In February 2007 volunteers Sadie Hardisty, Anne Parrini, Anne McGladdery and Daisy Johnson came together to share their memories about the people who helped to establish Eden Valley Hospice in the early 1990s.
Margaret was the first hospice Matron. Margaret came to Eden Valley Hospice from a hospice in Newcastle where she was the deputy matron, she had also worked as a District Nurse. Margaret brought with her lots of different ideas and encouraged everyone to become involved with fundraising.
Margaret was quite an imposing lady, standing at just over 6 feet tall. Margaret moved into the hospice before its completion with her dog Pascoe to oversee the initial setting up.
Margaret was a lady who treated everyone, whether staff, volunteer or patient the same and would always make time for people if they needed to talk. Margaret commanded respect and did not stand for any nonsense. She had a rule that if you were upset about a situation ‘Find someone, get a cup of tea, and talk about it’.
The patients came first with Margaret and staff and volunteers were trained to give 100% to patient care.
Margaret became ill with cancer and died in the hospice. When she received her diagnosis she told the staff and volunteers what stage her cancer was at and shared her feelings with them, so that they could understand some of the emotions that their patients would be going through. When a volunteer said to Margaret ‘Why you?’ She responded with ‘Why not me?’
One of our volunteers sums Margaret up with the words "You know, she was just one of those people who will always stick in your mind…"
Peter and Margaret Whitley
Peter was the chairman at Carrs Biscuit works (now McVities factory) at Caldewgate, Carlisle. He and his wife were heavily involved in setting up a fundraising committee. At the start is was very much a cottage industry with a group of people coming together to raise funds in as many different ways as possible.
Once a model of the proposed hospice had been built, Peter and Margaret would take it to various talks. This helped to raise the awareness of the need for a hospice and for people to actually visualise what it would look like.
Margaret took over a unit in the Kennedy Centre, Lonsdale Street Carlisle in September 1987 and started the first Eden Valley Hospice Charity Shop, staffed totally with volunteers.
Four San Friscan nuns helped at the hospice during the early years and they are all fondly remembered. They shared a house in Carlisle and had a terrific work ethic and passion for patient care. They all had different role within the Hospice and their names are as follows.
- Sister Bernadette - Had responsibility for administration and reception. She was a very busy lady but would always make time for people if they needed to talk
- Sister Carol – Ward sister Was in charge of patient care
- Sister Agnes – Staff Nurse Sister Agnes is now in the process of setting up and running a Hospice in Zambia
- Sister Pat
You can read more about The Nuns and Sr. Bernadettes memories of the hospice here.
The Children’s Unit
One of the first patients admitted to the new in-patient unit was a child. Sister Carol went out and bought items that would appeal to children and drew free hand paintings around the room. When it was decided to build a children’s unit, Margaret Dunne was heavily involved in raising the additional funds needed. She died before the unit was completed but in her honour, it was named the Margaret Dunne Unit.
Lots of people volunteered their time, some to help in the shop, others to fundraise and as the hospice neared completion, volunteers helped to get the gardens in order. Other volunteers helped with painting, making bedding and curtains and pulling together to make sure the hospice opened on time. There was a real sense of team spirit and working together.
Volunteer induction took place over a 6-week period. Volunteers were asked to look at the 12 things most important to them and then look at those 12 things through the eyes of someone with an incurable of life limiting illness. It was very thought provoking and gave the volunteers an insight as to their own priorities.