The new leader of Prospect Hospice greeted community members at a reception and set out his vision for the future.
He spoke at an informal reception attended by guests from the worlds of healthcare, business, the arts, local politics, the voluntary sector and people whose lives been touched by the work of the Wroughton-based organisation.
The cafe area featured prominent pieces created by acclaimed photographer Rankin as part of the I Remember series for national charity Hospice UK, blending images of people who died while in hospice care with images of surviving loved ones.
Mr Lune said: "It's a real privilege to be here as part of an organisation that has supported the community that I have lived in for 36 years.
"We're at a very exciting time in the history of Prospect. For the last few years, understandably, we have been quite inward-looking - as so many organisations have and particularly the healthcare sector in general because of covid.
"Everything had to be drawn in and lots of things got cut, and we're at a time now when we're starting to look outward again. I'm privileged to be here at the start of a new five-year strategy.
"That strategy is based around a vision, and the vision is a community where death is not a taboo and everyone has a right to live and die well. That's quite a strange thing to talk about in many ways; we're a very sophisticated society, we're at a very sophisticated time in history, yet in this part of the world at this time we still flinch at talking about death.
"That's something we would like to start to change. We recognise, obviously, that you can't force that into people because there always has to be sensitivity around it. People talk about 'losing' loved ones and 'people passing over' for a very personal reason to them.
"The way we want to do it is to really start conversations, natural conversations, and there's no better example for me than these brilliant pictures by Rankin. Rankin, as you know, is a top fashion and celebrity photographer - he's worked with people like Madonna, David Bowie, the late Queen - but he also looks at real people in unique situations.
"They're telling a story and that's what we want to do ourselves."
Mr Lune introduced Nancy, widow of BBC Radio Wiltshire journalist Ashley Heath, who died in 2021 at 55, having been diagnosed some years earlier with a brain tumour.
He was a patient for three weeks before his death but was involved with Prospect long before.
Nancy said: "He was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2015 and he contacted the Prospect pretty early on with that. He very much wanted to die here if possible. If you knew my husband you know that he made decisions and they happened.
"The reason that he wanted that is that he did not want me to have the memory of the living room as where he breathed his last, and I'd be sitting there watching a soap opera and thinking, 'Oh...'
"Instead he wanted his last days to be somewhere apart from our home. The other thing he really wanted was for me to be his wife rather than his carer at the end, and that was absolutely instrumental in his end of life care for me.
"It was just unbelievably supportive and wonderful for those last few weeks for me to have all that medical stuff taken away from me and to have Ash cared for completely by people, and I'd just come in and hold his hand.
"And that was just precious time that we had together."
She added: "The Prospect Hospice is incredibly important because it's one of those services that, until you need it, you don't really think about it. But like Jeremy says, we need to be having these end of life conversations. We need to be talking about this. I'm sorry - none of you are getting out of here alive! But it's very important to have that conversation, not be afraid of it. Not having that taboo means that when it comes your turn in the queue it's so much easier for you and your loved ones. They'll know what you want for your funeral. They'll know what you want for end of life care and you'll know what they want.
"Those conversations need to happen. Please try to get over your squeamishness and please have those conversations.
"I was really privileged to be a part of the Prospect family when Ash was here, I was really privileged to witness his death which was a beautiful experience.
"He was met by some friends and he was whisked off, and I'm sure there's a heck of a party going on!"
Prospect Hospice costs about £8m per year to run, of which only a fraction comes from the NHS and central funding and the rest from public donations.
More information about the organisation and what people can do to help can be found at www.prospect-hospice.net
Be the first to comment on this article