1995: Severn Hospice lottery launches the same year as the National Lottery

As one of the first hospices in the country to run a charity lottery, our weekly draw and seasonal raffles have raised almost £16 million towards caring for families since it launched 25 years ago in 1995.

The idea was originally fostered by Mike Domoney, who helped set up the hospice as a dedicated volunteer and was then appointed as our first charity employee in 1985.

As appeals director, he continually looked at new ways for the community to support us and in 1995 he spearheaded our very own hospice lottery launching in the same year as the National Lottery.

Mike said: “The advertising for the National Lottery was huge and I saw people rushing to throw money at it, which made me think that the people of Shropshire and Mid Wales would do the same to support the hospice, if they could.”

St Catherine’s hospice in Lancashire started the first charity hospice lottery in 1993. I followed its success, then visited their Preston site to learn all about it and quickly saw that it could be done at Severn Hospice.”

The first few months

Mike set about ready to launch the Severn Hospice lottery and on 24 Feb 1995, the first lottery draw took place.

Mike said: “Back then there were no computers and the lottery was run in a good old-fashioned mechanical way. We had three staff and lots of volunteers involved, there was a lot of paperwork and printing and tally entries on huge whiteboards.”

Mike explains that they had an expectedly slow start and then the community enthusiastically supported the venture, especially in Wales where there was apparently limited services for people needing end of life care.

 “It raised a lot of eyebrows initially, but it worked. It was nerve-wracking however we had a lot of faith,” he adds. “I sold the idea to everyone and I believed in it. I drove all over Shropshire and Mid Wales offering continual encouragement, I don’t know how many miles I did, I wore two cars out!

“We had one lady knocking on doors selling tickets and our 24 support groups and 17 shops advertised it. The first few months ran at a loss and we were giving away more prizes than we were making, however we were warned it would be like that. Those first six months were nail biting, truly, and then we broke even, and it exploded and turned into the success it is today.”

A success for families needing our care

People joined to support our work in the community and our charity lottery turned into a successful, steady income stream generating almost £1 million towards our hospice care every year.

Mike adds: “I never dreamt it would develop like this; I’m very pleased about how it’s grown over the years. What was wonderful to see was that lots of people signed up to support the hospice, not to win. The lottery proved to be a simple, easy way to give regularly and a practical way to help us, plus it is of course fun, and people enjoy it.”

Help us continue to care. Get your £1-a-week ticket now or call one of the Lottery team on 01743 455319.

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