Luton’s Keech Hospice Care owes ‘debt of gratitude’ to founder member Zena

Above: Zena 'who helped make the charity the leading hospice it is today'.
Above: Zena 'who helped make the charity the leading hospice it is today'.

Keech Hospice Care is paying tribute to one of its founder members who helped raise over £100,000 for the charity during her lifetime.

Dedicated fundraiser, Zena Skinner, passed away on Tuesday aged 91.

Along with her brother, local businessman Bruce Skinner, who died in March last year, and his wife Mary, who died in September, Zena from Redbourn, was closely involved in fundraising for the charity from the 1980s, and as part of the original appeal committee, Zena helped design the catering side of the hospice.

Liz Searle, CEO at Keech Hospice Care, said: “We owe Zena an enormous debt of gratitude for all the time, involvement and devotion she has given over several decades, and it was a privilege for us to provide support for her in the final weeks of her life, including celebrating her 91st birthday with her.

“Zena will be greatly missed by everyone and our thoughts are with her family at this sad time.”

Zena and Bruce started the annual summer fete at Barnfield in Luton, which became a firm favourite within the town and around the wider area. Together Zena, Bruce and Mary have, over 26 years of fundraising, contributed more than £100,000 to Keech Hospice Care.

In her early life, Zena was well-known as a television chef and published several popular recipe books. She also served her country in the Women’s Royal Naval Service during the Second World War.

When interviewed for ‘Tears and Laughter’, a book written in 2012 to celebrate 21 years of Keech Hospice Care, Zena remembered the early hospice days, saying: “I decided that when I got to 80 years old or had raised £100,000 I would stop, but then we reached both those targets in the same year! I don’t really bother about how much we’ve raised. Whatever the figure is, I just think, ‘well they still need more money, so keep at it, girl’.”