TV star Eamonn Holmes, who grew up a short distance from Northern Ireland Hospice’s adult and children’s facilities in north Belfast, said he had witnessed an amazing transformation.
The new NI Hospice ambassador commented: “As a young man when I used to walk past the hospice here you sort of averted your eyes because you didn’t like to think of what went on in there.
“Now when you see this – the biggest charity development project ever in Northern Ireland – and you go inside, you see the story is one of incredible positivity, excitement and joy.
“You realise that people don’t come here to die, they come here to live, to enjoy whatever life they have left.”
He added: “I salute these people and I’m so proud to be an ambassador for them and to spread the word and to realise how much money is actually needed from the voluntary sector to keep this going.
“My job now is to spread the word, be involved in fundraising projects and to make sure we continue to provide the best possible care in this, the best possible environment.”
NI Hospice President Paul Clark said it was nice to be working alongside his former UTV colleague.
Having been with NI Hospice for 30 years – 20 of those as president – Mr Clark said he had his parents to thank for getting involved.
He said: “They brought me up to give back. This society has been very good to me and this is an opportunity to give something back.
“The nature of my job – as someone who is wedded to our society – is such that my role with the hospice would fall very comfortably into that. Cancer or terminal illness knows no bounds, it is no respecter of class nor creed. We all know someone who has had a terminal illness.”