As a little girl, sitting in the back of her parents’ car, Allison Mann remembers driving past the 17th-century Thorpe Hall in Peterborough and saying "I want to work there".
"I didn’t even know what Thorpe Hall was then; I just knew it looked like the kind of place I’d like to be," laughs Allison. Many years later, having qualified as a nurse, Allison found herself back at Thorpe Hall – by then renovated and opened as a Sue Ryder hospice – for a job interview.
She discovered she was pregnant with her eldest daughter so turned down the role, but joined the staff five years later as a registered nurse. Fast-forward another 17 years and Allison is now leading the team at Thorpe Hall as the new hospice director.
“I realised early on in my career that my passion lay with caring for patients and their families at the end of life," she says, "and I also realised that end of life care could and should be so much better than it was."
"I finish my shift every day knowing I've made a difference"
After a spell working with a hospital team developing palliative care services, Allison’s next logical step was a role at a specialist palliative and end of life care unit working alongside a dedicated team of experts – Thorpe Hall Hospice.
"I can honestly say that, every day over the 17 years since then, I’ve finished my shift knowing that my team and I have made a difference," says Allison. "To be leading that team now is an absolute privilege and one I feel incredibly proud to have been given.
"In this new role I have chance to influence future provision of end of life care across the region. As a nurse that’s all I’ve ever wanted – to ensure patients and their families receive the very best care," she continues.
"Our team works holistically with every patient to give them what they need to live as well as they can during the time they have. That time is so very precious – it’s a time people can use to create memories, take photos and share thoughts. Being a part of making that happen is what ties me to palliative care."
"We have so much to be proud of here"
Allison was one of the team involved in the design of the new inpatient unit that was built in the grounds of Thorpe Hall and which opened two years ago. She’s now looking to the next stage of the hospice’s development in her role as director. “
"We have so much to be proud of here – a fantastic modern hospice, a team of staff and volunteers whose priority is to deliver the incredible care we are renowned for, and a really supportive community without whom we wouldn’t be here," she concludes. "I see my new role as bringing all of that together and ensuring we continue to find the right opportunities to reach more people who need us at the most difficult time of their lives."