staff kept in touch.

They just wanted to ensure all was as well as it could be. Was there anything they could do?

"They were just amazing - they do so much."

Cranford's general manager, Helen Blaxland, said the winegrowers, and the supportive public, had "gone the extra mile" when it came to embracing the auction.

"And it is not simply a wine auction - it is something that creates a very personal connection," she said.

The memorial lots from the past and the two featured in tonight's event, underline what it meant to so many.

As if from right across the industrial and social community, there were winemakers and families who had had personal experience with Cranford.

Mrs Blaxland said their generosity was invaluable.

Of the annual $4.5 million operating costs, just under 60 per cent was provided from Hawke's Bay District Health Board funds.

The auction, along with the Holly Trail and its four shops were the mainstays of bolstering up the rest.

Back in April, one man familiar with the auctions, given he was one of the original drivers of it, accepted an invitation to become patron of Cranford.

John Buck, of Te Mata Estate, had little hesitation in agreeing.

"I see my role as patron as helping boost the pride Hawke's Bay has in Cranford, in helping with fundraising and generally contributing to the well-being of our hospice," he said.

To have the role, and be part of the Cranford family, were "a compliment and a privilege".

• Online bidding for the auction cuts off at 5pm tonight and results will be tweeted throughout the evening. The website is

- Hawkes Bay Today

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