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Thousands of people donned red, black and white yesterday to support the Southland Charity Hospital (SCH) Buy a Brick Day.
More than 200 schools, businesses and groups got involved in fundraising efforts, such as buying a supporter’s brick.
They also included dressing in the colours of the Blair Vining Sports Foundation, some businesses hung balloons in the red, black and white, while AB Lime even wrapped a building in it.
In order to begin building the hospital, which will provide access to healthcare such as colonoscopies to those living in Southland and Otago who would otherwise be unable to access treatment through the private or public systems, about $500,000 needed to be raised to add to the $500,000 already collected.
Members of the hospital board received the keys to the Clifton Club Inn yesterday, which was donated by ILT and will be repurposed as the hospital.
SCH board chairman Dr Murray Pfeiffer said the hospital would make a difference, but yesterday was just the start of its journey.
"As a practising clinician, every day we see examples of people who need care but can’t get access to it ... these will be our patients, and we can’t wait to get started to provide care to this large sector of the community."
Cancer care advocate Blair Vining’s wife and SCH board trustee Melissa Vining said it was an emotional day.
She and her daughter had visited schools and businesses to see the "phenomenal support", and 3500 bricks had been sold by 2pm yesterday.
"The $1million is just the amount we need to commence the renovation ... it gives us the confidence to know we can continue to raise the right amount of money to build the hospital."
An SCH spokeswoman said they were hopeful to hit the $1million mark, but noted the total build cost was $4.5million.
It was hoped the process would begin in September, with the hospital open by Christmas next year.
Helen Robinson has been hired as the hospital general manager. She has experience in managing not-for-profit organisations and care facilities. She said the two went quite well together.
"I just saw the buzz around Blair Vining’s Epic Journey and felt it would be a great fit for me and be a great opportunity."