St Margaret’s Hospice Care is kicking off a year of celebrations as we mark our 40th anniversary.
Staff, volunteers and supporters who have played a part in the success of our charity over the past four decades were reunited at tea parties at the hospices in Yeovil and Taunton.
At the Yeovil party, vice president Malcolm Maxted and patron Countess de Salis cut the special celebration cake made by our kitchen team.
Later in the day, June Fenn and Elizabeth Yates did the honours at the event in Taunton. June joined St Margaret’s as our first nursing officer in 1982, and long-serving volunteer Elizabeth started as Taunton coordinator for the Friends of St Margaret’s Somerset Hospice in 1984, raising funds to help build the hospice in Bishops Hull.
The events on Friday 10 January marked the launch of a year-long ruby anniversary celebration.
Ann Lee, chief executive of St Margaret’s Hospice Care, said: “We’re so excited about our 40th anniversary. I want to pay tribute to the work of all the volunteers and staff over those years who have made St Margaret’s the phenomenal organisation it is.
“St Margaret’s has always been a pioneer, and at the forefront of change. From harnessing technology to ensure greater connectivity across the county, for patients, healthcare providers and the hospice, to introducing a 24-hour adviceline, we have always sought to innovate so that we can offer the best quality of care for the people of Somerset. Our work is so important now, especially as there is increasing demand for palliative care.
“I’m optimistic about the future for St Margaret’s over the next 40 years because of all the work our local community does to support us. We will be working in partnership with GPs, district nurses, nursing homes and community hospitals to make sure that people don’t have to face a life-limiting condition alone and frightened.”
In 1978, a team of dedicated and enthusiastic people became convinced that improvements were needed in the care of those suffering from terminal illnesses in Somerset. The following year, Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement, was invited to give a talk at Dillington House, near Ilminster.
On January 7, 1980, St Margaret’s Somerset Hospice was registered as a charity and a major fundraising drive began. The first event was a cheese and wine party at the County Hotel in Taunton, which raised £400.
As funds steadily trickled in, the first nursing officer, June Fenn, was appointed in June 1982 to establish a home care service, initially covering a three-mile radius of Taunton.
Since then, thousands of people have worked, volunteered or raised funds to enable St Margaret’s to provide care and support to patients and their families during their precious last months, weeks and days. Today St Margaret’s has around 350 staff and 1,200 volunteers, and last year we supported more than 4,900 people across Somerset.
Throughout 2020, commemorative pin badges and ruby sunflower seeds will be on sale at St Margaret’s Hospice Care shops across the county.
And Sheppy’s Cider will be raising funds for St Margaret’s by donating 20p from every special edition bottle of their raspberry cider sold at their farm shop, on the A38 between Taunton and Wellington, during the year.
One of the highlights of the anniversary celebrations will be the Great Somerset Ruby Ball, at the County Ground in Taunton on Friday 16 October. Tickets, costing £500 for a table of 10, are available by contacting Charlotte Hayward on email@example.com.
The Colour Runs, St Margaret’s Hospice Care’s major summer fundraising events, will culminate with a ruby paint party. The events, sponsored by Western Power Distribution, are taking place at Taunton Racecourse on Sunday, May 17, and Wincanton Racecourse on Sunday, June 21.
For details of how to get involved in these and other events, click here.
More information about the history of St Margaret’s Hospice Care can be found here.