Why you should be one of our Trustees

News and Blog

St Catherine’s Hospice is looking for dynamic individuals to help guide its future direction and govern the organisation by joining its voluntary Board of Trustees.

The hospice provides expert end of life care to local people at its hospice buildings, and more often, in the comfort of people’s own homes across Sussex and Surrey. Now, with an ever increasing need for its care and a new hospice building on the horizon, the local charity is looking for energetic individuals who can help lead them through the exciting challenges ahead.

But why should you give your time to support the hospice in this vital role? Terry O’Leary is St Catherine’s Chair of Trustees and recently retired from his job in global banking to dedicate more time to the hospice. Here, he explains why it’s so important to him, that he, alongside a strong Board of Trustees, who are central to the leadership of the charity, are there to guide St Catherine’s:

“Three years ago, my wife Jenny died in the care of St Catherine’s, having been diagnosed with terminal cancer some 10 months earlier. It was my experience then that inspired me to volunteer as Chair of Trustees.

I think about Jenny all the time but she was very much in my mind when I joined hospice colleagues for something called a Schwartz Round recently, a therapeutic process which allows hospice staff to safely and confidentially share difficult experiences and emotions with one another. At this session, a doctor and senior nurse spoke candidly and I remember someone saying ”People think we’re saints, but really, we’re only human.” Actually, I still think they’re saints! As I listened, my mind went back to March 2014 when I spent a final week with Jenny at the hospice, and we directly experienced the care and compassion St Catherine’s provides.

People think of St Catherine’s as a place where people die, and of course it is. But it’s as much, if not more, about living than it is about death. It’s about enabling people with a terminal illness to make the best of the months or weeks they have and then when death is inevitable, to as far as possible, be without pain and discomfort. Death is always distressing, it doesn’t have to be undignified.

That is what St Catherine’s gave Jenny and myself, and perversely, in many ways, our final months together were some of the best of our 45 years. We both thought when she received her diagnosis that we’d just sit around until she died. Far from it. With St Catherine’s help and encouragement, we enjoyed Jenny’s final months much more than we ever thought possible.

Death, of course, eventually came, as peaceful and dignified as it could have been, but still greatly distressing for me and Jenny’s family and friends. Dealing with the distress of death is something we all have to face, but our colleagues at St Catherine’s deal with the distress of someone’s death every day, of every week, of every year.

I consider myself privileged to contribute to St Catherine’s as Chair of Trustees. I’m also somewhat overwhelmed when I think of my predecessors, especially those who had the vision and the courage to found the hospice in the 1970s. And when I look to the future I know that we’ll need similar vision and courage. So if you have the kind of vision and courage St Catherine’s needs, I urge you to apply to join us as a Trustee to help the hospice continue its remarkable work.”

If you’re feeling inspired to find out more, St Catherine’s is hosting two Trustee Open Events at the hospice on:

Thursday 1 June – 6pm to 8pm
• Saturday 3 June – 10am to 12pm

If you’d like to attend, please email Peter Nesbitt on: peternesbitt@stch.org.uk or call: 01293 447351. Alternatively click here to apply for the voluntary role. No previous experience of hospice care or being a Trustee is required. Applications close on Wednesday 7th June at 5pm.