Celebrating 40 years of hospice care in Leeds

30th March 1982  The Princess of Wales chats to a patient at St. Gemma's Hospice, Leeds.
30th March 1982 The Princess of Wales chats to a patient at St. Gemma's Hospice, Leeds.
Have your say

STAFF and volunteers at St Gemma’s and Sue Ryder Wheatfields are preparing for commemorative and fundraising events to mark both Leeds hospices’ 40th anniversaries next year.

The two hospices have cared for a total of 90,000 patients since both opened in 1978 following generous donations from Leeds residents.

Wheatfields Hospice, Headingley,Leeds...SH1001361l..16th April 2014 Picture by Simon Hulme

Wheatfields Hospice, Headingley,Leeds...SH1001361l..16th April 2014 Picture by Simon Hulme

Forty years ago today, On October 12 1977, an appeal was launched at Leeds Town Hall to build support for St Gemma’s Private School in Moortown to be transformed into a hospice and day care facilities.
The founders of St Gemma’s, the Sisters of the Cross and Passion, were confident the people of Leeds would help raise the £1m needed to create and later expand the hospice’s services.

St Gemma’s opened as a nine-bed unit to its first patients in April 1978.

Former manor house Wheatfields Lodge in Headingley, which was built in 1859, was chosen by Leeds-born philanthropist Lady Sue Ryder as new premises for hospice care in Leeds.

After a Yorkshire Evening Post-backed public fundraising appeal, Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice was opened to patients in August 1978.

It now costs £25,000 a day to run St Gemma’s, which has 32 beds, 1.050 staff and volunteers and 23 hospice shops.

St Gemma’s has cared for 50,000 patients since it opened.

It costs £12,000 a day to run Sue Ryder Wheatfields, which has 18 beds, 271 staff and volunteers and eight hospice shops.

Sue Ryder Wheatfields has cared for a total of 40,000 patients.

In 1982, the Yorkshire Evening Post launched its Half and Half appeal to support both hospices. To date, the appeal has raised more than £2.96m.

In 2018, St Gemma’s Hospice will be marking its 40th Anniversary and commemorating the care it has provided.

It will also be celebrating the commitment of staff and volunteers and the public who generously donate and fundraise.
St Gemma’s is inviting people to attend ‘A Night to Remember’ at Leeds Town Hall on March 21 2018, which will include performances and speeches about the hospice’s work.

Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice is inviting local businesses to help them mark the milestone by joining their 40/40 Club.

The charity is hoping to enrol 40 businesses into the club, with a fundraising target of £1,000 each.

Paula Guanaria, senior fundraising manager at Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice, said: “Next year it’s going to be an exciting time for us celebrating our 40th anniversary with a series of events.
“The priceless support of our local businesses, our volunteers and the generous donations of the local community are vital to enable us to continue caring for people at a very vulnerable time of their life.

“I would like to thank our staff, volunteers and the local community for making this possible.”

Cath Miller, St Gemma’s director of nursing, said: ‘Our priority has always been and continues to be about providing expert, compassionate and individual care to people living with terminal illnesses.

“We help people live as actively as possible after diagnosis to the end of their lives. We not only take care of patients’ physical needs, we consider their emotional, spiritual and social needs too.

“And we support families and close friends, both during illness and in bereavement. I am proud to be part of an outstanding team at St Gemma’s and we are so thankful to have the ongoing support of the Leeds community.

“We quite simply would not be here without them.”

HOSPICES in Leeds are raising awareness and celebrating work done by staff during Hospice Care Week.

The awareness raising week - which started on Monday today - is celebrating the contribution of everyone involved in hospice care. To make a donation to Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice, call the fundraising team on 0113 278 7249, email wheatfields.fundraising@sueryder.org or visit www.sueryder.org/donate. To make a donation to St Gemma’s Hospice, call the fundraising team on 0113 218 5555, e mail fundraising@st-gemma.cvo.uk, or visit www.st-gemma.co.uk/onlinedonation