Hospice founder Iris gave a precious gift to Luton and South Bedfordshire

A founding member of the adult hospice at Keech Hospice Care in Luton, died on May 10 aged 92.

Iris White had the idea of building an adult hospice for the people of Luton and south Bedfordshire and she was a driving force in turning that dream into a reality, alongside her husband Dr Wink White, who died last year.

Iris White at the opening of Keech Hospice Care's new garden in 2015

Iris White at the opening of Keech Hospice Care's new garden in 2015

The couple set up the adult hospice together in 1991.

Reacting to Iris’s death, Liz Searle, Chief Executive, of Keech Hospice Care, said: “ We were proud to be able to offer her and her family care and support.

“We owe Iris a tremendous debt of gratitude. Along with her husband, Dr Wink White, Iris had a dream, and gave a precious gift to our community, a gift of care, compassion and peace with all the comforts of home. Their vision was for a place of expertise which would care for adults at the end of their lives and alleviate suffering and distress.

“More than 27 years later this precious gift, the adult hospice at Keech Hospice Care, continues working to this vision today. Thousands of adults and their loved ones have been cared for and supported in a very special way, despite the financial challenges remaining for us as a charity.

Iris and Wink White

Iris and Wink White

Liz added: “People are surprised to learn that it was Iris’ idea to build an adult hospice for the people of Luton and South Bedfordshire – along with her husband Dr Wink.

“As a volunteer nurse, Iris saw the difficulty patients from Luton and South Bedfordshire had in travelling to hospices outside of the area to get the care they needed.

“At her husband’s retirement party in 1986, Iris announced to the press that her husband, Dr White, who had been a family GP in Barton-le-Clay for 36 years, wasn’t going to retire, he was ‘going to build a hospice for the people of Luton and South Bedfordshire’ - much to Dr White’s surprise! The newspapers reported this and in 1991 what was the Luton and South Bedfordshire Hospice (then the Pasque Charity and now Keech Hospice Care) opened its doors for adults at a time in their lives when care was needed the most.

“Iris was an amazing woman of her time and would just get on with things. She had a very caring nature and was the most delightful lady you could hope to meet. She had a very gentle soul and was greatly respected by all who knew her.

“Iris’ spirit is woven into the very fabric of Keech Hospice Care. The adult hospice is Iris and Dr Wink White’s legacy. She was always one to recognise where progress was needed.

“We will always owe her a huge debt of gratitude.”