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Bob Qazi Interview

22-Apr-2015 bob

AT first sight it might seem a strange transition. Bob Qazi and Geoff Steele have gone from fighting crime, defusing high-intensity situations and having to think fast on their feet to working in a hub of tranquility, respite and relaxation. Yet both agree the skills built during their working lives have set them in excellent stead for their new challenge.

Following long and distinguished careers with Barrow police, both have taken on vital roles at St Mary’s Hospice in Ulverston.

Mr Steele, who was once in charge of community policing in Barrow, has taken on the position of legacy and individual giving fundraiser.

“The core of being a good police officer is being a good listener,” he explains, “because only when you listen in a genuine, calm manner can you ever truly work out what’s gone on.

“That will be a vital skill here. The special service you get here comes from a genuine motivation to care, listening to the needs of the people and of the community, and everyone mucking in together to make sure those needs are met.”

Former detective chief inspector, Mr Qazi adds: “I’d hope that, after years of building up relationships, communicating with people, making a lot of local contacts and building knowledge and under-standing of the local community, I can bring all that to this role.”

Mr Qazi’s focus as corporate fundraiser for St Mary’s is on ensuring the continuing success of some of the hospice’s most established events.

These include the Forget me Not Ball on May 1, for which £40 tickets are already on sale at the hospice, the Charity Golf Day on May 13, which teams of four can enter for £160, and the annual Walk to Remember on June 26.

He has also launched a business hub, set to meet on April 28th, for local companies to come together and learn more about the work of the hospice.

“My role is about building sustainable relationships with local businesses,”he explains, “in particular to look at long term and medium term funding to keep the hospice going.

“But I also want to dispel some of the myths that grow around a place like this. I once associated a hospice with a place people came to die with dignity and it’s not. It’s so much more.

“It’s about people with life-limiting conditions coming to have their quality of life enhanced by a state-of-the-art service that’s second to none. That’s here, that’s in our Hospice At Home work, it’s for those who come in for respite. We have our Orangery Cafe, we have our education centre conference facilities, this is a vibrant place that’s celebrating life.

“That’s what we’re doing here. This isn’t about death, this is about life and living.” Another key message Mr Qazi hopes to share with the community is of the importance of every penny raised for St Mary’s.

It is a sentiment shared by Mr Steele. His role will require the highest level of sensitivity, as he reaches out to those who may remember St Mary’s in their own wills or in memory of lost loved ones.

“No charity worth it’s salt will say anything other than ‘friends and family first’, he says, “but legacies and wills are utterly vital to the hospice. In reality, it’s what keeps us going. It’s around 20 per cent of our budget, which is a huge amount per year.”

As retirement plans go, the ambition, drive and commitment of both men seems a far cry from the more stereotypical options of long days playing golf or long holidays in warmer climes.

“I’m looking for a new challenge,” Mr Qazi admits, “looking for something that’s rewarding for my-self but still making a contribution after 30 years in public service.

“And I can really think of no more worthwhile cause than St Mary’s Hospice. Everybody’s a stakeholder in St Mary’s, if they live in this area. It touches us all either directly or indirectly.”

Email to find out more about legacies and individual giving. 

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