Jane Whenham-White has set up her own business.
A well-known local face has launched a new business after spending more than 20 years at St Andrew's Hospice.
Jane Whenham-White has left her role as Head of Income Generation and Marketing at the charity to launch Daughters In Lincolnshire, a bespoke service to help families.
“My career at the hospice began 22 years ago, although I have worked in the voluntary sector for 30 years," she said. “I recently experienced a difficult few years as my parents needed more support. Realising that this was happening to people like me everywhere, I took stock of what I had experienced along the way.
“My mother began her journey with dementia some seven years ago. Initially my father cared for her but then became ill himself. From that point, my husband and I were on a helter-skelter journey, trying to support them so they could remain in their own home, which is where they wanted to be.
“In the end, we realised we couldn’t cope, so I spent weeks visiting care homes. It was all very new to me and very difficult emotionally as we are a close family. Fortunately I lived close to my parents and with my husband’s support, we arranged for them to make wills, managed their finances and liaised with health and social services and so on.
“Reluctantly and from everyone’s point of view, my parents moved into a care home near to where we live in Louth. Sadly my father died shortly afterwards and we subsequently had to sell their car and house.
“Had I not been around, the situation would have been much worse. My sister lives 250 miles away and has commitments of her own which prevent her from being away for any length of time.
“I began thinking that perhaps I could use the knowledge I’ve gained through this experience in a positive way to help other people, and that’s how Daughters In Lincolnshire has come to be.”
Jane will be familiar to many as the public face of St Andrew’s Hospice, having had direct involvement in raising millions of pounds each year. The charity’s annual running costs are £4.1-million, and it receives minimal statutory funding.
“I’ve had such a rewarding time at the hospice, and met so many enriching people,” she said. “My colleagues and I have worked so hard over the years to communicate to the general public that hospices are not depressing places, but uplifting and full of hope, where laughter is the main feature of each day despite often difficult circumstances.
“Patients say amazing things to us, like ‘The surgeon saved my life but the hospice gave me my life back’ and ‘When I came to the hospice, it was like finding an oasis in a desert!”. Comments like that make you realise that what we do is appreciated and genuinely does make a difference.”
Significant moments during Jane’s time in the role include the opening of the children’s hospice 16 years ago, which remains Lincolnshire’s only children’s hospice, and more recently the modernisation of the hospice as a whole, which saw a brand new building constructed on the large site in Peaks Lane, Grimsby.
“I will take so many memories with me,” continued Jane. “I have met so many nice people over the years, very genuine people who, without exception, are a pleasure to be with.
“Twenty years ago, the running costs were in the region of £500,000 and now it’s more than £4-million; that just shows how larger society is reflected at the hospice, and while innovation to raise that income is important, the bedrock of that is those people who organise coffee mornings, knit and sew, and put their pennies in collecting tins. People’s generosity was, and still is overwhelming.
“When I joined, the hospice was still operating from The Beeches, in Scartho, which is now a restaurant and hotel. The site in Peaks Lane had already been purchased and earmarked for our new site, which was made possible by a legacy from a lady called Miss Gade. She once gave £5 to St Andrew’s, so we kept in touch with her by sending newsletters and our annual reports, and when she died, despite the fact she lived in a small terraced house in Grimsby, she left us her estate, valued at about £250,000. Her boss had shown her how to play the Stock Exchange, and generated that money. That has always stayed with me.”
Jane has been married to Mike for 21 years. She’s a keen cook and food enthusiast, and is chair and secretary of the British Horse Society North Lincolnshire.
“I shall miss working at the hospice,” Jane said. “I’ve loved my time here and working with the mix of people I have – that’s patients, families, staff, volunteers, donors, everyone - is a privilege to be a part of.
“I was born in Birmingham, and although I’d lived elsewhere in between, moving to Lincolnshire was a shock at first because I was used to having anonyminity and here there is a very strong sense of community; it’s like a large village. Now I love that sense of belonging. People really care about each other and look after each other, and that’s mirrored in the support that the hospice enjoys.”