Southland charity hospital one step closer to reality as old pub handed over for conversion

A Southland charity hospital is one step closer to becoming reality as the tavern it will be built from is handed over.

The Clifton Club Inn will be handed over on Friday so it can be transformed into the facility.

Cancer care advocate Melissa Vining says it's a momentous day.

"I feel excited, a bit tearful," she told Newshub.

"It just makes it feel like the hospital is very real once we've got that in our hands."

The first Casual Friday fundraising event will also take place on Friday, with people dressing in red, white and black to raise funds for the hospital. 

The hospital is of huge significance to Vining. In October 2018 her husband Blair was given eight weeks to live after he was diagnosed with bowel cancer.

The hospital system was so clogged, Vining was told her husband would not be able to see a public oncologist for six weeks. He died in 2019, after using his last months to campaign for cancer care reform.

The Southland Hospital was one of his last wishes so that others would not suffer the same consequence he did.

Vining says the people of Southland have thrown themselves into the project, and she's grateful for all the help.

"Our whole community has really got behind the charity hospital and it won't be long until we can start helping the people of Otago and Southland."

She says building is expected to start in September and the old pub will be converted into a functioning hospital complete with operating theatre.