Tribute to Dame Rosie Horton, Starship Foundation’s wonderful patron and founding Chair

We are deeply saddened about the passing of Dame Rosie Horton, Starship Foundation’s Patron, the Founding Chair of the Friends of Starship and our pioneer supporter.

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Starship, New Zealand’s national children’s hospital, wouldn’t be where it is today without Dame Rosie Horton and her group of supporters who made it their mission to raise funds for the children of New Zealand.

Dame Rosie Horton was reluctant to get involved with Starship having other charity commitments, but it was hearing a patient’s story that changed her mind. She met a mother and child who had travelled from Southland by bus, taking them four days to get to Starship and she thought that simply wasn’t good enough.

The hospital, 30 years ago, was in urgent need of even the most basic paediatric equipment, and she mobilised her friends to get behind the cause and raise funds to provide the best healthcare for children.

Friends of Starship’s first fundraising event was the TV3 telethon in 1993 raising $1.5million for Starship. Since then over $160 million has been raised for the hospital.

Starship Foundation’s Chair, Martin Wiseman, says Dame Rosie’s support for the foundation and hospital was enduring and never-ending.

“She was relentless in her approach to secure donors, carrying a thick skin when asking people for their support of the hospital.”

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Starship Foundation’s CEO, Jo Simon, says she’s forever grateful to Dame Rosie for her vision.

“Dame Rosie was the epitome of compassion, backed by a relentless and unwavering dedication to helping those less fortunate than herself. 

“It’s hard to believe that only six weeks ago we were at Dame Rosie’s home, where she and her husband Michael hosted a 30 year reunion of the Friends of Starship.. This was such a special occasion, reconnecting and celebrating, and we will treasure these special and recent memories where we felt lucky to be in her orbit.

“At the Friends of Starship reunion event at her home, we were regaled with stories of her waiting outside the Northern Club in the ‘90s, approaching prominent businessmen for their support – only for them to complain to her husband!

“We are forever grateful to Dame Rosie for her vision, her feisty fundraising and her generous spirit. Her legacy will live on as we carry on the important work for which she started.”