Southland cancer care advocate Blair Vining was full of positivity and light until the end: and his final farewell will be held in the same fashion.
A memorial service for Blair will be held on Wednesday. Those planning to attend are asked to wear their favourite rugby jersey in honour of one of Blair’s enduring passions.
While Blair originally wanted his final send-off to be held at Bill Richardson Transport World, it has been decided this is not possible due to space constraints. The significant public interest in his campaign for better access to cancer treatment for all Kiwis means a large crowd is expected to attend. However, the family wish to recreate the same atmosphere as during Blair’s farewell party, held earlier this year in Bill’s Shed, Blair’s wife Melissa Vining says.
“This is not a funeral, it is a celebration of life,” she says.
“We want to pay tribute to Blair the way he would have wanted. We want to create a room full of love and positivity, to celebrate the life of a legend.”
Blair passed away on Friday morning, almost a year after he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bowel cancer and told he had mere weeks to live.
Because of chronic under-resourcing in his region, he was unlikely to see a specialist before the cancer took his life.
Instead of succumbing to negativity the father-of-two began a tireless campaign to reform cancer care throughout the country, in a bid to make access to treatment equitable for all New Zealanders. He and Melissa worked tirelessly to make access to cancer care more equal for all Kiwis, presenting a petition of more than 140,000 signatures to set up a national cancer agency to Parliament.
As a direct result of his campaigning, the Government announced its Cancer Action Plan. The plan included a pledge for an extra $60 million to Pharmac to fund cancer medicines, the establishment of a Cancer Control Agency, and the appointment of a national director of cancer control. Blair and Melissa also drove discussions about the need for a charitable hospital in Southland.
When: 11.30am, Wednesday 16 October
Where: ILT Stadium Southland, Invercargill
Wear: A rugby jersey in honour of Blair