Pastoral hospice garden off to a stomping good-time redneck start

Rotary Redneck Barn Dance fundraiser aimed at helping Cowichan’s first Hospice House

You can tip your Stetson to Rotary’s latest community endeavour.

Rotarians from Ladysmith and across the Cowichan Valley plan to fill a big, empty barn with boot-stomping good times to create a garden of comfort and peace.

The clubs have committed to raising up to $325,000 in support for the Rotary Gardens at Cowichan Hospice House. They’re holding what called the Redneck Barn Dance on Saturday, May 4, to begin raising money.

“It’s our first fundraiser,” said Gerry Giles, incoming president of South Cowichan Rotary. “It does put a very fun face on a sober and very serious project, something very badly needed in the Cowichan Valley. The idea of a Redneck Barn Dance struck a chord with us.”

Five clubs, including Ladysmith, Duncan, Chemainus, Duncan Daybreak, Duncan Noon and South Cowichan, have joined hands. They have a barn in the 1300 block of Herd Road, donated for the dance by Jennifer and Ian Woike. Now they plan to fill it with 500 people ready to join in a country-style dance including line dancing.

Row of Crowz will be there with a mix of country and classic rock music, along with local musician Matt Lemay. Chuckwagon-style food and three bars round out the evening

Rob Hutchins, former Ladysmith mayor and Cowichan Valley Regional District chairman, said the Cowichan Valley has only one end-of-life hospice bed at Chemainus Health Care Centre. The only other hospice beds in the area are two at Ladysmith’s Lodge of 4th, which are designated for low acuity, end-of-life and respite purposes.

“We’re now in the process of building a new hospice facility,” Hutchins said. A sod-turning event is being planned sometime in late summer/early fall, for a 10-bed facility.

They’ve already raised $9.5 million toward the estimated $10-million cost, so the Rotary clubs are helping to close the gap.

The hospice is slated for completion in fall 2020. Giles said the garden will be designed to allow patients to be wheeled out in their beds while also serving as a peaceful spot for visiting families and children.

Dance tickets can be purchased online through the Rotary Gardens at Cowichan Hospice Facebook page or at Redneck Barn Dance on

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