Dennis Keech OBE, the largest benefactor of the children’s service at Bedfordshire’s Keech Hospice Care, has died.
Dennis Keech, age 90, a well-known local businessman, and his wife Shirley, donated £1 million in 1997 to begin the charity appeal to build a children’s hospice.
Speaking during the appeal, Dennis said, “I’m thrilled the children’s hospice has reached this stage so quickly. I just wish it wasn’t necessary in the first place.”
When it opened in 2000, Dennis said the occasion was “absolutely marvellous” and even placed the last roof tile himself.
Dennis and Shirley remained active in their support for the hospice, returning to mark its 10th anniversary.
Cutting the birthday cake, they said: “We’re very proud, very happy and very impressed.”
Since 2000, Keech Hospice Care’s children’s service has cared for 1,487 children and supported 2,841 of their family and friends, across Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Milton Keynes.
“A remarkable man”
Liz Searle, CEO at Keech Hospice Care, said today, “Mr Keech was a remarkable man, a very clever businessman and a passionate supporter of Keech Hospice Care.
“In November, he joined us at The Big Trunk Trail auction night we held, and we spoke of how far the hospice has come and how much he had enjoyed being involved in the Trail.
“We met regularly and he always had advice and ideas, he will be very much missed by all the staff and volunteers here at the hospice – irreplaceable. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.”
Without Dennis’ incredible generosity and continued support, Keech Hospice Care as a charity, would not today be able to care for seriously ill children or support their families, making the difference when it matters the most.
Liz added that “our children’s service is Dennis’ legacy and he has left the community a remarkable gift.”
Widely known for saving local wiper business AC Delco in nearby Dunstable from closure, Mr Keech had links to manufacturing, property, telecommunications and design industries.
He was honoured by Her Majesty the Queen with an Order of the British Empire medal (OBE) for services to the motor manufacturing industry in 1996.
He also met with TRH the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge when they visited in 2016 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the adult service at Keech Hospice Care.