MAGISTRATE Marie Peacock is tackling a challenging case.
As capital appeal manager for Kirkwood Hospice, she is spearheading a major campaign to raise £3m for vital improvements to the 25-year-old Dalton complex.
Marie is under no illusions about the scale of the challenge – seeking new ways to part people from their money in a difficult economic environment – but believes her experience as a fundraiser active in the local community and previous employment as a Job Centre personal adviser will help in her latest role.
Marie, 32, grew up in Mirfield and attended Mirfield Free Grammar School before taking her A-levels at All Saints’ School, Bradley. “It was the only school that did theology at A-level – and I wanted to do theology, she says. “I used to want to be a teacher. That was my main goal when I was young.”
Marie gained a degree in psychology at York University, but admits it did not really provide a springboard into the world of work!
Instead, she worked as a personal adviser at the Job Centre before becoming team leader at a call centre at Dean Clough Mills, Halifax, processing benefit claims.
Recalling her years at the Job Centre, Marie says: “I found it quite shocking sometimes how little some people did to help themselves and how dependent some people were on benefits. You got second and third generation unemployed people who had no intention of working and thought it was good to be on benefits.
“Then you got the other side of the coin, people who were made redundant in their 50s and 60s because their jobs were being phased out and who wanted desperately to work. It could be quite upsetting.”
Marie was already involved in fundraising for local groups in Mirfield and Dewsbury when she began working for Kirkwood Hospice in 2004 as community fundraiser for North Kirklees.
“I used to direct and produce pantomimes and I was involved in fundraising in my own time,” she says. “I had a good knowledge of the North Kirklees area and all that provided a good basis for my job with the hospice.”
Now Marie is putting her experience to use as capital appeal manager. The Capital Appeal has been set up to fund work at the hospice to provide new bedrooms, family lounges and kitchens. Residents will benefit from increased facilities, including individual garden terraces and en-suite bathrooms.
Said Marie: “The hospice was built 25 years ago to care home standards. We wanted to be a home-from-home, but we don’t have en-suite facilities for all the single rooms. Twenty-five years ago, we didn’t all have mobile phones and laptops, so there aren’t enough plug sockets around the bed.
“There have been massive advances in diagnosis of life-threatening illnesses. People are being diagnosed younger and living longer. A lot of our patients have young families and they want them around them, so we need more family areas, a family dining area and lounge areas.
“We also need to improve the clinical facilities.”
The target is to raise £3m by the end of March next year. Building work at the Albany Street site is scheduled for completion in June, 2013.
Marie’s job involves raising awareness about the hospice and the appeal among community groups, businesses and individuals and encourage them to raise funds or provide support in practical ways.
She is acutely conscious that the appeal must engage people who are not currently supporting the hospice. The appeal needs “new” money because the hospice still has to meet its existing running costs and cannot afford to see that vital funding diluted.