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18th May 2020

Heritage stories: Mary Fairhead

Mary Fairhead, 90, volunteered to be part of the appeal committee tasked with raising enough money to start up St Helena Hospice.

Mary later became Mayor of Colchester and continued to volunteer as a Trustee on the Council of Management until 1997.
Mary Fairhead


I was involved in the first place because my mother had been very ill and died of cancer. It wasn’t at all nice. This was before they knew anything about hospices.

My best friend Joyce Brooks told me they had formed a committee to look at starting a hospice.

I was a Councillor at the time as well and I’d already done several appeals in the town, and they asked me if I would take on the job of appeal organiser. I was only too pleased to do it because I felt I was giving something from my mother who didn’t benefit from this.

We kept going with the appeal and started to look for premises. Elizabeth Hall, Joyce and I looked at several but they were all unsuitable and there wasn’t any ground with them.

And then one day something quite extraordinary, fate stepped in. I was on a site visit in High Woods to do with my role as a Councillor, and we had to walk from Mile End Road through a little lane to get there. I happened to look to my right and there was all this bramble and I could see a lovely old house amongst it. I couldn’t wait to get home to phone Joyce. I said I think I’ve found it!

We completely fell in love with the old house, it had a lovely atmosphere.

I feel very thankful it was fate that sent me down the lane that day and find the premises.

I loved being part of it and it meant a lot to me. A very happy time. 

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

National Lottery Heritage Fund

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