Sue O’Neill was 26 when she moved from nursing on a surgical ward to a career in palliative care at the new Hospice. She was there on the day it opened and is currently matron of St Helena Hospice.

Nursing was always a passion of mine. I worked on a long ward and we’d be breaking bad news to them and their families in full view of everybody up and down the ward. The care and support and attention that those patients and their families needed wasn’t there at that time.

I had this deep enthusiasm that I needed to do more. I started to research care for the terminally ill and that’s what inspired me to apply to work at The Hospice. I was very young to be starting a career in palliative care but it was my passion.

I learned very quickly about listening to the patient; not to medicalise the illness and the diagnosis but to listen to them and their story. The Hospice offers an environment not just where the patient is supported, but their whole family is supported. So much of that work is important for their ongoing grief and bereavement.

I have been away and worked elsewhere in these 35 years but I returned to St Helena Hospice because that is my passion.

I was there on the very first day and I remember welcoming the very first patient. I remember clearly the first death we had there too. It was a very young lady, younger than me and I thought wow, the impact of that, she will never be my age.

I think we’ve grown as an organisation to support our staff and make sure we have some resilience to go on day after day caring for those who need us.

The very word ‘hospice’ to some people means pain, death, but it isn’t like that at all. Of course some people die there and some come in pain - physical pain and the emotional pain of what’s going to happen to them, that they’re going to leave their loved ones behind. But when they realise the support that we offer, it’s a different world. It’s almost as if we lift a burden from them, that we’re here to help and nothing is unsurmountable without the right support and help.

We can’t change the inevitable but we can change the way we respond to people. We listen to their stories and their concerns and support them through this difficult time.

When I walk around The Hospice I love hearing laughter, people having a joke, people dancing, sunlight, flowers, life.

Knowing that you make the difference to every day and knowing that as a team we’re all doing it together.

Listen to Sue on our podcast

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

Contact Information

To contact the St Helena Fundraising team, please telephone 01206 931 468 or email , 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.

The Hospice

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

Hospice in the Home

You can contact The Hospice in the Home Team Monday to Friday, between 9.00am and 5.00pm on:

Colchester/Halstead team
Telephone: 01206 845 566

Tendring community team
Telephone: 01255 221 222

Day Therapies

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

Human Resources

The HR Team can be contacted Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01206 931 466

Finance Team

To contact the St Helena Finance Team please telephone 01206 931 450 Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm

Volunteer Services Team

The Volunteer Services team can be contacted Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01206 931 466

Media Enquiries

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

Patient Referrals

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

Bereavement Support

To contact the St Helena Bereavement Support team please telephone the bereavement helpline: 01206 984 274, Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm

Learning and Development Centre

The Learning and Development Centre is open Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm and can be contacted on 01206 851 560

Service User Group

For more information on the St Helena Service User Group please contact Chair, Ken Aldred on 01206 751 397

Facilities Hire Enquiries

01206 851560


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.

Comment, compliment or complaint

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