We started thanks to the foresight and commitment of the local community and medical experts who laid the groundwork to open the hospice.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the then East Suffolk District Health Authority and other groups began discussions about establishing a hospice in east Suffolk. The Health Authority was unfortunately unable to fund the project so an appeal committee was formed.
The first fundraising appeal
In 1983, a public fundraising appeal was launched with the aim of raising £1 million.
Members of the appeal committee visited other hospices and spent four years following the appeal working to encourage donations from the public and keep the campaign in the local media. They were also busy planning the building and how services could be run.
In 1987, their determination and the amazing support and generosity of local people paid off and the £1million target was met.
After a competition in a local paper, we chose the name, St Elizabeth Hospice, after St Elizabeth of Thuringia, known for her kindness to the less fortunate and devotion to the poor and sick. We adopted the Tudor rose as our logo, because of its links to , Queen Elizabeth I.
Building work began in May 1988, with the Duchess of Norfolk laying the foundation stone two months later.
Opening our doors
We began treating individuals on the 1st November 1989 and HRH the Princess Royal officially opened the building on the 5 December that year.
We originally planned 20 beds, but opened with ten and in June 1990 our Day Centre could help eight patients a day. In the following years, we opened more spaces and included complementary therapies and outpatient clinics.
By 1997, we introduced a Family Support service and extended our Day Centre building to accommodate 12 per day. Former Ipswich Town and England Manager, Bobby Robson, opened the new Day Centre in October 1997 and just two years later the hospice's 10th anniversary marked a celebration of achievement.
Local expansions and care
We have continued to develop over the years to keep a pace with demand, modern times and medical progression.
In 2000, we expanded the Inpatient Unit and introduced en-suite facilities. We refurbished several wards and included piped oxygen installed to every bed. We then added a purpose built education centre .
In 2007 and 2008, we completed a major extension upgrade on the Day Care services, the dining room, physiotherapy and occupational therapy services.
In 2011, the Inpatient Unit and outside entrance areas benefited from a £1.7 million makeover, part funded by the Department of Health, to ensure a welcoming, comfortable and practical environment for individuals, their family and carers.
On 4th July 2011, we merged with Waveney Hospice Care, paving the way for the development of services in Great Yarmouth and Waveney.
In 2011 to 2012, we further expanded our services into Waveney and South Norfolk, providing three day services.
In 2013, we started offering a range of services at the Louise Hamilton Centre in Gorleston.
Our 25th anniversary
2014 was a special year for us as we marked our 25th Anniversary.
In the last 25 years, we have cared for more than 20,000 people thanks to the generosity and support of the local community.
Around 500 people came through our doors to join the celebrations, from patients, families, and young adults, to staff, volunteers, healthcare professionals and general hospice supporters.
During this year we also transformed our new Day Services facilities. They now include a stylish atrium with sliding doors leading to the garden as well as a bright hallway with five fresh counselling rooms, a hair salon, large bathroom, kitchen, WCs and rooms for complementary therapy, as well as an incredible new sensory room and therapy gym.
Where we are today
The hospice is constantly developing to meet the needs of people in the local community. We support more than 2,000 people each year and the need for our services is growing. We have recently developed a young adult group supporting young people aged 14 and up with care tailored to their needs.
We want to help people living with a progressive illness to take back their independence and live the life they have to the full.