AN APPEAL is being made to a town today to construct a custom-built hospice.

Hartlepool and District Hospice needs to move out of its converted Victorian family house to a new £2.5m purpose- built hospice.

There is already about £1.2m in the kitty, and organisers arehoping a £500,000 National Lottery grant will encourage generous donations from trust funds.

An appeals committee has set itself a £150,000 target, which it wants to reach in 12 months.

Hospice chief executive Tony Collins said: "We require another building because we cannot offer the service to provide for the numbers of people we need to."

He said of the present hospice: "It's really at the end of its time. It's a converted Victorian family home, and we cannot keep pace with service volume and numbers, and improve the service we need to offer.''

The planned replacement will have ten beds instead of seven with single rooms, ensuring more privacy, opening on to landscaped grounds. It will also house day care facilities and a hydro- therapy pool, and facilities to bring pain relief.

A site near Hartlepool's General Hospital has been earmarked for the hospice, which it is hoped, will be completed by the end of March, 2002.

Mr Collins said: "We are talking about working out in the community with people in their homes. To expand the service we need a bigger, better place to work from.''

Ron Grieg is chairman of the appeals committee which is organising a calendar of fund- raising events throughout the coming year.

A large cheque is expected for the project from a Gus Robinson boxing night dinner, next week.

He said: "There is a lot of money which has already been subscribed and a lot, of course, expected to be forthcoming from various trusts. With all that money in place then obviously, we were able to target a figure we could achieve with other events. It is a challenge, but we are optimistic.