A will and a way – dying woman’s wish changes it all

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A dying woman’s last-minute wish has led to Ashburton Hospital being a leader in healthcare in New Zealand.

In 2008, Lynda Frampton, a quiet, frugal woman, was ill in Ashburton Hospital.

Her care was exemplary and to acknowledge that, she got a message to her Ashburton lawyer, Gary Fail, who was in Akaroa.

He came back to craft a will that left the bulk of her considerable estate (save for some small bequests) to a cause to benefit healthcare in Ashburton.

Six days after signing her new will, she died, and thus began a story that led to the redevelopment of Ashburton Hospital.

On Tuesday, Mr Fail handed over a cheque for $1.5m to David Meates, chief executive of the Canterbury District Health Board.

Mr Meates said Ashburton was a generous community and were it not for the financial injection from a variety of charities, the redevelopment – a redevelopment which has led to Ashburton Hospital leading the way in New Zealand for delivery of care and training – may not have happened.

The story of the impact of the Frampton estate was told at the presentation by Trevor Croy, chairman of Advance Ashburton, to which the Frampton estate was passed.

When the will was rewritten, no-one was aware of the size of the estate, and “without that we would not have started discussions with the CDHB,” Mr Croy said.

“Gary Fail crafted her new will and was a trustee for her estate, and he began talks about what might be possible,” Mr Croy said.

What became possible was the inclusion of money from other sources – Somerset Ashburton (seeded by the Ashburton Licensing Trust), Advance Ashburton, the Lochhead Trust, the Lion Foundation, Trevor Wilson Charitable Trust and the Mackenzie Charitable Trust.

Mr Meates said the redevelopment had been a long journey, from the “hands-around-the-hospital” of the 1990s, to a look at what services might look like, discussions with Advance Ashburton, the Canterbury earthquakes – to the $8.7m redevelopment which included building the 1040sq m acute assessment unit and day theatre.

“It is remarkable how supportive and engaged the community has been right from when we first announced the upgrade to the facilities here in Ashburton after the Canterbury quakes.

“We are very grateful to have had the people of Ashburton backing us on this journey. Their commitment has meant the best health services, for what has become a very strong and vibrant rural community, are available both now and long into the future.”

He said the services were a huge asset for the community.

The new facilities together with the $450,000 pledged by community funders to establish a rural health academic centre allowed Ashburton Hospital to built its status as New Zealand’s first rural centre of medical excellence.

Mr Meates said all that was only possible through the generosity of the community, and Ashburton was a template for health development elsewhere.

Mr Croy said: “We have shown a willingness to help ourselves and not rely on the government to do it all.”