Today is a very special day in the history of St Barnabas House hospice as it is exactly 50 years since we officially launched our first-ever capital appeal to build the original hospice on Columbia Drive.
The St Barnabas Appeal, as it was called, aimed to raise £100,000 to build a facility to accommodate 30 patients with life-limiting illnesses, although the cost eventually rose to £183,107.
The appeal was launched at a public meeting at Worthing Assembly Hall on Friday, March 29, 1968, chaired by Dr Francis Gusterson who later became the hospice’s first medical director.
Dr Gusterson was an inspirational man and without him St Barnabas House would likely not exist in the same way that it does today.
The official launch of the St Barnabas Appeal was attended by a number of important local figures, as well as Dame Cicely Saunders, widely recognised as being the founder of the hospice movement.
The meeting took place just a few months after St Christopher’s Hospice in Sydenham, the first hospice, opened its doors to patients.
Dame Saunders described caring for people in advanced stages of illness as being incredibly satisfying work, not sad or depressing.
She also spoke about the importance of hospices providing relief from pain and distress, comfort and compassion, words which still ring true today.
Of course, St Barnabas House has changed a huge amount since our doors first opened in 1973, and seven years ago we relocated to a new state-of-the-art building on Titnore Lane.
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