This week The Westmorland Gazette has launched a new fund-raising campaign.

'Hospice Angels' calls on readers to raise a total of £30,000 - enough to fund for a whole year a nurse supporting local people who have chosen to die at home.

'Unsung heroes' is, perhaps, an over-used phrase. But there can be no group more deserving of the title than the Hospice at Home nurses, who work under the banner of St John's Hospice.

This dedicated band of nurses works every day of the year. Available 24 hours a day, the nurses offer specialist palliative care at the end of life, allowing terminally-ill patients in South Lakeland, north Lancashire and North Yorkshire the important option of remaining in their homes, surrounded by loved-ones and in familiar surroundings, during their final days.

It is clearly challenging and sometimes harrowing work - but the cheerfulness, kindness and compassion the nurses show mean that patients and their families often refer to them as 'angels'.

It costs £4 million a year to run St John's Hospice and its various services, including the Hospice at Home nurses and team.

A third of that sum comes from the National Health Service - but that still leaves more than £2.5 million to be raised locally, from organisations, donations and through fund-raising activities.

It's a huge task for the hospice and one that grows increasingly difficult at a time when many people's budgets are stretched and there are so many competing demands on available funds.

But as the hospice celebrates its 30th anniversary our target is to raise £30,000 - enough to fund the work of a hospice at home nurse for a whole year.

The campaign has already been backed by leading members of the community.

Now we are appealing to readers to get behind it as well, to ensure that this essential local service can continue to operate effectively and bring crucial help to people facing some of the most difficult periods of their lives.

Please dig deep and support the 'Hospice Angels' campaign.

To donate to the Hospice Angels campaign, please print off and complete the coupon above (MAKE YOUR CHEQUES PAYABLE TO 'HOSPICE ANGELS')or go to to donate online.