Watson family gives $500K to health care foundations

The Watson family has honoured their late father, Mel Watson, who successfully operated Watson's Distributors, by donating over half a million dollars to different health care foundations across the province.

"This donation was something that he and I had discussed," said son Rick Watson.

Rick added that since Mel preferred someone else to be in the spotlight, the donation was more in honour of all the customers, past and present, for Watson's Distributors.

The donations went to the Hospitals of Regina Foundation ($284,000), Saskatchewan Children's Hospital Foundation ($100,000), Weyburn and District Hospital Foundation ($100,000), Radville and District Health Care Foundation ($20,000), STARS Air Ambulance ($25,000) and Ronald McDonald House ($10,000).

"We have a lot of customers who utilize, or will utilize, these different health centres," said Rick. He added that by helping one health centre, the Watson family was actually helping many different communities since a lot of health centres are connected to each other in regards to patient care.

"Many of these foundations were looking at building new facilities too," said Watson.

Both the Weyburn and District Hospital Foundation and the Radville and District Health Care Foundation are in the process of raising funds for a new facility in their communities.

The Weyburn and District Hospital Foundation needs an estimated $20 million, of which they have identified funds of $15 million. The Radville and District Health Care Foundation is close to selling out all their sponsored rooms at the new Marian Health Centre, which is under construction in Radville.

Rick had explained that Mel wanted to donate to health centres, especially after Mel spent three weeks in hospital with kidney disease seven years ago. Mel was also on dialysis for four-and-a-half years.

"Mel was a business man, and so he noticed different things in the hospital that could improve efficiencies, and wanted to help make those improvements to help other patients in the health-care system," said Rick.

Mel (born Merrill) was a successful business owner in the Weyburn and Regina areas for more than 45 years. He was a committee member for several organizations including the Canadian Western Agribition, Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce and the Wa Wa Shrine flag corps of Regina, among others.

A special media announcement was held on May 17 in Regina, with many of Mel's family members in attendance.

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