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18th May 2020

Heritage story: Allan Crabtree

Allan Crabtree volunteered in a public relations role from early 1980 to promote the new St Helena Hospice in the community, and continued to volunteer as a trustee on the council of management until 2008.

Before Allan died in February 2019, he recorded his memories for the St Helena Hospice heritage project.
Allan Crabtree


The very first time I heard the word ‘hospice’ was during a phone call from Liz, Dr Elizabeth Hall. She briefly explained what a hospice was and the intention to get one in Colchester, and she wanted him to join the steering group. 

Liz said it would only take a few months to help then I could slide off if I wanted to. That was a joke!

My particular job was public relations to try to get it off the ground. When I sat back and I looked at it I thought, well I’ve got no product and I’m trying to sell it to people! We were promoting something that didn’t exist.

We travelled around the county talking, talking, talking, spreading the word about the Hospice and getting it to be known.

I had good partners with the Standard and the Evening Gazette, who helped us along quite a lot with coverage in the newspapers.

I wanted to help achieve this because I would have liked a hospice to have been available for my young niece, but there wasn’t. Back then, once they decided you were terminal that was the end of you, you got crossed off the book, even though you hadn’t died.

There was a need. When I talked to people about how it would be nice if the person we loved was looked after, that got going really and it caught on.

Everyone was so friendly. It was a family really, a family which you began to grow into.

I think we made a nice little go of it. 

Allan Crabtree 1981

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

National Lottery Heritage Fund

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