Day of events mark Rowcroft Hospice 40th Birthday
Rowcroft Hospice marked its 40th anniversary last Wednesday with a range of exciting events and the launch of a giant flag to celebrate the specialist care that the charity has provided to the communities of South Devon over four decades. Hundreds of people took part in the events to show their support, including representatives from local businesses, families who have received support from the hospice, volunteers and staff – past and present, members of the community and other supporters.
“This is a time to celebrate 40 years of making every day the best day possible for our patients and their families living with life-limiting illness in South Devon,” said Rowcroft Hospice CEO Mark Hawkins. “A time to reflect on the extraordinary stories of care – exemplary care that is taking place each and every minute, night and day, 365 days a year, enabling patients to live and die with dignity and comfort, in their own homes or here in our Inpatient Unit. This is also a time to say thank you – thank you to our amazing community for supporting us through our 40-year journey, and thank you to our incredible teams for caring so compassionately for tens of thousands of people over four decades.”
Celebratory events at the hospice included: the unveiling of a plaque and the cutting of a cake to pay tribute to the late Richard Brinsley of the Torquay Lions Club and others who helped to set up the hospice in the early 1980s; the impressive 40 Years of Care photo exhibition that featured informative displays about Rowcroft’s history as well as hundreds of photographs sent in by families of loved ones who have been cared for by the hospice; Open Garden days that included guided tours of the hospice grounds; corporate networking events with local businesses; cocktails and opera on the terrace for patients in the Inpatient Unit; tea parties for volunteers and staff past and present; and performances by Rock Choir.
Celebrity Georgia Toffolo (best known for appearing in Made in Chelsea, and winning ‘I’m a celebrity get me out of here’ in 2017) added her voice to the many endearing messages of congratulation via a special video posted on Rowcroft’s social media channels. She said:
“I would like to wish Rowcroft Hospice a very big happy birthday for its 40th anniversary. As someone who grew up in Torquay, I know what a beautiful place South Devon is and what a wonderful community it has, so huge congratulations on such an important milestone and being a brilliant part of the community.”
Kevin and Moira Dawe had travelled from County Londonderry in Northern Ireland to be part of the celebrations on Wednesday, by way of a special tribute to Kevin’s mum Doris who had been cared for by the hospice before she passed away in August 2020. Doris, who was born and bred in Torquay, shared her birthday – 4th May – with the hospice’s anniversary. It would have been Doris’ 90th birthday. Daughter-in-law Moira said:
“We’re ever so indebted to the great work that was done by the Rowcroft Hospice at Home team to support my mum-in-law through her final journey and to support us as well. It was difficult because it was a time of the pandemic, and it was a time of deep stress and concern. The Rowcroft staff were able to come in and offer us the emotional support we needed as well as supporting Doris as the patient going through end-of-life care. We found them inspirational in their care of Doris.”
As part of Rowcroft’s 40th anniversary celebrations, the hospice launched a giant anniversary flag that will be passed as a baton around the community and displayed at local businesses to thank everyone for supporting the hospice for 40 years.
“We’re looking for local businesses and venues to host our amazing flag,” said CEO Mark Hawkins. “For the rest of this year, the flag will be passed from venue to venue as a baton to celebrate Rowcroft’s 40 years of care for the people of South Devon. Please do get in touch if you or your business would like to host the flag as an inspirational gesture of solidarity with the hospice and our local community.”
Celebrations also took place in Rowcroft’s shops and cafes throughout the region. Special events included a fashion show in Bovey Tracey, an 80s themed party day in Wellswood, Torquay, a summer clothing preview evening in Dartmouth, an auction of an original canvas (‘Pink candy blossom’) by local artist Kay Smith, and a delicious high tea celebration at Ella’s in Rowcroft’s Churston boutique.
And festivities are continuing apace throughout the summer. Further Open Garden events are planned for the coming months with people across South Devon raising funds for the hospice by generously opening their own gardens for the public to explore and enjoy.
To find out more about Rowcroft’s Open Gardens events, please visit: www.rowcrofthospice.org.uk/opengardens. Or if your business is interested in hosting the hospice’s special anniversary flag, please contact Shala Weeks, [email protected]
From small beginnings in 1982, Rowcroft Hospice now provides expert care to more than 2000 people with life-limiting illnesses across South Devon each year. Rowcroft’s achievements over four decades include: providing expert care to thousands of patients in its Inpatient Unit; setting up and delivering the revered Hospice at Home service that each year provides specialist care to around 500 people in their last two weeks of life at home; the development of Rowcroft’s exceptional community services that include specialist nursing, complementary therapy, music therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social work, bereavement support and spiritual care; and the launch of Rowcroft’s award-winning education programme that offers online and face-to-face specialist training to health and social care professionals across South Devon and beyond.
Rowcroft Hospice takes its name from Ella Rowcroft who died in 1941 but not
before generously creating a trust – to ensure that the main house on her 22-acre Pilmuir estate in Torquay could continue to be used for the healthcare of the local South Devon community. From 1937, the house was used as a convalescent home for women and children suffering from tuberculosis or recovering from surgery, and it became a maternity unit during the Second World War. In later years, the house was a nursing home. Then in the early 1980s, the Torquay Lions Club was instrumental in the formation of Rowcroft Hospice when Richard Brinsley became chairman and took it upon himself to set up the hospice during his year in office.