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18th May 2020

Heritage stories: Lisa Brenchley

Lisa Brenchley was the first patient to be admitted to St Helena Hospice. Lisa was only 22 years old and had been diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour 18 months previously.

Lisa’s father Brian remembers when her health rapidly deteriorated and she was offered a bed at the new nearby hospice:
Lisa, her dad Brian and sister Lyn with their dog

They were still finishing the place off. It was all very, very new. It was literally only just opened and they got her in right away.

My memories of first going into the hospice are a little vague. I do remember being aware that she would be the only patient there, wondering if she would be lonely.

My expectation was that it would be like a newly opened hospital, being very clinical and regimented. I could not have been more wrong!

Walking through the door was like entering into a well-appointed hotel, which was confirmed even more when my wife and I were the first to use the guest suite overnight before Lisa passed away.

We didn’t really know what to expect but as far as the hospice goes, they were brilliant. The nursing care we had there was incredible.

All the staff were so cheerful and helpful in making us feel at home. I remember Lisa the day before her last, making a small recovery, being very happy and laughing and joking with the staff. She seemed to have struck up a particular rapport with the chef!  

The homely atmosphere of the new hospice and relaxing gardens kept up the family’s morale. Lisa’s sister Lyn was 17 at the time and she recalls time spent together in Lisa’s room:


My memory of the hospice was how homely it felt and it didn’t have that ‘hospital’ feel.

We would brush Lisa’s hair, although she had lost most of it and she wore headscarves. I brought my nail care in and painted her nails for her.

When Lisa was taken into the hospice she was very poorly and she needed to be kept pain free. By then she slept mostly due to the medication but we still chatted to her and sat with her talking about what had happened in our day.

The staff were so kind and nothing was too much trouble. It all felt quite overwhelming especially for mum and dad after having Lisa at home. But I can honestly say it was a relief for us to know Lisa was so well cared for, and the staff also supported us as a family.

Mum and dad were offered a room to stay towards the end of Lisa’s life so they could be close to her.

I remember being able to walk around, to sit quietly in the family room. There was peace and calm everywhere. There were no visiting times so we could stay as long as we liked and we were offered food and drink. It was like being part of a big family.

Lisa’s name is still in the book of remembrance in the chapel for the date that she died; 29th May 1985.

Even after Lisa had passed away we were still supported for as long as we needed which was a great comfort. I had bereavement counselling several years later. The hospice will always be a part of our family and we continue to support it. 

Lisa, her sister Lyn and mum Shirley

St Helena Hospice Heritage Stories project supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund

National Lottery Heritage Fund

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