Towards the end of November 1980 a brief paragraph in the Lancashire Evening Post reported that Councillor Kitty Sharples had arranged a meeting in a Committee Room at Preston Town Hall to discuss creating a Hospice for Central Lancashire. My wife Mary was then Senior Sister at the fairly recently opened, purpose built, St Ann’s Hospice at Little Hulton. Her immediate comment was “Great; are we going?”, so, that evening, we turned up to find that the others present were all Local, or Health Authority, members or officers. Kitty made us very welcome and told us that she’d visited St Ann’s and said “I want one of those for Preston”.
There was no money, no premises, no nurses, no doctors, but a huge number of people needing what a Hospice could provide, and the energy and goodwill of Central Lancashire. Two and a half months later, on the 16th February 1981, Kitty called the first Public Meeting in a much larger room in the Town Hall. 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. Thirty years ago, on the 7th December 1981, St Catherine’s Hospice (Lancashire) Limited was formally incorporated and registered as a Charity.
And now, we care for thousands of patients and their families each year at the Hospice in the community and at home. We have over 500 volunteers and over 170 staff. Our marvellous local community helps us to raise the £4.9m that we need to keep us going as the local Centre of Excellence in Palliative Care.
For the future we are already involved in training doctors, nurses and care home staff in palliative care. We are providing help for people who have a variety of medical conditions as well as those with cancer and we have recently extended our Lymphoedema service to include children as well as adults.
We are determined to meet the anticipated challenges of the future and to respond to those we cannot foresee. We believe in the people of Central Lancashire and hope to continue to deserve their trust and respect.