Our history

We were founded in 1971 and have been caring for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their loved ones ever since.

The modern hospice movement

The modern hospice movement is relatively new – and is one of the UK’s great success stories. Through a friendship she struck up with a patient, a trained nurse, Cicely Saunders, saw that society needed a better place to care for terminally ill people. The patient had spent the last two months of his life on a surgical ward, simply because there was no other place for him to go.

In 1967, Saunders (who later became Dame Cicely Saunders) oversaw the creation of the UK’s first modern hospice: St Christopher’s Hospice in London. St Christopher’s Hospice provided physical, emotional and spiritual care for dying people – and operated as a teaching and research facility.

The creation of St Ann’s Hospice

Around the same time, it was recognised that a hospice was needed in Manchester. In 1967, 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.

Raising the funds

It took the considerable effort of dedicated volunteers to raise the funds needed to build the hospice. An appeal for £250,000 was launched and Manchester’s community took the cause to its heart. Early fundraising initiatives included Granada Television’s offer in 1970 to open their Coronation Street outdoor street set to viewers on Bank Holiday weekends. Visitors were invited to donate a 10p ‘admission fee’ to walk the famous cobbled street, which brought in £3,000 for St Ann’s.

Opening St Ann’s Hospice

St Ann’s 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.

St Ann’s Hospice grows to three sites

The need for a hospice in Greater Manchester was shown by fast uptake of its services. It quickly became clear that expansion was needed, and, in 1975, planning began for a second hospice in the City of Salford to extend care across North Manchester. In 1979, with the tremendous support of the Greater Manchester community, the appeal reached its target of £600,000. The first patients were welcomed at the Little Hulton site on 9 April 1979 and, continuing the royal tradition, Her Royal Highness Princess Anne officially opened the hospice a month later.

St Ann’s Hospice adopted the running of the Neil Cliffe Centre in 1998. The Centre was founded by local businessman Neil Cliffe, who realised he had nowhere to get support when he had cancer. After an extensive fundraising appeal, including a ‘Buy a Brick’ campaign, the centre was opened and its work continues today, providing support and rehabilitation for patients right through their illness – from diagnosis, through treatment, and afterwards too.

Today, our three sites – the Neil Cliffe Centre, St Ann’s Hospice Heald Green and St Ann’s Hospice Little Hulton – provide a complete range of care for both patients and their families. This care is based on the simple idea that a person who has a life-limiting illness or is dying – is still very much a living person, with unique physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs.