A short History of St. Rocco's

17/11/2021

Ever wondered how St. Rocco's came into being all those years ago. Read our short history to find out.

In 1978 Dr Michael Thomas, a local G.P. realised there was a need for a hospice. However, it was not until 1982 that the charity was formed. By 1983, sufficient funds had been raised to buy St. Anne's Vicarage in Orford, and alterations began in the middle of 1984. The sum of £300,000 had eventually been raised to buy, alter and equip the building and provide one year's running costs.

The first patient was admitted on the 7th May 1985 and the Hospice was officially opened in September 1985 by Her Grace, the Duchess of Norfolk. The building was a sturdy, three storey Victorian house, which, initially, catered for only seven inpatients. Over the years it was extended and modified until it could accommodate nine inpatients and five day-patients (albeit that the day unit was on the first floor).

The path to the new Hospice

The seeds of the new building were sown in late 1991. Initially, the plan was to extend the existing building but by June 1992 it had been decided to build a larger building on a new site. So, in November 1992 a formal meeting was held with Warrington Borough Council (WBC) to seek their support and determine whether they could provide a site. Staff were canvassed (using an anonymous questionnaire) to gain their views on the proposed specification for the new building.

On the 16th October 1994, a formal appeal for £1.5m was launched at Warrington Town Hall for a 16 bed/10 day patients building. During early 1995, detailed discussions with the North Cheshire Health Authority revealed that they were extremely unhappy about the proposed 3 and 4 bed-rooms. They wanted single occupancy bedrooms.

They were also pushing for fewer beds and more day spaces. Consequentially, the specification was changed to 8 single bedrooms, 2 two bed-rooms and 15 day patients. By December, a revised layout had been prepared and costed at £2.1m.

By November 1996 everything was ready to go but we were awaiting the outcome of an application to the National Lottery for £500,000. On 16th December, we heard that we had been turned down with the result that the trustees called a halt to the whole project on the grounds that we could not raise sufficient funds to cover the cost of the current project in an acceptable time.

Completion and beyond

In January 1997, the whole project was completely reviewed and re-evaluated. The revised specification was 9 single bedrooms, 1 two bed room and 15 day patients. In May 1997, the trustees set a target cost for the revised project of £1.6m and on 4th August 1997 Invitations to Tender were issued.

In October, the land leases with WBC and Cheshire County Council were completed. The formal contract signing ceremony with the chosen contractor – Cruden Construction - took place in the Town Hall on 11th November 1997.

Work started on site on 9th February 1998 and Practical Completion was achieved on 12th December 1998. The chapel was consecrated on 21st December and the public were invited round during January 16th - 22nd and the first three patients were transferred from the old building into the new on 25th January 1999. The formal opening took place on 23rd June 1999 by the Duchess of Norfolk


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