Princess Anne at the official opening of Springhill Hospice
This year marks 30 years since Springhill Hospice in Rochdale opened its doors. Since opening on 8 October 1989 the hospice has grown its services with an education suite, Day Hospice and Community Nursing Service. It also has a line of local retail shops, its own lottery and a café, “Coffee at the Craven”, all helping to support its important work.
Robert Clegg, Chair of the Board of Trustees at Springhill Hospice, has been part of the Springhill journey since its beginnings. Here he shares his memories of working with the hospice over the last three decades.
How did you become involved in Springhill?
In the early 1980s I was the Hospital Secretary at Birch Hill Hospital. I learned early of the plans to build a hospice for Rochdale. My boss at the time was Secretary of the Appeal Committee who founder Margaret Geoghegan had gathered together to raise the funds to build and equip this new facility. When he left in 1986 I took his place.
I wrote hundreds of letters to large charities seeking external funding and remember being really excited when a cheque for £25,000 arrived. Locally the Rochdale Observer took up the cause and encouraged people to fundraise and every week published a list of donations that had been receive.
Slowly but surely the £1.5 million needed to pay for the building, furnish and equip it, and the first three months running costs had been raised and the doors opened in October 1989.
What are your memories of the fundraising and events over the years?
We have been very lucky to employ some incredibly talented fundraisers each of whom have brought their own style to the job. We have hosted musical events, Last Night of the Proms, our Man and Woman of the Year events, Golf Days. There have been so many.
One event I particularly remember was watching people walking on hot coals on the car park at Rochdale Football Ground – I took my hat off to them – but did not take my shoes off! On a very personal note, winning the “Wit of Year” dinner in 1997 was very enjoyable- not winning the “Wit of Wits” in 2001 was less so.
What memories stand out to you from the last 30 years at the hospice?
There have been so many happy memories, some of the ones that stand out to me include the sod cutting in preparation for the building works right at the beginning of the hospice journey, along with the arrival of our first patients. The official opening by the Princess Royal was a very special event, as were the visits by the Duchess of Norfolk and later the Duchess of Gloucester who joined us for our 25th anniversary.
What are you most proud of from your time at the hospice?
I am proud of the fact that as a result of the work of Margaret Geoghegan we have been able for 30 years to provide a really good service for the people of Rochdale. I am truly proud to have been a member of a very large team of staff and volunteers that has made Springhill Hospice what it is today and to know what a massive difference we have made for literally thousands of our patients and their families in the last 30 years.
For more information visit Springhill Hospice