Peace Hospice Care, which supports people with a life-limiting illness and their families from across our community, has become a familiar and much-loved part of the locality. The Hospice needs to raise over £4 million in voluntary income every year as we receive less than 20% of our running costs from the National Health Service.
Peace Hospice Care is at the heart of our community
The story of Peace Hospice Care (or the Peace Hospice as we were formally known) began in 1925. That year the Peace Memorial Hospital, built by public subscription as a memorial to those killed in the First World War, was opened by Princess Mary, the Princess Royal, at a cost of £90,000. The new hospital occupied a prominent position alongside the Town Hall and was further enhanced in 1928 when a War Memorial designed by local resident Mary Bromet and featuring three bronze statutes was erected in front of the facade.
The Hospital was extended in 1937, but by the 1970s its days were numbered. The Bromet memorial was moved to a new site alongside the Town Hall to accommodate road widening, and the hospital services were gradually relocated to the new Watford General Hospital being built on the Shrodells site. In 1985, the Peace Memorial Hospital was closed.
The Health Authority announced plans to use the Hospital for geriatric patients and most of the outer buildings were demolished. But by 1988 the Hospital had been seriously vandalized and was falling into disrepair, with no further news about its long-term future. As a final indignity, the historic 1924 clock was stolen from the facade.
Amid public outcry about the dismal state of the Hospital, the South West Herts Hospice appeal was launched in 1991 from an office above the Watford Hospice Shop in the Lower High Street. The two campaigns gradually came together, with enthusiastic backing from the Watford Observer, and in 1992 the Health Authority agreed to a Hospice on the Peace Memorial site. By 1993 the Hospice appeal had raised enough money to start a temporary Day Care centre in a portacabin alongside the Hospital.
It was opened by entertainer and Hospice campaigner Roy Castle.The next target was to transfer the Day Care centre and office facilities into the old Hospital. Building work began in 1995, and the new facility was officially opened by Princess Michael of Kent the following year. The Princess returned five years later to open a new Inpatient Unit with 11 beds.
In 2008 two further inpatient rooms were provided. As well as inpatient care and day care, the Hospice built up a range of ancilliary services, including an outpatient service, complementary therapy and family services including spiritual care and bereavement support.
Since 2005 the Hospice has also provided Hospice at Home service, enabling patients and their families to receive treatment and support in their own home.
Today Peace Hospice Care is run by a team of dedicated clinical, fundraising and administrative staff. They are supported by over 650 volunteers who work in the Hospice building itself and at the many Hospice shops as well as countless other local supporters. Hospice and community come together at various events, including the annual Lights of Love ceremonies, first held in 1996, and the annual all female Starlight Walk, which has raised significant sums for the Hospice since it first appeared in the fundraising calendar in 2007.
Princes Michael of Kent returned in 2011 to open a further extension to the Hospice facilities. The old shell, formerly a first floor storage area at the back of the building was fitted out to provide rooms for counselling and complementary therapy as well as an en-suite family room. The upgrade was funded by a £500,000 grant from the Department of Health.
Currently Peace Hospice Care has three core services -
Community Services including Hospice at Home, Community Liaison and Herts Neighbours, The Starlight Centre including Counselling & Bereavement, Rehabilitation and Wellbeing services and Inpatient Care