Our History

St Margaret's Hospice Care celebrated 40 years of care in Somerset in 2020.

The charity started out with a Home Care Team of just three based at Flook House, in Taunton, and has since grown to just over 300 staff and 1,200 volunteers serving the whole of Somerset, caring for over 5,000 people each year. We have grown significantly in this time, but our principles have remained the same – we have, and always will, keep our patients at the centre of all that we do.

Use the drop down buttons below to take a trip through the history of St Margaret’s Hospice Care:

Opening, Duchess of Kent7 January 1980; St Margaret's Somerset Hospice Limited was registered as a charity after a talk from founder of the modern hospice movement Dame Cicely Saunders at Dillington House in the previous year. Significant fundraising activities and events sprung up in aid of the hospice and numerous presentations were given to raise awareness of the need to build an In-patient Unit and Day Care Centre for Somerset.

17 May 1980; The first major fundraising event a Wine & Cheese party in the County Hotel, Taunton raises over £400.

1982; In June, the first nursing officer, Miss June Fenn, began working for St Margaret’s. Home Care was launched in Taunton during December, covering a radius of 3 miles.

1983; In February, the Frank Bond estate generously donated land to the Charity and in August of that year planning permission was granted and an appeals committee was established, tasked with raising the £1.6m needed for an In-Patient Unit in Taunton.

Taunton Hospice 19861987; After four years of fundraising the 16-bed In-Patient Unit in Bishops Hull, Taunton opened in June by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent. Championed by ‘The Friends Association’ this provided companionship, friendship, support and access to medical services for the terminally ill. In October of the same year the first shop also opened at 60 Bridge Street, Taunton.

The name St Margaret's was chosen because of the link with continuing care that had been provided by the old hospital and leper colony in Hamilton Road, Taunton since 1160. It was named after the patron saint, St Margaret of Antioch.

1988; The Day Care Centre opened in Taunton to the first 2 patients, for 2 days a week.


1994; The Education & Training Centre opened in Taunton to offer education and professional development to St Margaret's staff and other health care professionals across Somerset and neighbouring counties.

2003; After two years of fundraising, an additional 16-bed In-Patient Unit and Day Care Centre in Yeovil was completed in December and officially opened by Princess Alexandra the following year. The unit was fitted with the most up-to-date specialist facilities and equipment, providing spacious homely and comfortable yet private care, designed to meet the needs of patients and their carers.

2004; A Bereavement Liaison Officer was recruited to provide a lead for bereavement care. Significant growth in our services includes the services of Community Palliative Care Nurse Specialists, domiciliary visits by our clinicians and our “Hospice at Home” service which is provided in partnership with the NHS and Marie Curie Cancer Care.

2005; St Margaret’s Hospice celebrated its Silver Jubilee with a Wine & Cheese Party, re-enacting the very first fundraising event back in 1980. An appeal was launched to extend and refurbish the In-Patient Unit and Day Care Centre in Taunton, which had by then become tired, lacking modern facilities and lacking the space needed to fulfil our services.

Somerset Cancer Care2006; Somerset Cancer Care, a small but significant charity, merged with St Margaret's Hospice allowing us for the first time to broaden the scope of our work with those facing a life-limiting illness. This is included a number of drop-in patient support groups for those affected by cancer across the county. 

2008; A programme of re-branding and updating of our high street retail shops began.

We also took another leap forward by carrying out a full review of our catering services and Day Care Centre facilities, and are now offering individualised freshly cooked quality meals at any time of the day, or night. This is available to family and friends, as well as to the patients themselves.

2009; At the start of the year, we officially opened the new wing and Day Care Centre at the Taunton hospice.

Quantock House2010; Quantock House, funded jointly at the time with NHS Somerset, was opened for business. It operated as a respite centre for 8 years before being decommissioned in September 2018.

Our 5 year strategy to further build direct community support through the 'Hospice without Walls' strategy was also launched with the aim to be a 24/7 service. This coincided with the launch of the Central Referral Centre offering direct advice to patients and carers, day and night; allowing referrals to all services with just one call.

2011; Day Care Centre services were re-designed and re-branded, becoming 'Sunflower Centres', a service that offers a great deal more variety and choice for patients and their carers including symptom control, respite care and support for those experiencing social isolation.

2014; Two independent living suites to support patient discharges using funds from the Department of Health were opened, known as the Taunton and Yeovil Sunflower Suites.

In June St Margaret’s Hospice holds it's first major fundraising concert under the banner of Somerset Rocks, where Rod Stewart performed at the Somerset County Cricket Ground in front of 18,500 spectators. The event was a huge success and raised £150,000 for St Margaret’s Hospice.

2015; In the face of a growing elderly population and funding constraints, St Margaret’s takes a proactive approach to the future provision of end of life care and launches a ground breaking community review, called ‘Fit for Future’. 

2016; The final report on our Fit for Future review and consultation is published. As part of the study, a review panel was chaired by Lord Paddy Ashdown, including Macmillan Cancer Support and Marie Curie Cancer Care, together with a wide range of representative voices from the community, doctors, commissioners and health managers, as well as patients, carers and spiritual groups. The report analyses the key challenges and opportunities facing St Margaret’s and outlines options for delivering care in a way that is sustainable for the future.

2017; Lord Lieutenant of Somerset Annie Maw unveils a new Celebration Tree in the reception area of our Yeovil hospice. The artwork offers a way to celebrate life, love and friendship while raising vital funds. Our Taunton hospice gets its own Celebration Tree soon afterwards.

2018; St Margaret’s becomes the first hospice to launch its own funeral service, with the opening of our first funeral home in Taunton.

St Margaret’s receives the Hospice of the Year Award from Charity Today.

After being accredited as a Project ECHO (Extension of Community Healthcare Outcomes) Hub, St Margaret’s Hospice starts hosting online sessions to share specialist end of life care knowledge with other care providers in Somerset.

2019; Embracing new technology to improve our services, the first phase of our new patient and carer portal is launched, providing an online system enabling patients to view and contribute to their personal clinical notes. This unique system also provides an alternative way to refer into our services, improving accessibility for patients, families and healthcare professionals.

Celebrating 40 years of care with St Margaret's Hospice Care

2020; St Margaret’s Hospice Care celebrated its 40th anniversary throughout 2020 with special events such as anniversary tea parties at each hospice, the return of The Colour Run and the Great Somerset Ruby Ball.







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