St Catherine’s celebrates 30 years of care
A thanksgiving service was organised to mark 30 years to the day since St Catherine’s Hospice opened its doors to patients and families for the first time.
On April 29 1985 day therapy began at the Lostock Hall hospice, run by nurse Bernadette Baxter – who continues to work for the charity today. Just over two months later, on July 8, the in-patient unit opened with 12 beds, which was later extended to 19.
To mark the important milestone and celebrate three decades of the much-loved local charity being a vital part of the Central Lancashire community, a thanksgiving service was held welcoming staff and supporters past and present.
Pupils from Lancaster Lane Primary School in Leyland performed two songs – True Colours and Walking on Sunshine – as part of the service, which culminated with the cutting of an extra special birthday cake.
The cake had been designed and made by award-winning cake decorator Andrea Ousby, who runs her own business Celebration Cakes and Sugarcraft from her Freckleton home. She was showing her support for the Give A Gift campaign – a 30th anniversary appeal run by the hospice in conjunction with the Lancashire Evening Post which highlights 30 different ways individuals, schools, businesses and groups can show their support and ‘give a gift’ during 2015.
Among the guests were trustee John Turner and his wife Mary. John was one of the original signatories to the founding document which established St Catherine’s Hospice as a charity in 1981, while Mary was working as a nurse at St Ann’s Hospice in Little Hulton.
Both were excited back then about the prospect of something similar to serve the people of Central Lancashire. And when a public meeting was called in February 1981 to discuss the proposals further, it was clear their enthusiasm was shared by many more in the local community.
John remembers: “Ten minutes before we were due to start, we were collecting chairs from rooms all around to seat everyone who came. Dr Moya Cole, from St Ann’s, talked to us about her vision of hospice care and, amid tremendous enthusiasm, St Catherine’s was born.”
Bernadette, who now works between the nursing and medical teams co-ordinating care, and Lorna Wastell – the current in-patient unit manager who joined the team in December 1985 – also attended the thanksgiving celebration.
Both agreed that although many things have changed thanks to developments in palliative and end of life care over the past 30 years, their fundamental purpose remains the same.
Bernadette, who was inspired to follow a route into hospice care following the experiences of her own family when her mother Margaret had died, said: “We have more weapons in our armoury today, but our focus on supporting people to have the best quality of life is the same as it has always been.”
Lorna added: “Lots of things have changed – we have more beds, there have been many developments in medications, therapies and equipment, and people are living longer which is fantastic. This brings with it its own challenges, as illnesses become more complex and people develop different combinations of conditions.
“But the ethos of the hospice remains what it always has been – a focus on patient choice about the things which are important to them; symptom management to help them feel as comfortable as possible; honesty, good communication and a commitment to supporting those close to them too.”
Chief Executive Stephen Greenhalgh thanked everyone for joining in the special occasion and for being part of St Catherine’s over the past three decades.
He said: “St Catherine’s is all about people – those whom we care for, those providing care or those fundraising or volunteering.
“Over 30 years we remember the commitment of tens of thousands of people who have made life in Central Lancashire much better as a result of their dedication and self-sacrifice. We can also remember the fun, laughter and enjoyment that we have had along this wonderful journey, that is continuing to inspire us all to go further and to do more for those whom we know and love.”
Cliff Hughes, Chairman of the Board of Trustees who has been involved with St Catherine’s since 1982, added: “St Catherine’s is a much-loved local charity which was built by local people, for local people.
“It has been wonderful to celebrate the incredible achievements of so many at this thanksgiving service, as we look ahead to the next 30 years and beyond.”
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