Patrons: Bill Beaumont, Mark Lawrenson & Tisha Merry Reg Charity No: 512186

Relatives of the businessman who donated hospice building to the community visit St Catherine’s

The great-grandchildren of the “generous and big-hearted” businessman who donated Lostock Hall – now the home of St Catherine’s – to be used as a hospital back in 1922 have paid a special visit to the hospice to learn about the wonderful work done here.

Sisters Frances Dewhurst and Annie Jackson enjoyed a tour of the building and St Catherine’s Park, and said it was “amazing” to see Harry Dewhurst’s “gift to the community” now being used to help local people.

Lieut-Commander Henry Dewhurst owned a large family cotton merchants business with his grandfather, father and brothers, called G & R Dewhurst. They managed four mills in the Preston, Bamber Bridge and Higher Walton areas, and he lived in Lostock Hall from about 1890.

Frances, who lives in Cambridge, said: “Our family business both spun and wove cotton, making cloth for shirts and khaki for army uniforms.

“Harry had a son, Robert Cyril Dewhurst, who had a daughter as well as a son Timothy, who is our father. Our dad was born in Cheshire in 1920 – records show that Harry lived at Lostock Hall until 1918, and he donated to be used as a convalescent hospital in 1922.

“It’s wonderful to visit the site; the lawns and monkey puzzle tree in particular help bring to life the idea of how they might have lived.”

Harry’s obituary from the Lancashire Daily Post in June 1931 described him as “generous, big-hearted and a great sportsman”.

It reads: “The developments at the Preston Royal Infirmary created a demand for a women’s convalescent home, and Lieut-Commander Dewhurst came forward and generously gave Lostock Hall and its extensive grounds for this purpose. He and his wife were present at the formal opening in June 1922, and since then the convalescent home has proved a great boon to the industrial workers of the district.”

Frances and Annie also understand that he served during the Boer War, and said “he seems to have been a fun-loving character”.

Annie added: “It’s so pleasing to see that his home is now used as a hospice; it’s marvellous. We found out about it when we did a search for ‘Harry Dewhurst’ on the internet.

“We know all about the hospice movement, and it’s very moving to have this special family connection with St Catherine’s.”

Lostock Hall Convalescent Hospital closed between 1980 and 82. Following a huge community campaign to establish St Catherine’s Hospice (Lancashire) Limited as a charity, the fundraising committee purchased the redundant house and grounds from the NHS and began a programme of renovation shortly after the hospital closed, and the hospice opened in April 1985.

Harry’s obituary in full:

The death occurred at his London residence on Saturday of Lieut-Commander Harry Dewhurst, late chairman of Messrs G and R Dewhurst, cotton manufacturers and merchants of Preston, Manchester and London.  He was formerly M.P. for Northwich Division of Cheshire.  He had been ill for two or three months.

For many years Lieut-Commander Dewhurst and his family resided at Lostock Hall, Preston and when he removed to Dalesford Cheshire where he farmed extensively, Lostock Hall for a time was occupied by Mr Cuthbert Pyke.  The developments at the Preston Royal Infirmary, under the chairmanship of Mr Alex Foster, who was himself also formerly associated with the firm of Messrs G & R Dewhurst, created a demand for a women’s convalescent home, and Lieut-Commander Dewhurst came forward and generously gave Lostock Hall and its extensive grounds for this purpose.

He and his wife were present at the formal opening in June 1922, and since then the convalescent home has proved a great boon to the industrial workers of the district.

Lieut-Commander Dewhurst was a generous, big-hearted and a great sportsman.  He was keenly interested in fishing, hunting and cricket, particularly in the latter.  He was well-known as a forceful batsman and played with the Free Foresters, Northern Nomads and Leyland.

During the war, he served in France and later acted as a King’s Messenger, in which capacity he visited many countries on the Continent.  He held the double rank of Major in the Army and Lieut-Commander in the Navy.

As a Conservative Lieut-Commander Dewhurst defeated John Brummer in the Northwich Division in 1918.  His country home of late years was at Pitlochry.