Bristol's much-loved charity launches its 35th anniversary year

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By sophia1980 | Friday, February 01, 2013, 15:33

Staff, supporters and patients have attended a celebratory launch at Bristol's only adult hospice, to commemorate its 35th anniversary.

A staple of the community over the last three and a half decades, St Peter's Hospice has achieved a great deal in its short history, and is celebrating the work achieved as well as looking forward to what it has planned for the future.

To help the celebrations go with a swing, in attendance were two of the original nurses, as well as Olive Martel, who helped to set up the hospice and the home care service in 1977.

Carole Jenkins began working as a home care nurse for the hospice in 1978. She worked in a team of four which covered the whole of Bristol and visited patients in their homes. Carole said:

"I worked for St Peter's Hospice for five years at the very beginning of its journey. In the early days I was not only a home care nurse but also a fundraiser, collecting money to be able to continue running the service and to go towards building the unit.

"The ethos of St Peter's Hospice has always been about care, gentleness, love and understanding and that has not changed to this day. I still meet up with old colleagues and volunteers; it's like a little family. We still keep an interest in the hospice and get involved whenever we can.

"I always regard my time working with St Peter's Hospice as the most memorable and privileged of my career and looking back at how much involvement myself and the other original nurses had at the start I feel very proud."

Eileen Davies admitted the very first patient to the in-patient unit at Knowle in 1980. At the time the hospice had seven beds, a small nursing staff and medical support from local GPs.

Eileen said: "I very much enjoyed my time working as a sister at St Peter's Hospice. I was there from the very beginning, first fundraising in the late seventies to raise money for the in-patient unit and then working at the hospice itself from 1980.

"We had a wonderful team, which worked together to support each other as well as the patients and their families. The situation was not only shattering for the patients themselves but also their loved ones, so helping them was a big part of our job.

"When I think that I admitted the very first patient all those years ago it is unbelievable to think that it is now in its 35th year. I think the support we offered families really engendered support from the community which is why it is such a much-loved charity today."

Another supporter of the hospice George Ray offered his thanks to the charity by performing a song he wrote for his mum Sarah Lacey before she died aged 39. George, 21, from Bradley Stoke performed Time Goes By Far Too Quickly which he wrote with St Peter's Hospice music therapist Jane Lings, as a way to deal with his grief.

St Peter's Hospice began in 1977 when a community service was launched while funds were being raised to build the in-patient unit in Knowle, which was eventually opened in 1980.

In 1984 the Knowle Day Hospice was opened; it was initially open for one day per week but as demand for the service grew it gradually increased to five days.

Next the development of the education facility came and at the same time a significant expansion of the Knowle In-patient Unit was launched. A new extension was built to house 14 beds allowing the Day Hospice to be re-housed in the old In-patient unit.

Nine years later St Peter's was creating plans to open a second hospice to serve North Bristol. The Brentry Day Hospice opened in 1995 operating one day a week, gradually building to four days during 1996. The Hospice at Brentry became fully operational in September of 1998, complete with educational facilities providing support and training to professionals and volunteers.

A variety of special events took place in 2003 to mark the Hospice's 25th anniversary. The highlight of the year was a visit from HRH Earl of Wessex. Then again, in 2008, HRH Earl of Wessex revisited St Peter's to mark the 30th anniversary.

St Peter's Hospice now cares for more than 2,670 patients each year with life limiting illnesses and provides emotional and practical support for their families. Each year it costs £6.8 million to run the hospice with 77% of that coming from public support.

St Peter's Hospice CEO Simon Caraffi said: "St Peter's Hospice is loved by many in the city of Bristol and supported generously by all who come into contact with it.

"It is hard to find anyone who doesn't have a connection to the charity in one way or another, which means we have a fantastic network of people helping to raise awareness and funds for our cause.

"Being Bristol's only adult hospice we must raise over £6 million pounds every year to be able to continue supporting those in need.

"It is a testament to the amazing staff we have had over the years, that we are now in our 35th anniversary year. Everybody from the nurses to the volunteers give their all to make the lives of those with life-limiting illnesses and their families as enjoyable as possible.

"This year we aim to celebrate everything we have achieved over the years, from opening the new hospice at Brentry to launching our Hospice at Home service. We also wish to look ahead to the future where we have many more exciting plans in the pipeline.

"We hope people all over the city will join us in celebrating and remembering those we have helped along the way."

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