A public meeting was held in front of 140 members of the public at Colchester Town Hall in July 1979, bringing together a steering committee of health and social care people with the finance and legal expertise needed to get the project off the ground.
It took 6 years of fundraising, planning and construction before the hospice building opened its doors for the first time.
Dr Elizabeth Hall was the hospice’s first medical director in 1984 and had been driving the appeal committee to fund the hospice since 1979. Dr E, as she was fondly known by patients, staff and volunteers, remembers:
“I’d gone all over the country looking at different hospices, looking at what I thought was good practice, and wherever I went, people were telling me ‘I feel so safe here’. After we opened I thought, I wonder how long it’s going to be before somebody says that of us. And it was within 48 hours, which was wonderful.
“But we were still fighting the concept that you go there to die. I always echo Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern hospice movement, that you go to a hospice to live until you die. The whole idea of helping people live until their last breath and for the family to be involved and supported, all this time later is still something that people don’t realise until they’ve actually experienced it.
“So there we were with the first few people being admitted and I always remember it was like living in a fog because I was learning on the hoof as well. I started to find people were coming in looking awful and then within 24/48 hours they were sitting up, they weren’t feeling so sick, and they were feeling out of pain.
“The nurses and all the people were just amazing; they were just ready to learn, to try – that was the thing, you could try with various things, very often non-medical things. The difference was looking at the patient holistically and the inclusion of the family; the needs of everybody.”
Stories of people involved with St Helena Hospice at its very beginning are being recorded and preserved, along with historic photographs and film clips, for an exhibition and an online archive project supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to National Lottery players.
To share your story and photos, in the first instance email email@example.com or call St Helena Hospice’s marketing team on 01206 931 464, for information on how to contribute to the project.
To contact the St Helena Fundraising team, please telephone 01206 931 468 or email firstname.lastname@example.org , Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm.
To contact the St Helena Retail team, for enquiries about our shops, donation centre and house clearance service please telephone 01206 890 165.
24 hour advice: SinglePoint 01206 890 360
SinglePoint is a 24/7 advice and support helpline which helps to coordinate an individual’s care with the hospice. SinglePoint also works alongside other healthcare services such as GPs, Community Nurses or Specialists.
To contact a patient at The Hospice please find the address and telephone number below. Phone calls can be made to patients at any time of the day or week. You can contact Inpatient Services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Hospice, Myland Hall, Barncroft Close, Highwoods, Colchester, C04 9JU
Telephone: 01206 845 566
You can contact The Hospice in the Home Team Monday to Friday, between 9.00am and 5.00pm on:
Telephone: 01206 845 566
Tendring community team
Telephone: 01255 221 222
You can contact the Joan Tomkins Centre (Colchester) Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on:
Telephone: 01206 848 163
Fax: 01206 752 245
You can contact the St Helena Tendring Centre (Clacton) Monday to Friday, between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01255 221 222
Tendring Centre Postcode for Sat Navs: CO15 1EU
The HR Team can be contacted Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01206 931 466
To contact the St Helena Finance Team please telephone 01206 931 450 Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm
The Volunteer Services team can be contacted Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01206 931 466
For all media enquiries between 9.00am and 5.00pm, Monday to Friday, please phone the Marketing and Communications team directly on 01206 931 464
If you, or a member of your family has a life-limiting illness and would like to discuss whether St Helena care services can help, you can contact the SinglePoint telephone service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 01206 890 360
To contact the St Helena Bereavement Support team please telephone the bereavement helpline: 01206 984 274, Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm
The Learning and Development Centre is open Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm and can be contacted on 01206 851 560
For more information on the St Helena Service User Group please contact Chair, Ken Aldred on 01206 751 397
To contact the Lottery team please call 0800 285 1390 or visit the website here, Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.
If you would like to write to or visit the Lottery team, the address is: Your Hospice Lottery Office Unit 6 The Atrium, Phoenix Square, Wyncolls Road, Colchester CO4 9AS.
Feedback, comments and complaints about St Helena care and support services may be made verbally or in writing to: Director of Care, St Helena, Myland Hall, Barncroft Close, Highwoods, Colchester, CO4 9JU. To speak to a member of our team, call 01206 845 566