Former staff nurse and volunteer, Sara O’Brien, and her family, have a connection to St Ann’s that spans over five decades.
She said: “St Ann’s means so much to us and over the years we’ve been grateful to experience the services and to work for and support the hospice wherever we can.”
Sara’s aunt, Margaret, began volunteering as a physiotherapist when we first opened our doors 50 years ago, and in the years that followed, St Ann’s continued to be part of their family with relatives being cared for by our staff.
Sara’s mum, Molly, was an inpatient after a short illness before she died, and it was during her stay that Molly encouraged Sara to become a staff nurse. Despite the sadness of Molly’s death, one of the fondest memories Sara has is from that day.
Back then, when a patient died, everyone would gather around the bed and say a prayer. When my mother died, the word soon spread and my mother’s room was stuffed with people saying their prayers to send her on her way. My brother and I couldn’t speak, but it was the most inspiring time and made a huge impact on us both as well as helping us feel connected to our sister who was living abroad. Sara O'Brien
The care Molly received and the experience from their time at St Ann’s inspired Sara and her brother Tony, to join the hospice in various roles, with Sara taking her place on the ward and Tony joining, first in the management team and then as a trustee.
Sara said: “We were so grateful for what the hospice had done and we wanted to give back.”
Throughout the years, St Ann’s continued to weave into their lives with both Sara and Tony’s children actively being part of the hospice. Sara’s daughter Liz, is a Consultant in Palliative Medicine and part of the on call medical team at St Ann’s. At the age of 13, Liz had been inspired by the hospice, taking on a school project about our work which was re-discovered recently during a house move.
St Ann’s has played a part in our lives for so many years in various ways – it has been amazing to find my old project from 34 years ago – the care and compassion remains. Looking at the layout of the hospice from then and the exciting changes ahead for St Ann’s, it is amazing to think what the projects of the future will hold. Liz O'Brien
Tony’s daughter, Nikki, continues to support us, having previously put her golfing skills to the test when leading a team in our annual Golf Day fundraiser. In 2013, Fintan, who was Liz’s dad, was cared for by St Ann’s too.
Liz said: “ The St Ann’s team provided the time and space for me to be his daughter not his doctor as they provided symptom support and care for my dad after his cancer diagnosis until his death. My colleagues here supported us all and I trusted them to care for my dad exactly as they do for all patients.