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2017: A year in review

Author: Leila Hawkins
22 December 2017
  • Gloria Hunniford and Merrill Powell at Hospice UK's gala dinner
  • L-R: Hospice UK's Director of Income Generation Catherine Bosworth, Dame Siân Phillips and Richenda Carey at Hospice UK's Christmas carol service
  • Choirs With Purpose
  • Dame Joan Bakewell speaking at Hospice UK's National Conference 2017

2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the modern hospice movement. In 1967 Dame Cicely Saunders founded St Christopher’s Hospice in Sydenham, establishing the practice of palliative care that is now known to be essential to patients’ wellbeing at the end of life. ehospice looks back at an eventful year for the hospice sector.

Raising funds

One of the first initiatives of the year to celebrate this important anniversary was Hospice UK’s launch of ‘Taste’, a cookbook with recipes for comfort food, cakes and aperitifs. Recipes were contributed by the charity’s supporters including celebrities Michael Caine, Dale Winton, Carol Vorderman, and Zandra Rhodes CBE, and 100 per cent of the profits from every book sold goes towards the work of the charity.

April’s Virgin Money London Marathon had 170 runners who raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for Hospice UK, while runners fundraising for 42 individual hospices also took part.

A new initiative between Hospice UK and Clydesdale Bank saw the auction of bank notes on eBay raise over £50,000. A limited number of £10 notes were listed on the site, the most popular becoming the note with the serial number 250159, the birthdate of poet Robert Burns which went for £172.

Ten choirs from around the UK including the newly formed UK Hospices Choir – formed by patients, relatives, staff and volunteers of 45 hospices - formed a group called Choirs With Purpose, who recorded an album of songs celebrating peace and unity as a response to the devastating incidents that took place this year. ‘Stand Together’ was released on December 15, with lead single ‘We All Stand Together’ - originally a hit by Sir Paul McCartney – featuring vocals by Pop Idol winner Michelle McManus. All profits from sales will be divided equally between the ten choirs involved or their nominated charities.

On the campaign trail

Dying Matters Week in May had the theme ‘What Can You Do?’ aiming to get people thinking about plans for the end of life. A wide variety of events took place around the country, including Death Cafes, legal advice sessions, cultural festivals and tours of crematoriums. 

In July Hospice UK launched Open Up Hospice Care, a campaign to tackle the statistic of one in four families in the UK not getting the end of life care they need, and raising awareness about hospice care being available to all people, regardless of who they are, their sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability or condition. Many hospices got on board and shared stories with the press and on social media.  

During Hospice Care Week in October, hospices and their shops displayed banners and flyers with the slogan ‘We Are Hospice Care.’ The campaign shone a spotlight on the tremendous breadth of services available to patients and their families in hospices.

Outstanding achievements

Throughout the year ten hospices achieved the “outstanding” rating from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the top rating possible from the independent regulator. A report they published also found that hospices offer more outstanding care than any other service they regulate.

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) awards, sponsored by Hospice UK and Marie Curie, took place in May, and three hospices were nominated in the Palliative & Hospice Team of the Year category: St Helena Hospice in Essex for their My Care Choices programme, a secure register that contains details of people’s preferences for end of life care, St Nicholas Hospice Care in Suffolk for their work promoting cornea donations, and Cornwall Hospice Care for their Area Prescribing Group scheme, which reviews and advises on medication.

Volunteers at Rennie Grove Hospice in Hertfordshire received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in June, and there were many recognitions in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Among them were Professor David Clark, one of Hospice UK’s Vice Presidents awarded an OBE for services to education and research into palliative care, Kathleen Hartshorne, volunteer at Severn Hospice in Shrewsbury awarded an MBE for services to the community and who, at the age of 90 is one of the oldest recipients of the title, and Loraine Midda, recipient of an MBE for parliamentary and voluntary services and her longstanding support to Haven House Children’s Hospice in east London.

Organisational changes

Professor Max Watson, an eminent palliative care clinician, joined Hospice UK’s clinical team in May to lead the charity’s work on Project ECHO. This project is a lifelong learning and guided practice model that revolutionises medical education and clinical team support.

In July Hospice UK and The National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) merged, a landmark move aimed at extending the reach of quality hospice care for it to be delivered in any setting, and to further tackle inequality.


Another event that honoured the 50th anniversary was the glittering gala dinner hosted by Hospice UK at the Savoy Hotel in London in May, attended by celebrity guests including Gloria Hunniford and Downton Abbey script writer Lord Julian Fellowes. Guests, who included influential people from business, politics and the arts, enjoyed a champagne reception followed by a four course meal and dancing.

This year was also the 90th birthday of the National Garden Scheme (NGS). NGS has supported Hospice UK since 1996, donating over £4.5 million to hospice care to date. During their anniversary weekend in May, they opened 370 gardens to the public, and numerous tours and other events took place throughout the year.

Hospice UK’s National Conference with the theme ‘Leading, Learning and Innovating’ took place in November in Liverpool, with three days of thought-provoking sessions ranging from Dame Joan Bakewell’s moving talk on having frank discussions about death, to  Andy Lowndes’ talk on the powerful impact of music on people with dementia.

The charity also hosted its first ever Christmas carol service in December at St Luke’s Church in Chelsea, London. Readers included Lord Julian Fellowes and Dame Sian Phillips DBE, with singing from tenor David Webb.

ehospice is on holiday until Thursday January 4

See more articles in People and places

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