Columnist Gary Rycroft: They’re a charitable lot in Lancaster

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Necessity is the mother of invention and so it seems with this district and charitable works.

More than 140 years ago after a campaign led by a forward-thinking Lancaster resident named Dr de Vitre, a committee of local worthies fundraised and set up the Royal Albert Institution Asylum on Ashton Road for the care and needs of children we would now class as having “special needs”.

Later in the 19th century, in the days still long before the NHS promised health care for all free at the point of delivery, it was local effort and money that built the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

Thirty years ago, St John’s Hospice was built “by the people for the people” and at a similar time next door to the hospice, CancerCare was started by another group of dedicated local folk to offer support to cancer patients and their families.

Many people are confused by these two charities in that they think they are one and the same.

This probably arises because they are situated side by side on Slyne Road.

But they are two separate entities, albeit that some of their “service users” (an awful modern phrase that) overlap.

They are two wonderful charities who each rely on donations and legacies from the community they serve to keep.

And the latest dynamic local charity to emerge is Unique Kidz and Co, started by two “ordinary mums” (their words) who wanted somewhere to provide after school care and holiday cover for their disabled children.

In fact. Jane Halpin and Denise Armer are extraordinary and want to turn their unique charity into a national force for change.

Let’s hope they do.

Dr de Vitre and his colleagues would no doubt be pleased that Lancastrians are still striving for a better world.