This year we’ve been celebrating 50 years since our Heald Green hospice opened, and The Princess Royal joined our staff, patients and volunteers as we marked the occasion. The Princess Royal was given a tour of the hospice, and unveiled a plaque and planted a special commemorative tree to mark the occasion.
We’d like to say a huge thank you to Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal for taking time in her busy schedule to come to St Ann’s. We were honoured to show her around our Heald Green site, and to introduce her to some of our patients and their families, staff and volunteers.
We’re hugely proud to have reached our 50th birthday, and it’s only thanks to the local community that we’ve been able to do that. That’s especially true over the last two years when we’ve all been working really hard to continue providing care throughout the pandemic. We’re providing a huge range of services to local people, whether via our inpatient units on our hospice sites, or virtually. We’re also caring for people in their own homes, or the place they call home, and I’m really proud of how we’ve adapted to continue doing that despite the challenges that have come with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been part of St Ann’s history over the last half a century, whether as patients, family members, staff, volunteers, or supporters. Whether it’s the support we receive from fundraisers who generously help us raise the £20,000 a day we need to keep our services running, the endless time our army of more than 700 local volunteers give to help staff and patients, or the businesses and health care professionals who collaborate with us in so many ways – we simply wouldn’t have been here for so long without them all.
There’s been so much going on to mark our magnificent milestone this year, from our special edition Manchester Virtual Walk, to our bloomingly brilliant garden at the Manchester Flower Show. From the incredibly moving art installation at the Trafford Centre made from a thousand metal forget-me-not flowers, to all of the individuals and groups joining us to take on a sporting challenge as part of our birthday year, we’ve been overwhelmed by the support and outpouring of love for our charity.
It’s so interesting looking back and reflecting on St Ann’s unique history and how privileged we have been, over the years, to have touched the lives of so many families. What’s interesting is that while hospice care changes and its breadth and ambition is probably unrecognisable to the care provided when the early hospices opened around half a century ago, the ethos of what we do remains the same. We always want to provide individualised, holistic care to our patients, and our overarching aim is to ensure they have the very best quality of life as possible. That hasn’t changed in almost half a century, and as we look ahead and evolve and develop our services for the future, we know that will always remain most important to us. Rachel McMillan, Chief Executive of St Ann’s
In 1967 Dame Cicely Saunders oversaw the creation of the UK’s first modern hospice, St Christopher’s Hospice in London. Around the same time, it was recognised that a hospice was needed in Manchester. Dr Moya Cole, from The Christie Hospital, informally approached the Bishop of Manchester, the Right Reverend Dr William Greer, asking if local churches would join together to set up a hospice.
Our hospice in Heald Green received its first patients on 17 May 1971. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, officially opened the hospice in June 1971.
We opened a second hospice site in Little Hulton which began receiving patients in 1979, and Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal came to officially open it in May that year.
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