‘Luton’s adult hospice is Dr Wink White’s legacy’

Dr Wink White with wife Iris on Keech Hospice Care's 25th anniversary in 2016.
Dr Wink White with wife Iris on Keech Hospice Care's 25th anniversary in 2016.

The founder of the adult hospice at Luton’s Keech Hospice Care has died peacefully at the age of 90 surrounded by his family.

Dr Wink White, a GP in Barton-le-Clay for 36 years, was the driving force along with his wife Iris in recognising the need for and building an adult hospice for the people of Luton and South Bedfordshire.

Dr Wink White, who was instrumental in creating Keech Hospice Care in Luton, at the opening with HRH The Duchess of Gloucester in 1991.

Dr Wink White, who was instrumental in creating Keech Hospice Care in Luton, at the opening with HRH The Duchess of Gloucester in 1991.

Recently, the couple had celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary on Easter Monday and their special day had also fallen on the Easter Monday in 1956.

Liz Searle, chief executive at Keech Hospice Care, said: “Dr White was known as an assertive and passionate man with great strength and determination.

“He was always the first to say the success of what was the Luton and South Bedfordshire Hospice – then the Pasque Charity and now Keech Hospice Care – was not just about one person or a group of people.

“Speaking in 2016 to mark the 25th anniversary of the adult hospice, he said: ‘It was the community that made the hospice possible and without their co-operation it would not have been built’. His ethos still very much exists today.”

Dr Wink White meeting HRH the Duke of Cambridge when he visited Keech Hospice Care in August 2016.

Dr Wink White meeting HRH the Duke of Cambridge when he visited Keech Hospice Care in August 2016.

At his retirement party in 1986, Dr White’s wife, Iris, who was a volunteer nurse at the time, told the press that her husband wasn’t going to retire, he was ‘going to build a hospice for adults in Luton and South Bedfordshire’, much to Dr White’s surprise.

Iris identified the need as she saw first-hand how adults with life-limiting and terminal illnesses were finding it difficult to travel to hospices outside of Luton.

In the hospice’s early days, Dr White helped to recruit influential people needed to raise funds and for the planning of the hospice and was also a champion for NHS funding for the hospice movement, something that still remains an issue today.

It was during the 25 years of the adult hospice celebrations in 2016 that Dr White was delighted to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Keech Hospice Care.

The Duke summed it up perfectly when he said to Wink: “I understand you’re kind of a big deal around here.”