St Rocco’s Hospice has been providing care in the Warrington area since 1985, thanks to the support of the community and dedication of local healthcare professionals.
It was in 1978 when a local GP, Dr Michael Thomas, realised that Warrington and Halton needed a hospice. Creating a hospice from nothing is no mean feat: a steering committee was formed to raise the substantial funds required and find suitable premises.
Support from the people of Warrington
In 1981, St Ann’s Vicarage in Orford was chosen as the site and when fundraising reached £300,000 (enough to refurbish and equip the building and provide one year’s running costs), work began.
The hospice is opened
The hospice was opened on 7 May 1985, by Her Grace, the Duchess of Norfolk. The building initially catered for seven inpatients – and was steadily modified to provide greater capacity. The building itself, a large Victorian house, was less than ideal, with some services being provided on the first floor.
The need for a new hospice
By 1991, it was clear that the hospice had outgrown the building. Extending the building further wasn’t a realistic option, so it was decided that a purpose-built hospice was needed – and the search began for a suitable site, a search which ended with the former Bewsey High School playing field becoming available. Warrington Borough Council and Cheshire County Council agreed to donate this land – and a new drive to raise funds, to create the building, was launched. This wasn’t without its challenges – it was expected that £1.5 million would need to be raised to contribute to a £2.18 million total. When an application to the National Lottery for £500,000 was turned down, the project was called to a halt because of the funding shortfall.
A rethink and a new start
In January 1997, the project was reviewed and a new, scaled-down, specification was developed. This included nine single bedrooms, one double bedroom (for family use) and a day care centre which could accommodate fifteen people. On 25 November 1997, the first turf was cut – and construction began.
The new hospice opens
On 12 December 1998, the new hospice was handed over to us – and the chapel was consecrated later that month. On 25 January 1999, the first three patients were transferred from our old building, although the formal opening of the new hospice wasn’t until 23 June.
The work continues
As you can imagine, there’s always a need to improve and expand our facilities – the most recent of which was an improved day centre – and an education facility, so that we can share our expertise with other medical and care professionals.
We couldn’t have done this without you
It’s been a long journey, but anyone visiting our new, purpose-built hospice would agree that the results are worth it. But it’s all thanks to the generous and tireless support of the Warrington community, raising the vital funds needed to build such an excellent facility.