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Hospice reaches 35 years

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Hospice reaches 35 years

As the Hospice reaches its 35th year this May, Joyce, the widow of our late founder Canon Richard Norburn, agrees that his vision of ensuring there is “something better” for people living with dying, death and grief is still going strong.

91-year-old Joyce is still actively involved in the Hospice which she and Richard and Reverend Sally Fogden founded in 1984, after Richard witnessed the suffering of three community members: an elderly lady with terminal cancer who had to go to an unsuitable nursing home because it was not possible for her daughter to nurse her at home; a farmer who was constantly in and out of hospital to have his medication monitored as his illness progressed or regressed; and a lady living in a council house being looked after by her disabled husband.

Joyce remembers the early days with fondness and is more than happy to lend her support to the Hospice’s future strategy. Joyce reflects on her and Richard’s first “groundbreaking” visit to a hospice in the West Midlands. She said: “We visited the hospice to see how it worked and we both left thinking, well, if they can do it we can do the same here.”

In 1984, Turret Close in Bury St Edmunds opened as a day centre providing clinical care and a place for people to socialise. “It was a cheerful and welcoming place with a garden and a physiotherapist and we always tried to be positive. I think it is still as important as it was 35 years ago that people are not alone, that they have somewhere to go, and someone to share their anxieties over treatment, family and health with.”

In 1992, after a £2.5 million fundraising appeal, the Hospice moved from Turret Close to its current site in Hardwick Lane, where Joyce continued to volunteer in the Orchard Day Centre for 10 years.

In the past 35 years the Hospice has grown from Richard’s vision to a respected and much-loved local charity with 671 volunteers and 203 staff, who provide care and support to 2,500 people a year.

Joyce says Richard would have approved of the Hospice’s strategy of building a compassionate community. She said: “Richard was very keen that people’s compassion wasn’t lost as the Hospice developed over the years. This came out of his Christian belief of compassion for all people of faith or non-faith.”

Turret Close was open three days a week, we didn’t have a kitchen and had to buy Marks and Spencer ready meals for our visitors. We gave people the opportunity to get out of the house and socialise in a friendly atmosphere.