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Max Milburn, MBE

As St Nicholas Hospice Care marks its 40th anniversary, we are celebrating this milestone by showcasing the immense contributions of our founders, supporters, fundraisers, staff and volunteers.

Max Milburn, MBE, supported the Hospice by chairing a Special Events Committee for around 25-30 years. His contributions were recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List in December 2020 when he was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) at the age of 82 years.

Three years on, and in the Hospice’s 40th milestone year, Max recounts his fundraising experiences and his relationship with its founders, especially Lady Miriam Hubbard.

“Lady Miriam was an incredible woman with boundless energy!”

Max had been fundraising on a voluntary basis for several decades before he started supporting St Nic’s in 1988.  It was during the days of Turret Close when new purpose built premises were being considered.  “It was very, very much in its infancy when I came in.”  He continues, “Lady Miriam was extremely persuasive. 

It wasn’t long before she took me to a meeting at Boxted Hall, where she had gathered some of her friends, many of whom were among the aristocracy of Suffolk.  Miriam was the sister of the Duke of Norfolk, with good connections!”

“It all started with raising monies for Turret Close”

Max recounts: “It was the beginning of car boot sales, and many gentry were holding posh sales from their cars. Everybody got very excited about the idea, and at the end of the meeting, somebody said, ‘Well, who’s going to run it? Who’s going to organise it?’  Lady Miriam was quick to volunteer me.  It would have been churlish to refuse!”

At the time when St Nic’s was in its early days, the founding members, such as Revd. Richard Norburn, Canon Sally Fogden MBE and Lady Miriam Hubbard were not only looking to source funds for the Hospice to have a building of its own, but they were also looking for supporters, fundraisers and staff who could run it.  Roger Curtis was employed as the Fundraising Officer.

“We didn’t have a car boot sale…it became a little grander than that.”

The posh car boot sale didn’t actually take place.  Max says: “The initial fundraising event became a little grander than that.  We wrote to the great and the good of Suffolk, asking them to empty their attics.  We gathered a lot of valuable items and organised a big lunch in the grounds of Boxted Hall.  John Wolton, who was then a well-known local auctioneer, auctioned the gifts to paying guests, and we raised a significant amount of money.  This is what got us going.”

This auction event not only turned out to be a successful fundraising event, but it had done something else: it had started to build a momentum of raising funds on a higher financial scale through social events.  Max says “The people who were in the room that day, who had volunteered to help, said after the event how much they enjoyed doing it and ‘we should think of something else.’  We must have held 3 or 4 events a year after that.”

“We became an integral part of the Hospice”

Even though the Special Events Committee worked voluntarily, it was always closely connected to the Hospice, especially after the new Hospice was built in its current location.

Max recalls: “We would always meet in what was known as the ‘Committee Room’.  We had a direct link with the Fundraising Officer, and we were able to use the equipment and the facilities of the Hospice.  We were very much an integral part of the Hospice and we called ourselves the ‘Special Events Committee.’  There were times when the Committee would probably constitute around 14 or 15 people; a lot of them have sadly now passed away.” 

“It created a lot of friendships amongst the committee and produced events which people really looked forward to.”

If there’s one thing that’s common across all these stories is the cultivation of friendships that are strong, loyal and have lasted for many, many years. The events organised by this committee brought about a lot of volunteering.

Max regales “We finished up getting an enormous amount of support from people who could provide suitable facilities.  People would very kindly offer their houses or their grounds.  We didn’t need to hire caterers, we could do all that ourselves and, quite often, we could cadge the wine.  With virtually no overheads, I think we were a pretty formidable bunch!”

He says: “We had a really loyal group of supporters.  Whether it’d be a lecture, cookery demonstration, concerts, or operas.  We even held big events in the cathedral.  On one occasion, the Princess Royal came with Andrew Motion, the Poet Laureate.”

Max has a great deal of affection and regard for Lady Miriam Hubbard and her outstanding contribution towards establishing the Hospice as a proper organisation.

He says: “She wasn’t fazed by anything.  Lady Miriam’s untimely death was terribly tragic. The funeral was a really big affair at the Catholic Church.  Her legacy is forever deeply rooted in the hospice.”

“We took the ‘d’ out of fundraising!”

Over time, changes took place within the structure of the Special Events Committee.  The more elderly members became less able to contribute as much and younger people joined us.  

Max recalls: “There was a stage when the original Committee, having tailed off a bit, needed some new recruits.  The owner of the Angel Hotel, Mrs Gough, said ‘Well, you can have free use of the ballroom to arrange a meeting.’  We had the meeting there, and I remember the slogan that I was putting out was: Please come and join us and together, we shall take the ‘d’ out of ‘fundraising’… And we certainly did!   The fundraising aspect wasn’t the be-all and end-all.  It was always fun along the way.  Committee meetings were often hilarious.  The events were always successful.  We rarely had anybody complain about anything. The functions were always well received. The happier we made them, the more generous the donations!”

Things may have changed, but Max has high praise for ‘The Girls Night Out’ and similar community events, which are phenomenally successful.  “We were always ‘out-house’, so to speak, although we always had strong links with the managers.  We weren’t directly part of the establishment, but we were integral to it.  We did it all without any kind of pressure but we did it for our own pleasure and our own fun.  Our supporters were incredibly helpful and generous!”

 “We enjoyed an immense amount of goodwill”

“There are some beautiful houses in Suffolk,” says Max, “and quite a few owners were very willing to open them up and allow us to host these events.”  He says: “We enjoyed a lot of generosity, and I think the Hospice has always enjoyed an immense amount of goodwill, which was probably engendered by Lady Miriam.  I did my best to foster it.”

“Unbeknown to me, a group of friends had been working secretly to get me an award.”

As mentioned earlier, Max was awarded an MBE for his contributions in raising funds for St Nicholas Hospice Care over several decades.

Max chose to receive his award to be presented locally by the Lord Lieutenant. “This appealed to me much more.  Lady Euston is a good friend and supported me so much during my halcyon days of fundraising.  A lot of what we achieved was done with her help.

“She was the one who got the Royal Family on board. I was absolutely delighted to receive my medal.”

“Feedback about the Hospice has always been immensely positive”

While Max has been less involved with the Hospice lately, he certainly likes to stay updated.  He says: “It all started with the enthusiasm of people like Sally Fogden, Reverend Norburn and Lady Miriam Hubbard.  They were the ones who had the initial concept, which we took on board and supported it in our own way.  It is now an established part of the town’s fabric and much loved and respected.”


Do you have a story about your connection with St Nicholas Hospice Care?


In our 40th year celebration, we want to highlight the many contributions in our Hospice’s history.

We’re aiming to proudly feature 40 faces across the year, could you be someone who has a story to share?

If you are someone who has a fond memory to share, you can do so here.