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St John's Hospice History & Memories

Care, Compassion and Charity since 1986

Welcome to the St John’s Hospice History Project.
Researched and compiled by
Hospice Patron Dr Mike Warren, this online exhibition presents the history of YOUR local hospice. From the birth of the hospice movement in the 1970’s through the many challenges of the following decades up until the present day as St John’s looks to prepare itself to serve the community for another 40 years. Meet those who have worked to ensure care, compassion and support is freely provided all at end of life.

Throughout these pages you can also listen to specially recorded interviews with staff and volunteers past and present, as they recount their own personal experiences of St John’s Hospice. 

Born in Silverdale, Grown in Lancaster
1975 - 1985 

An embryonic service started and matured into an 8 – 10 bedded unit in St John of God Hospital, Silverdale. The St John of God Hospital had started its life as Hazelwood Hall, purchased by the Brothers of St John of God and subsequently sold to the Sisters of our Lady of Apostles. The upstairs ward was for patients convalescing from orthopaedic surgery, the downstairs ward was for patients with learning disabilities and those described as ‘needing long term nursing care’.

Modern palliative care began locally under the auspices of Sister John and GP Dr Mike Warren of the Stoneleigh practice in Milnthorpe providing medical cover. The arrival of Sister Callistus ,who was a gentle soul, worked happily in the background to develop the service. Dr Warren and Sister Callistus attended palliative and end of life courses to further improve patient care and develop connections in the hospice world.

Built by the people, for the people

Sister Aine and the Next Steps 

The Sisters and Dr Warren were working in the then prevailing attitude of “Nothing can  be done for the dying”, whilst knowing a lot more could be done.   

Sister Aine arrived and succeeded Sister John as matron. She liaised with local colleagues who were interested in developing a new purpose hospice  building for the region. The decision was then made to move the service from St John of God Hospital, Silverdale to a purpose built facility.    

In 1979 the Sisters agreed to take on the running of any such new unit with some support from the local Health Authority.  A trust was then established to launch an appeal for the new building costs. The first sod was cut in 1984 and the topping out was done by Sister Aine in 1985.    

The first patient was transferred by Dr Warren from Silverdale on December 5th, 1985, the second patient was admitted by another local GP, and more patients followed soon afterwards.  

The formal opening of St John’s Hospice, Lancaster was performed by Anne, Duchess of Norfolk on 8th January 1986. 

Click to explore...

Would you like to contribute?

Throughout this project we have recorded many voices that have contributed to many aspects of St John’s Hospice. But we know that this is just part of the picture and that this project is a continuing one. We would love to hear your history and memories of St John’s Hospice as well.
Please use the form below to comment or contribute or email Sophy Horner (Director of Marketing, Communications & Engagement) via email [email protected] - Thank you

History & Memories Contribution

Name(Required)
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Please describe your relationship with St John's. For example, have you been a member of staff or has a member of your family been cared for by us?
Please describe your memories of St John's Hospice here. You are also welcome to leave general comments on our History and Memories page.
If you would like to share photos or documents with us for possible inclusion on our History and Memories pages, please upload them here.
Drop files here or
Accepted file types: jpg, gif, png, pdf, doc, docx, jpeg, , Max. file size: 64 MB.

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