The legacy of Dennis Keech: Luton children’s service at Keech Hospice Care
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. Our children’s service is Dennis’ legacy and he has left the community a remarkable gift.”, Liz Searle, CEO at Keech Hospice Care.
Dennis Keech and his wife Shirley at the opening of the Courtyard Garden at Keech Hospice Care in 2017
Dennis Keech OBE, a well-known local businessman, died this month at age 90. He and his wife were the largest benefactors of the children’s service at Bedfordshire’s Keech Hospice. In 1997, they both donated £1 million 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.”
At its opening in 2000, Dennis described the occasion as ‘absolutely marvelous’ and even laid the last roof tile himself.
In 2010, Dennis and his wife Shirley returned to Keech Hospice Care to mark the 10th anniversary of the children’s service, cutting the birthday cake and commenting: “We’re very proud, very happy and very impressed.”.
Liz Searle added that “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.”
Since its beginnings, Keech Hospice Care’s children’s service has cared for 1,487 children and supported 2,841 of their family and friends, across Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and Milton Keynes. Liz Searle said that Keech Hospice will continue to take care of the charity as it goes from strength to strength and “we will pass his legacy on to the next generation to do the same. “
A man of the community
Dennis was widely known for saving local wiper business AC Delco in Dunstable from closure and had links to manufacturing, property, telecommunications, and design.
In 1996, he was honoured by Her Majesty the Queen with an Order of the British Empire medal for services to the motor manufacturing industry. 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.