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St. Joseph’s Hospice celebrates 50 years of care in Merseyside

St. Joseph’s Hospice in Thornton, one of the oldest hospices in the country, is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

In August 1972, Father Francis O’Leary, the beloved member of the community and the hospice’s founder, bought what was then Thornton Manor. After that, it took two years to raise the required money to convert the old manor house into a functional hospice.

St. Joseph’s Hospice celebrates 50 years of care in Merseyside

Father O’Leary welcomed the first patients to St. Joseph’s Hospice in Thornton on March 19, 1974. Thousands of families in the area have received hospice care since then, providing them with excellent, compassionate care and valuable time to spend with their loved ones at the end of their lives.

A unique timeline detailing the history of the Thornton hospice over the past 50 years has been created by the hospice in honour of its 50th anniversary. It will be on display at the hospice starting next week.

On March 19, the hospice’s staff will celebrate with a themed event reminiscent of the 1970s, open to patients, their families, volunteers, and special guests who are crucial to the hospice’s operation. Additionally, a 1970s-themed afternoon tea will be enjoyed by hospice patients and their loved ones.

St. Joseph’s Hospice celebrates 50 years of care in Merseyside

Special messages to congratulate the hospice and share memories have also been received from former staff members and long-standing volunteers. These messages will be posted on the hospice’s website and social media accounts.

One such message from the hospice’s president, the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, said:

“When I was at school, Father Francis was a frequent visitor to our house. He was a real family friend! I recall vividly offering help as he prepared to go to Rawalpindi, on his first appointment. It was there that his passion for helping the dying was first ignited. That led to his lifelong work in the hospice movement.

“I particularly recall a key saying of Father Francis; ‘Dying is the most important step that we take’. It is so important that we help people to take that great step as well as possible. I congratulate St Joseph’s Hospice on its 50th Anniversary. May God bless your next 50 years too.”

Mike Parr, chief executive of St. Joseph’s Hospice, said: 

“Father O’Leary’s devotion and tenacity were second to none and he spent every waking hour raising funds so that his vision of providing a peaceful and caring hospice for our local community could be realised. A great deal has been achieved over the last fifty years and, this year, we will be celebrating that in lots of different ways.

“There is a serious message here too because, fifty years on, funding is still a massive challenge and is a huge part of my role as chief executive, as it was for Father O’Leary. So, we will also be using this special anniversary to launch our campaign to ‘fund the next 50’.

“As a charity, there is no cost for our services and we take great pride in offering a higher level of care and support to patients, and their families as well. We want to be here in another 50 years’ time to care for the next generation of local families but we need to find new ways of increasing our funding to enable us to do that.”

An in-depth interview with Mike Parr is available in the current issue of Your Hospice magazine, which is available online here or from any of our charity shops across Merseyside.

To find out more about supporting St. Joseph’s Hospice, call 0151 932 6044/6046 or email fundraising@stjhospice.org.uk


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