Rowcroft salutes staff, volunteers and community as it celebrates 40 years

Rowcroft staff with 40 balloons

Rowcroft staff with 40 balloons - Credit: Submitted

Rowcroft Hospice is celebrating its 40th birthday - with a huge thank you to the people of South Devon for making it possible.

From small beginnings in 1982, the hospice now provides expert care to more than 2,000 people with life-limiting illnesses across South Devon each year. 

“Our anniversary year is a special time to appreciate and thank everyone in our community including all our past and current supporters, staff and volunteers, and to celebrate all the remarkable things that we’ve achieved together,” said Rowcroft Hospice CEO Mark Hawkins.

“Our 40-year track record of providing outstanding care to tens of thousands of people has only been possible because of the incredible support of our local community who have funded the majority of our care, helping us in so many ways, including through donations, legacies, fundraising events and activities, shopping online and in our high street and community stores and cafes, playing our lottery and of course volunteering. 

“Our 40-year journey has been incredible – we’ve expanded our care to reach more patients; we’ve developed new services to provide a holistic approach that puts patients’ choices at the very heart of everything we do; and we’ve evolved and adapted in response to the rapidly changing healthcare landscape.

"We’d like to thank all of Rowcroft’s dedicated staff and volunteers, as well as our health and social care colleagues, who have supported the hospice.

“We look back in awe at how far we’ve come and we look to the future with renewed determination, hope and passion to expand and enhance our care to continue to meet the diverse needs of our community for years to come.”

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Rowcroft Hospice takes its name from Ella Rowcroft who died in 1941 but not before generously creating a trust to ensure that the main house on her 22-acre Pilmuir estate in Torquay could continue to be used for the healthcare of the local community.

From 1937, the house was used as a convalescent home for women and children suffering from tuberculosis or recovering from surgery, and it became a maternity unit during the Second World War.

In later years, the house was a nursing home. Then in the early 1980s, the Torquay Lions Club was instrumental in the formation of Rowcroft Hospice when Richard Brinsley became chairman and took it upon himself to set up the hospice during his year in office. 

Mrs Winifred Langmead was one of the first patients to be cared for by the hospice when it opened its doors on May 4, 1982. She was so inspired by the quality of care that she wrote a letter to the local press saying:  "Rowcroft is a wonderful place. If ever you thought a hospice for the terminally ill would be bound by its very nature to be a gloomy place, come and see Rowcroft and think again. Everything is bright, big windows with marvellous views over gardens and coast… the Sisters and Nurses are the kindest people I have ever met. I marvel at their patience. As a patient here I thank God daily for all these dedicated people, and that Rowcroft was opened in time to help me."

From Rowcroft’s initial inception and with the unending support of countless individuals, organisations, businesses and groups, including the vital Friends of Rowcroft fundraising groups, the hospice has blossomed into an esteemed organisation.

Volunteers continue to play a crucial role in ensuring the smooth running of the hospice’s services, and in raising essential income through the charity’s 15 shops and in supporting the charity’s much-loved fundraising events.

“Rowcroft’s significant success is borne out of the hard work, compassion and devotion of our wonderful teams of past and present staff and volunteers, and the incredible generosity and commitment of our supporters. We are so very grateful,” said Director of Care and Strategy Gill Horne.

“Our achievements over four decades include: providing expert care to thousands of patients in our Inpatient Unit; setting up and delivering our revered Hospice at Home service that each year provides specialist care to around 500 people in their last two weeks of life at home; the development of our exceptional community services that include specialist nursing, complementary therapy, music therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social work, bereavement support and spiritual care; and the launch of our award-winning education programme that offers online and face-to-face specialist training to health and social care professionals across South Devon and beyond. “

The charity intends to mark its momentous birthday through a programme of celebratory events and fundraising activities throughout the year, including a special week in early May. 

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