Patients at St. Margaret’s Hospice will enjoy some extra comfort in future thanks to a generous donation in memory of a former mayor of Taunton Deane.

Ken Hayward was cared for at our Taunton In-patient Unit before returning home to Norton Fitzwarren. While at the hospice during this summer’s hot weather, he came up with the idea of raising enough money to ensure every patient could have a remote controlled fan to keep them cool.

After Ken died in July, aged 60, family and friends continued to support his project. Funds were raised by family, friends and former colleagues, who attended his funeral. Donations also came from staff at Taunton Deane Borough Council, Somerset Stairlifts & Mobility and Norton Fitzwarren Village Hall.

Taunton Deane Mayor Councillor Catherine Herbert helped in negotiating with Dyson, and with the £1,280 raised it was possible to purchase eight state-of-the-art fans.

Ken’s family visited the hospice in Bishops Hull to present the fans and receive a commemorative sunflower plaque, which is now on the Celebration Tree in the reception area. They were joined by the Mayor and Nita and Donald Wyatt, of Norton Fitzwarren Village Hall, and Mark Grantham, of Somerset Stairlifts & Mobility.

Mary Hayward, Ken’s widow, said: “Ken was admitted to St. Margaret's Hospice in June. It immediately felt like a second home. We were treated with courtesy, care and consideration. We felt really comfortable bringing our granddaughters here to visit, and it was nice to be able to bring the dog and have a picnic in the garden.

“The weather was very warm and Ken requested the use of a fan. He was delighted to be offered a Dyson fan with a remote control. As a terminally ill patient, Ken had a limited ability to carry out any action for himself. The remote controlled fan enabled him to control the temperature of his room without having to constantly call staff to switch the fan on or off, or adjust the settings.

“Ken was shocked to discover that the hospice receives only around a quarter of its funding from the NHS. He wanted to make a contribution towards the hospice, so he proposed ensuring that all patients could have access to remote controlled fans. 

“Tragically Ken didn't see his plans come to fruition. He would have been very pleased to know that he was able to make a practical contribution towards patient comfort at St. Margaret's Hospice.”

Mary added that the family would like to thank everyone who contributed to the project.

Teresa Coombes, Head of In-patient Services, said: “What Ken’s family and friends have achieved is incredible. It will make a massive difference to our patients.

“We always strive to give people as much choice and independence as possible, and these remote controlled fans will enable patients to make themselves more comfortable. Fan therapy is also really useful in helping patients with breathlessness.”

Councillor Herbert said: “Ken was a great man and it sums him up that, instead of feeling sorry for himself, he was thinking of ways to improve things for people who would follow him into the hospice.”

Last year St. Margaret’s Hospice supported more than 3,800 people affected by life-limiting illnesses across Somerset. After NHS funding, the charity needs to raise over £9.5m a year to fund its end of life care services for people across Somerset.