Mary Anne Lamont and Carol Somerville

A £500,000 respite care unit in the Bethesda Nursing Home and Hospice was officially opened this afternoon (Tuesday) by Mrs Mary Anne Lamont of Tong, who represented the family of Mary Anne Trump Barry, a generous American benefactor, whose mother came from Tong.

The upstairs nine-bedded care unit now brings the total number of beds in Bethesda to 30, which includes four in the hospice.

Carol Somerville, the Bethesda General Manager, said the opening was a considerable achievement for the community, their staff, and for the Trustees of the registered charity.

On behalf of Bethesda she thanked Mrs Maryanne Trump Barry, who works as a judge and who donated a large sum of money to make the development possible.  She said that those gathered were well aware of her Tong roots and she was very pleased to welcome members of her family who lived locally.

She said that the extension had meant providing employment for an additional 20 staff.  The home and hospice now employed more than 80 staff, and had boosted the local economy about £1.25m.  They also provided staff training.

Mrs Somerville said: "There was a shortfall in the capital funding, which we thought would be met my a contribution from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, but unfortunately for us we did not meet the criteria set by them and they turned down out request for funding, even though we were 'creating jobs,' 'developing skills,' and 'boosting the economy,' three of their 'priorities' in social enterprise. 

"The shortfall came from our reserves which have been built up through running a very tight budget, but still managing to provide a high standard of care.

She said the addition of these nine beds in the Care Home, currently being used to provide respite care for those in the community who needed it, had increased their workload more than they could have imagined, but the benefit to the community was even greater, which is why they persevered.

Since they opened at the beginning of December they had had 123 admissions to the unit.  

Concluding she said: "Bethesda – in the heart of our community, with the community at its heart – what lovely words spoken recently by a minister, but how very true.

"Built by the community, for the community, we continue to manage Bethesda with the same principles and values in order to provide the care those in our community deserve."