Southland pub to become a charity hospital, cancer campaigner Blair Vining's final wish

A suburban Invercargill pub is set to become the country's newest charity hospital.

The Invercargill Licensing Trust is donating one of his properties to the community project, which was the dying wish of cancer campaigner Blair Vining.

The last drinks will be called at the Clifton Inn later this year, with the tavern set to be transformed into the home of the new Southland Charity Hospital.

"In true Blair style, he came up with these big ideas to try and make things better for everybody else. And my job is to deliver the project," said Melissa Vining, the Southland Charity Hospital Founder, and Blair's wife.  

The project was the vision of cancer-care campaigner Blair Vining, who lost his battle last October. The Invercargill Licensing Trust is donating the Clifton building and land to the charity.

It's a weight off the shoulders of Melissa, as her husband's dying wish was for better access to timely healthcare for people in the south.

"It's a pretty emotional moment to actually be standing in the building for the first time. And seeing that the project will come to life fairly quickly," said Melissa.

It reduces the trust's fundraising target, meaning the community hospital can open its doors sooner to patients from around Otago and Southland. 

"It's a million-dollar-plus head start for them, and it's fast-tracked the process by a good two years. We're incredibly pleased that we've been able to help in that regard," said Invercargill Licensing Trust chief executive Chris Ramsay. 

While the hospital won't be completed for a few years, the trust will be offering colonoscopies soon through a private provider.

"These colonoscopies will be offered to people who have been denied access in the public sector, and who are unable to fund colonoscopies for themselves," said Dr Murry Pfeiffer, the Southland Charity Hospital Chair. 

It's a battle Blair and Melissa have fought for since Blair's late diagnosis of terminal bowel cancer.

"I personally think the politicians need to be ashamed of themselves. It shouldn't take a community to set up a charity hospital," said Melissa.

The pub will close its doors later this year, ready to be transformed into a hospital saving the lives of southerners.