40th Anniversary – Memories from our Members
Our 52 Members are some of our most dedicated and long serving supporters. To mark our 40th anniversary, two Members share their memories of how they first became involved and their reflections on decades of unwavering support.
Pat Talbot Founding Member:
“In 1980 I went along to a public meeting in Crawley Town Hall about setting up a new hospice. At the end, we were asked to sign our name if we were interested in getting involved. So I added my name.
“Initially we developed Friends Groups, which were a link into the community, working alongside other individuals and groups to support the hospice. We had to do two main things – the first, was a PR job, talking to organisations and clubs to gather support. We made a big effort to talk to as many people as possible, I even remember talking to pigeon fanciers who kept racing pigeons in their loft!
“The second thing we did was hold fundraising events. It started off very low key, we had jumble sales and events in people’s homes. Gradually there were bigger events, including balls at Alexandra House and Goodwood House. It was amazing.
“I have always I felt a great sense of achievement and thankfulness for being involved with St Catherine’s. I know several people who have died at the hospice and one of my sons-in-law died there. Of all the things I’ve achieved in life, this stands out – it’s really wonderful.
“I had a tour of the new hospice recently and I got a real feeling of what it is going to be like, it’s really brilliant. I will always have memories of the old hospice, but I don’t feel sad. I feel we have moved on and this new hospice is the present and the future.”
Simon Ames OBE Member:
“It was in the early 1980s when I organised a high-profile fundraising event at the Gatwick Hilton Hotel for the business community. I felt we needed someone to attend who was a star, who guests would want to meet.
“I had heard that the mother of Edward Fox, the famous actor, had been in a hospice on the South Coast, so he already had an understanding of the hospice movement. I went to see him and asked him if he’d be prepared to help. He said, “I’d be delighted old boy.”
“It was groundbreaking stuff at the time. In December, we gathered the great and the good from the business community and we really did have a splendid event. Edward had just played the King Edward VIII in a television series, so I asked him to be ‘King of the hospice’ for the night, and he went for it! I wrote him a speech which he delivered perfectly and then, afterwards, I asked him to go around talking to guests about the hospice. Everyone wanted to talk to him and he was so good. He really was King of the hospice that night!
“Volunteering with the hospice has always given me a different view of the world. It’s been a remarkable story of success and a key part of my life.
I look back on it with great pleasure. I’ve loved every second, I’ve met some wonderful people and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”