Tribute to Dr Wink White (1928-2018)

It is with great sadness we have learnt Dr Wink White, founder of the adult hospice at Keech Hospice Care in Luton, has died peacefully at the age of 90 surrounded by his family.

On Easter Monday Dr White celebrated his 62nd wedding anniversary with his wife Iris White, which also fell on an Easter Monday back in 1956.

Wink and Iris

Along with his wife Iris, Dr White – GP in Barton-le-Clay for 36 years - was the driving force in recognising the need for and building an adult hospice for the people of Luton and South Bedfordshire. He was known as an assertive and passionate man with great strength and determination.

Dr White was always the first to say the success of what was the Luton and South Bedfordshire Hospice (then the Pasque Charity and now Keech Hospice Care) was not just about one person or a group of people. Speaking in 2016 to mark the 25th anniversary of the adult hospice at Keech Hospice Care, Dr Wink White said: ‘It was the community that made the hospice possible and without their co-operation it would not have been built.’ His ethos still very much exists today.

Wink Royal 1

Dr White’s spirit is woven into the very fabric of Keech Hospice Care – a portrait painting of him still hangs with pride in our boardroom today. The adult hospice is his legacy and he has left the community a remarkable gift. We will continue to take care of the charity as it goes from strength to strength and will pass his legacy on to the next generation to do the same.

The beginnings of the adult hospice

At his retirement party in 1986, Dr Wink White’s wife Iris, who was a volunteer nurse at the time, told the press her husband wasn’t going to retire, he was ‘going to build a hospice for adults in Luton and South Bedfordshire’, much to Dr White’s surprise!

Iris identified the need as she saw first-hand how adults with life-limiting and terminal illnesses were finding it difficult to travel to hospices outside of Luton. Dr White knew there were people dying in hospitals and wanted them to have somewhere comfortable to end their days.

In the hospice’s early days, Dr White helped to recruit influential people needed to raise funds and for the planning of the hospice building. He was also a champion for NHS funding for the hospice movement – something that remains an issue to this day as Keech Hospice Care relies on the community to raise 70 per cent of the over £5.7 million we need as a charity to survive.

It was during the 25 years of the adult hospice celebrations in 2016 that Dr White was delighted to meet TRH the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Keech Hospice Care. The Duke summed it up perfectly when he said to Wink: ‘I understand you’re kind of a big deal around here.’