Opening up Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice in 2018

In her final blog post of the year, Elise Hoadley, Hospice Director at our Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, reflects on the past year and shares how her team has been working hard to open up the hospice to more people in Gloucestershire in 2018.

This year there has been much hard work and creativity to open up our care and services to more people. It’s been a tremendous year, and I am incredibly proud of all we have achieved.

None of this would be possible without our many wonderful supporters, our volunteers and staff who work so hard day in and day out to make sure our hospice can be there when it matters.

More care for more people

A Leckhampton Hospice at Home nurse driving a car

As a charity, our vision is to provide more of our expert and compassionate palliative and bereavement care to more people in Gloucestershire, and we’re working closely with our partners and commissioners in the county to make this happen.

This year, we’ve taken a big step towards achieving this thanks to a substantial grant from The Summerfield Charitable Trust, which will see our Hospice at Home team grow. Next year, we’ll have three dedicated Hospice at Home teams of Sue Ryder Nurses providing expert and compassionate palliative care to patients in their own homes in Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury. We’ll also provide a brand new Sue Ryder patient advice line too.

We have seen growth in our day hospice service, which is now open for a fourth day each week providing a 'Living Well' session. This ‘drop-in’ day allows patients to access complementary therapies, art sessions, physiotherapy and dedicated nursing assessments.

Our volunteer befriending service has also grown. We now have a team of 27 volunteer befrienders who help to keep our patients from loneliness by providing friendship and support through weekly visits in their own home.

The hospice movement relies on volunteers to keep going, and this year we have grown our volunteering workforce to 234 volunteers who give an incredible 1,045 hours a week. Volunteers work in every department of the hospice and we are so grateful to them for their expert skills, dedication and support.

Creating a home from home

New inpatient room at Leckhampton
All bedrooms throughout the hospice have been refurbished and redecorated, making Leckhampton Court Hospice even homelier.

It’s important to us that our hospice feels like a home from home for people spending time with us. Over the past year, each bedroom in our inpatient unit has been refurbished, replacing sinks, furnishings, radiators and décor. We have lightened and brightened each room, making our hospice a home from home for families needing our expert and compassionate palliative care.

We have a new bedroom for the use of family members, helping them stay close to loved ones overnight.

Our patient sitting room has also been refurbished with new flooring, a new kitchen area offering snacks and drinks for visitors, new furniture and an area for children to play in. A wall mural brings the 'outside' in to the bright and airy room too.

Our outdoor spaces have also seen significant improvements thanks to a generous donation by the Charles Irving Charitable Trust, which has enabled the creation of a new, all-weather walkway around our lake. We’ve named this the Sir Charles Irving Woodland Walk and it gives safe access to our woodland, helping patients and families enjoy fresh air and being close to nature. In the next year, we will add bat boxes, bird boxes and seating areas to make this a space for all to use and enjoy.

For many years, the north-facing aspect of our inpatient unit has been inaccessible due to the crumbling stonework of the terrace steps. The gardens had overgrown and the area was falling into disrepair. The donation by the Charles Irving Charitable Trust has meant a local stonemason has been able to restore the failing steps, giving full access to the Sir Charles Irving Terrace. The views across Cheltenham and the Gloucester valley are spectacular and can now be enjoyed by patients and their families.

Other repairs have also been made: a new robust car park surface has been laid, areas of lead on the roof have been replaced, and new boilers have been installed in the inpatient unit and day hospice.

We’re Gloucestershire’s only inpatient unit hospice, and we want to make our facilities as accessible to everyone as possible while celebrating the historical value of the manor house that is our home. This year, we participated in the 2018 Heritage Open Day in September and we’ve registered to open our gardens in the National Garden Scheme in July 2019 too.

Increasing support from local communities

Clare sitting among some of her knitted items
Supporter Clare Young won the JustGiving Creative Fundraiser of the Year Award for her knitted 'Work of Heart Garden'.

Of course, as a charity all of this could not be possible without raising the £2.1 million needed each year to keep our services going. Our fundraising team have worked tirelessly this year to help raise those vital funds, and I am so grateful to them for all their hard work.

Our Ride for Ryder Sportive cycling event celebrated its 30th year and saw the highest ever number of participants take to their cycles in support of our care, our Starlight Hike raised over £50,000 this year and, as charity partner for Cheltenham Half Marathon, we had over 70 runners take to the streets in Sue Ryder running vests to raise over £34,000 for our hospice. This is all raising vital funds for the running of our hospice and raising our profile across Gloucestershire too.

Hospice supporter, Clare Young, created the incredible ‘Work of Heart Garden’ in memory of her husband Ken after being advised to knit by her psychologist to help manage her grief and the mental health symptoms she experienced following his death. The creation is a 4m by 4m full-size woollen garden modelled on a hospice bedroom, and has so far raised over £27,000 for our care, with fundraising still ongoing. The garden was displayed at the RHS Spring Festival in Malvern, at the Cotswold Show and it appeared in Gloucester Cathedral for the month of August 2018.

Clare was shortlisted to the final three in the JustGiving Creative Fundraiser of the Year category earlier this year and, following a public vote where over 35,000 votes were cast, Clare was crowned ‘Creative Fundraiser of the Year’ at a glittering awards ceremony in November.

A vibrant place full of life

Patients Beverly Creary (centre) and Patricia Adkins (far left), and Nursing Assistant Gerri Garrot (left) and Occupational Therapist Heather Bayliss (right) share a joke with HRH Prince Charles.
Patients Beverly Creary (centre) and Patricia Adkins (far left), and Nursing Assistant Gerri Garrot (left) and Occupational Therapist Heather Bayliss (right) share a joke with HRH Prince Charles.

As a write this blog post, I am struck by just how vibrant a place our hospice is. And I have so much more to write about! We launched our own Run Club this year, to prepare supporters for the Cheltenham Half Marathon. One of our run club sessions even saw double Olympic Gold Medallist James Cracknell MBE pop into the hospice to show his support!

Thanks to supporter Caroline Edwards and funding from The Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham, our volunteers and staff now attend a Hospice Choir, which is currently preparing for a fundraising event in Cheltenham Town Hall in January. They will perform a song written about our very own catering assistant Claire Pemberton-James and we are all really looking forward to this special performance.

Our highlight of the year was a very special visit from our Patron, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales who brought smiles to patients, families, volunteers and staff in a special pre-Christmas visit. It was a wonderful occasion, and it was a real honour for me to be able to share how much our hospice has achieved over the year.

We’ve achieved so much, and I want to thank each and every one of you helping to make this happen. I look forward to 2019 with much excitement as we continue on our journey to open up hospice care to more people in Gloucestershire.

If you want to find out more about supporting our hospice through fundraising or volunteering, we would love to hear from you! Email for more information.

Become part of our Hospice at Home team

We’re also recruiting! Visit our careers website for more details on our current senior nursing and nursing assistant vacancies.


Elise Hoadley

Hospice Director

Elise Hoadley