Around 200 people returned to the roots of Weston Hospicecare on Tuesday to celebrate the charity’s 30th anniversary with a thanksgiving service.

The hospice was formed in 1989 as the result of the hard work and vision of a team of volunteers linked to Christ Church in Montpelier.

It was formally launched with the opening of a small office in 1989, a first shop in 1990, and the recruitment of two nurses later that year.

Three decades on, and the hospice has evolved substantially from those humble beginnings, but continues to be run with the same core value of providing expert, compassionate and inclusive care to people with life-limiting illnesses.

A number of the hospice’s founders joined past and present staff, volunteers, patients and families at Christ Church on Tuesday to celebrate the hospice’s 30-year story.

The service was led by hospice chaplain Karen Murphy, and saw founder members Rev Geoff Hobden and Rev Pam Pembro recount the story of the hospice’s early days, and current chief executive Paul Winspear speak of hopes and ambitions for the hospice’s future.

The event also included video interviews with hospice patients and volunteers, and uplifting music from Churchill Academy’s Youthful Spirit Gospel Choir.

Karen said: “This celebration event for the hospice’s 30th anniversary was an opportunity for people connected with our work for many years, and more recently, to gather together in thanksgiving for the continuing services we offer to our community.

“We were shown a comprehensive video of the range of the hospice’s work with patients, families and in the wider community through our shops which illustrated just how large an operation the hospice is.

“In a moving video including patient interviews, one patient responded to the question ‘What does the hospice mean to you?’ He spoke of the support, kindness and compassion he has been shown while attending day hospice. His words echoed the theme of the service and the emphasis on our core beliefs which underpin our whole ethos for hospicecare.”

The event was attended by a host of local dignitaries, including Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset’s representative, the Mayor and Mayoress of Weston, and by the Mayor and Mayoress of Burnham and Highbridge.

And Paul added: “Thank you to everyone this wonderful service of thanksgiving to mark our 30th anniversary year. Numerous people have commented how much they enjoyed it, how well it portrayed the hospice, that they found it uplifting and inspiring.

“We heard about the past, present and future of Weston Hospicecare and many of us learned facts and details for the first time about how the hospice was born, as recounted by Rev Geoff Hobden and Rev Pam Pembro.

“Thank you to all the staff and volunteers who helped make the evening a success. It was a fitting occasion to mark our 30th birthday year, and wholly appropriate to go back to Christ Church where it all began.”

Chief executive Paul Winspear outlined ambitions for the hospice’s future.
Rev Geoff Hobden was involved in the hospice launch.
Chair of trustees Judi Driscoll (right) was among those to speak at the service.
Visitors were invited to share their impressions of the hospices by creating a poignant display of pebbles.
A 30th anniversary cake is cut as part of the celebrations.
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