History of Eden Valley Hospice

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Eden Valley Hospice is a monument to the will of a community. 

This much-loved local charity, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, came into being thanks to the efforts of countless local people. 

Visionary individuals helped lead the way, buoyed by a groundswell of support, determination and action which reached right through the community – resulting in today’s high-quality facility for the care of adults and children with life limiting illness.

The need for a hospice in Carlisle was recognised in the 1970s but it was local woman Gill Melrose who lit the spark.

The death of a friend from cervical cancer aged 38 in 1985 pushed her into action. 

In her memories recorded for Eden Valley Hospice, she says, “Sadly Jean died on her own in a four bedded ward at the City General…I felt it was time something was done where terminally ill patients could die with dignity, respect and love all around them.”

Gill took to her ‘trusty typewriter’ and wrote letters to all 80 local GPs asking if they would back a hospice and 79 replied, all expressing support.

It was the beginning of a campaign which snowballed.

In 1986 the first public announcement of the plan was made in the Carlisle Gazette.   Gill remembers that soon afterwards she received a knock on her door. Rotary Carlisle said they would like to help.

The Carlisle and District Hospice Appeal was formally launched – and the people of north Cumbria responded.  

Gill recalled; “People would stop me in the street to give £1 here or £5 there. They recognised me and called across the street to ask what the latest bank balance was. Donations were sent to me through the post.”

Raffles, coffee mornings and little events mounted up. In five years Cumbrians raised £1m to build the hospice. 

Gifts were large and small. Jack Jones architects designed the building for free and Laing builders donated the land on Durdar Road, which had housed a brickworks. 

On 13 September 1991 builders Lambert Gill handed over the keys of the hospice to Peter Whitley, chair of the Hospice Management Committee.

Day patients were first, and the following year the hospice admitted its first in-patient, an 11-month-old baby. 

In 1992 the hospice had eight in-patient beds and could take 15 in day care. Six years later a children’s extension was opened for day care. 

As the newspaper at the heart of its local community The Cumberland News played its part, documenting and publicising every step of the hospice’s journey and campaigning to raise money. 

A Cumberland News appeal in 1993, Chance to Care, raised £60,000 to pay for one of four new in-patient rooms, bringing capacity up to 12 beds.

But more was needed to help terminally ill children. The Jigsaw Appeal was launched in 2005 igniting another huge community effort, and within two years £1m was raised to create the specialist children’s in-patient unit.

Today the hospice is among the most treasured and respected of charities.  

It survives and thrives thanks to the support of many local volunteers, and the generosity of countless ordinary people who fundraise and donate every year to keep it running.

Help Our Hospice appeal

The hospice needs to be back onto a secure footing following the pandemic which has devastated the charity’s income over the last 18 months.

The appeal is asking for 300 people to make a donation to the hospice in their wills.

Eden Valley Hospice costs £4m per year to run, of which 80 per cent must come from donations and charitable giving. 

Chief executive Trish Livsey says: “Our community fundraising events couldn’t go ahead, and we had to close our retail outlets. It has been a real challenge and the thing that has saved us was legacies.”

More legacies through wills will help secure the hospice for the long term, preventing crises from undermining its financial security again. 

You can help secure your hospice’s future by pledging to leave a gift in your will.

  • If you already have a Will you can ask your solicitor to ensure it includes a donation to the hospice
  • If you have yet to organise a Will now is the perfect time to make one and include Eden Valley Hospice as a beneficiary. You can either make a donation for a specific amount in your will or stipulate a percentage of your estate.
  • Find out more by contacting Karen Durden, Legacies Manager on 01228 817607 or email karen.durden@edenvalleyhospice.org for further information

Find out more at www.edenvalleyhospice.org/support-us/help-our-hospice. 

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