Terence Smith expected to work with the Peace Hospice for a maximum five years when he was asked to launch a Lottery to raise funds, but nearly 20 years later he is still overseeing the operation.
He had just retired after 12 years in a supervisory role with Lombard Trinity Finance when he was approached with the idea by a friend, Graham Ball, the Hospice Finance Director. His application was approved but when he turned up at his new workplace, an office above the Hospice shop in Watford High Street, he found it almost impossible to function there – because the ceiling was too low for his six foot frame.
Instead, working from home in Gerrards Cross, he launched the first draw in November, 1996, with 1773 members of the scheme hoping to win the first prize of £1000. Over the years the scheme has grown to more than six thousand regular entrants; a firm is paid to manage the draw, while Terence and his volunteer helpers deal with administrative queries and subscribers’ changes.
The Peace’s relatively small catchment area means that canvassers find it increasingly hard to sign up new members, but efforts continue to try to increase funds through sales in pubs and local businesses. Talks have also been held with Watford Football Club with a view to selling tickets at matches to up to 20,000 people and sharing the proceeds with the Club.
Terence feels that the National Lottery hasn’t significantly affected the local scheme because, he says, people playing the Peace Hospice Lottery are doing so mainly to support the cause rather than win money: “Some winners of the £1000 have not taken the money and quite often the ten pound winners say they’ll tear up the cheque”. In 2008 a Rollover was introduced to allow the first prize to grow and bring in extra revenue by boosting sales. The Watford Observer, a supporter of the Lottery from the outset, publishes the names of winners free of charge. Currently the scheme raises more than £130,000 a year for Peace Hospice Care.