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Barbara and Des Gardiner

Barbara and Des Gardiner are among St Nicholas Hospice Care’s earliest supporters, in fact from the very beginning the pair were keen to be involved.

This is their story, told by the oldest of their five children Michael Gardiner. We’d like to thank Barbara and Des’ family for allowing us to share their story.

“Our parents, Barbara and Des Gardiner settled in Sudbury in the early 1960s. Close links with St Gregory’s Church meant they knew Richard Norburn (the Hospice’s Founder) well, as he was the Rector there. Life experience meant they both identified with the importance of end-of-life care. Thus, when in the 1980s Richard began the St Nicholas Hospice Care (SNHC) project, they were keen to be involved from the very start. By that time, we five children had grown up, so there was time and energy available.

“Mum was President of Sudbury Soroptimists and in 1984 SNHC was chosen as the Branch’s charity for the year. She also took on the role of Events Co-ordinator and later Sudbury Fundraising Support Team Co-ordinator, which saw her typing and circulating updates and a Quarterly Newsletter, copies of which still survive along with her SNHC Scrapbook.

“We can’t recall a time after that when Mum and Dad didn’t have at least one SNHC fundraising project on the go. These varied from Street Collections (Dad had a reputation and great skill in attracting donations) to cake, bottle and tombola stalls, coffee mornings, draws and raffles, helping at the fun run, organising games and stalls at fairs and fetes, selling everything from ‘bricks’ to tea towels, and opening their home for garden parties. Their many good friends would be encouraged to participate in all this, with our growing family recruited to help in many roles.

“We can recall their enthusiasm at the prospect of the SNHC Shop opening in Sudbury (the charity’s second one) and in 1989 this came to fruition. Dad helped paint the shop and Mum helped with stock and staffing. A couple of years later Mum was busy putting together and setting up an SNHC display for National Volunteers Week.

“Their excitement was clear when the SNHC building opened in 1992 and the following year when they attended the official opening by Diana, Princess of Wales. On that day I was also privileged to meet HRH at my workplace and show her our ‘The Meaning of Life’ project, so we understood what the ‘Royal Magic’ meant.

“Sadly, we lost Dad suddenly in 2000, however, Mum carried on with her fundraising and promotion of SNHC as long as she was able. Having spent the last two years of her life in the loving care of St Joseph’s Care Home, Sudbury, Mum passed away recently at the age of 94.”