Reflecting on a massive year

31 December 2021
Reflecting on a massive year

As the year comes to a close we’ve been reflecting on what has been an incredible year for the Southland Charity Hospital project.  The past twelve months have flown by, but so much has happened in that time.  Here are just a few highlights from 2021:

Construction gets underway

Last year the Invercargill Licensing Trust gifted the former Clifton Club Inn to the Southland Charity Hospital Trust. Plans for the hospital were full steam ahead with the help of the team at Lewis Bradford Consulting Engineers and Project Manager Boyd Wilson from Bonish ConsultingBarry Stewart Builders were appointed the lead builders for the project. On the 12th of May this year, the day before what would have been Blair’s 41st birthday, construction consent came through and work could get underway. 

Construction progress

Prior to finishing up for the year Karl Boniface from Karl Boniface Plumbing Ltd got in touch to let us know how construction is progressing:

The hospital building is mostly closed in, and the final internal structural steel work needed to support medical equipment has been signed off for fabrication, which was one of the last critical design elements. The construction team is very pleased with what has been achieved in 2021 and there is a sense of excitement that internal services will start to be installed in January.

Thank you to all those who have been involved in the construction of the hospital for your interest and support of this project throughout the year. I know many are eager to contribute in a hands-on way and we are looking forward to seeing that happen in the very near future. Momentum is likely to ramp up substantially over the coming months along with growing media interest.

Lending a hand in so many ways

We rely on volunteers across the whole project, from our permanent or semi-perminent volunteers through to one-off or short-term volunteers.  We couldn’t do this without your help and we appreciate every single one of you.  This year we’ve been overwhelmed by the number of volunteers from near and far who have offered to pitch in.  There were businesses and organisations who came in to help clean up on-site, our administration team, tradies, suppliers, committee members, medical workers, those who have helped with events, and those who have come on-site to lend a hand.  We thank you all! 

We still have a stack of jobs to be done so if you’d like to volunteer, please get in touch here.

Whether you’re a tradie, a labourer, a gardener, or someone who just wants to muck in, we’d love to hear from you. It doesn’t matter whether you volunteer for a couple of hours, a couple of days, or even longer; every hour counts and all help is appreciated.

Reaching our first fundraising target


Our Buy a Brick campaign was launched in July last year with the aim of selling 10,000 bricks to help fund the hospital’s construction.  Thanks to the support from our community we reached this target in under a year. By Christmas this year we reached an incredible 10,404 bricks and 652 plaques.

If you haven’t got yours yet or you want to buy another one, there’s still time. You can buy your brick or plaque here.

It doesn’t stop there though.  We have been selected as the beneficiaries of several grants throughout the year and there have been so many fantastic community-led fundraisers going on throughout the year from the young people putting their hair on the line to fundraise for us, through to knitting and patchwork items that have been donated, quiz nights, the business initiatives, and raffle items. 

We were extremely excited in September to be able to let everyone know that we had received an anonymous donation of $500,000, which was not only a massive contribution, but also rounded out the funding needed for the construction of the hospital. It’s been so humbling to watch our community at work and to be on the receiving end of such incredible generosity.  


One of the largest community-led projects from this year was the #Bales4Blair initiative which saw sheep farmers and wool brokers donating more than 300 bales of wool.  This was scoured by Woolworks NZ before being sent to Terra Lana NZ, both of whom donated their services, turning the wool into 254 bales of insulation batts for the hospital.  Incredibly the #Bales4Blair team had excess wool, which was then sold off, with the proceeds also being donated to the hospital.

Tractor Trek

Another notable fundraiser from this year was the Tractor Trek in May.  This was run by the Thornbury Vintage Tractor Club as a fundraiser for the Southland Charity Hospital.  Eight members of the club took turns driving Bert (aka Bertie), a yellow 1983 Massey Ferguson, non-stop from Invercargill to Christchurch and back again over two massive days.  This was dubbed the ultimate kiwi roadie and saw the club raise $10,190 for the hospital.

Painting the town Red, Black and White

Our annual fundraiser, Red, Black and White Day, was held in July, and once again the Southland community got behind the hospital and helped us paint the town red, black, and white.  We even had a couple of schools and kindergartens from Central Otago joining in this year.  The team loved travelling around the South checking out as many schools and businesses as they could, seeing all the different ways people were taking part. 

This year we were also very proud to be able to launch the Southland Charity Hospital jewellery collection, in collaboration with Fabuleux Vous and Country Jewel.  This beautiful collection is so special, and we loved being able to launch it just in time for Red, Black and White Day.  You can read all about it or purchase your piece here.

New Zealander of the Year nominations

As most of you know this project was started by Blair and Melissa Vining. Since Blair’s passing Melissa has been both tenacious and relentless in her efforts to help the people of Otago and Southland recieve the access to healthcare services they deserve and end the postcode lottery that exists in our healthcare system.

It was only fitting then that Melissa was nominated for Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year for 2021. Although we were disappointed to hear she missed out on the top prize, we were so proud she made it in to the top three and stoked to learn this month that she’s been nominated for the award again and has made it in to the top ten for the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year for 2022.

We wish you all the best for next year Melissa, you have tirelessly campaigned for the Southland Charity Hospital and you deserve this recognition for all that you have done.

Looking ahead to 2022

This year has been absolutely incredible for so many reasons and we’ve already achieved so much, but next year is going to be epic! 

Early next year we’ll be celebrating some big construction milestones as we gear up for our big opening in the middle of the year.  We’ll also have a few fundraising events going on as we try to reach the next fundraising goal – $1 million for medical equipment and major assets.

There’s plenty happening and we’ve got some very exciting plans for next year that we’re bursting to tell you all! Follow us on Facebook to find out more!

We’ll leave you with this message from our Acting General Manager, Jim Hurring.

From the Acting GM’s office

I regard it as a pleasure and privilege to join the Southland Charity Hospital (SCH) team and the admiration for the vision and dedication, especially by Melissa Vining, to embark on a project such as a charity hospital to provide hope for those people in the Southland and Otago community who are unable to have timely access to the public health system.

The position of General Manager presents unique challenges, being responsible for a myriad of activities associated with a project of this nature ranging from sourcing adequate funding through to the building of the hospital and the establishment of the medical infrastructure essential for the delivery of a quality health service.

It is an honour to have the opportunity to assist those from the Otago and Southland community to access potentially life-saving health services they are currently denied.  This year we have been able to do this through our colonoscopy services, which we have been able to do thanks to the Southern Cross Hospital in Invercargill. 

Once the hospital opens, this service will continue to be offered alongside some potentially life-saving treatments.  In addition, the hospital will be able to provide services for many people who are currently unable to access oral health services, mainly due to cost, which has implications such as deteriorating oral health issues including potential delays in accessing designated surgical interventions.

The project relies on people with various skills who donate their time in support of improving access to health services. The range of skills and dedication they bring to the project is impressive and greatly appreciated, this project would not be successful without their input.

Currently, the main focus is on building the hospital and the range of skills required to achieve this. SCH is also indebted to the many companies and firms providing building materials and labour to establish the hospital and the oversight of key individuals to ensure the build is according to specifications and critical timelines.

SCH is also grateful to the dedicated administrative team who ensure all of the supporting administrative tasks associated with hospital funding, hospital build, medical equipment, and subsequent patient management systems are managed efficiently.

I would also like to extend my appreciation to the SCH Board of Directors for their advice, support, and overall guidance of the project.

The early months of 2022 are important to progress the multitude of hospital building features to ultimately accommodate a Day Stay Theatre and Dental Facility. The building design must comply, not just with a building code, but also with very stringent health facility standards.

I am impressed with the dedication and focus the SCH building team applies to ensure the hospital building design meets required standards but is also achieved within established timelines, acknowledging challenges with the Covid virus and inevitable delays. I am confident that the hospital will be completed by mid-2022, which is a credit to all those involved given the nature of the project and the challenges they have encountered.

The support by the Otago and Southland public has been amazing and huge appreciation must be conveyed to the hundreds of people contributing to the Buy a Brick campaign and other funding events, but also people and firms who have donated or funded equipment or contributed funding in some way towards the hospital build. Also, to those people who have designed quilts for patient comfort and other similar items which reflects the depth of feeling by many who support this concept and project. We ask for your continued support into the new year to assist us in covering ongoing operational costs and ensure the future viability of our services.

Jim Hurring, Acting General Manager of the Southland Charity Hospital

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