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Special report: Historic Marie Curie hospice in Hampstead needs new recruits

PUBLISHED: 08:00 06 February 2016

The Queen Mother opening the hospice

The Queen Mother opening the hospice

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It is a national charity which traces its roots to Hampstead – and now it is appealing for new recruits in its hospice.

A history of the hospice

1944 – Bombing of the Marie Curie Hospital. The original Marie Curie Hospital, providing radium treatment for cancer patients, suffered a direct hit in an air raid in WW2.

1948 – The ‘Marie Curie Memorial Foundation’ is founded – the beginning of what is today known as Marie Curie.

1954 – The Edenhall Marie Curie Home is opened in Hampstead.

1978 – The Queen Mother opens the new Edenhall Hampstead Hospice, which remains to this day. Boxing legend Henry Cooper attends the ‘topping out ceremony’.

2007 – ‘Project Butterfly’ is launched, to raise funds to refurbish the Hampstead Hospice. The project is supported by celebrities including boxer Henry Cooper and actor Andrew Sachs.

2009 – ‘Project Butterfly’ is completed – the Hampstead Hospice receives a refurbishment to improve accommodation and enhance the well-being and quality of life of patients and their families.

2016 - The new Carers Clinic will be launched this year. The clinic has been designed to provide support to people caring for a loved one, who is living with a terminal illness.

Marie Curie’s modern 34-bed hospice in Lyndhurst Gardens, which provides essential care to hundreds of patients and their families each year, was opened by the Queen Mother in 1974.

But Marie Curie’s history in Hampstead dates back far further than that.

Back in 1929, a groundbreaking hospital opened to provide radiological treatment for women suffering from cancer.

Staffed by women, the Marie Curie Hospital - which was opened by then Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin - cared for 700 patients a year.

Geoff Martin with ward sister Blanka Aldridge, Hospice manager Jackie Laidlaw and fundraising manager Arlene Main at the Marie Curie Hospice in HampsteadGeoff Martin with ward sister Blanka Aldridge, Hospice manager Jackie Laidlaw and fundraising manager Arlene Main at the Marie Curie Hospice in Hampstead

It boasted facilities for radium and x-ray treatment, as well as research laboratories.

In 1944, most of the hospital was destroyed in an air raid. Thankfully there were no casualties, but it took three weeks to recover radium from under the floor.

After the war, committee members decided that instead of rebuilding the original hospital, a charity should be set up, and the Marie Curie Medical Foundation was formed in 1948. This was to become Marie Curie as we know it today.

Set up in a large Victorian home in Edenhall, Hampstead, the hospice was the third to be opened by the charity in the UK. It gave palliative care to make terminally-ill patients comfortable, and respite care for their families.

Demand grew so high that work began on a custom-built building, which was officially opened in December 1978, by Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother.

A recruitment day at the hospice for nurses who want to find out about working in palliative care is being held on February 27.

Liz Thomas, clinical lead nurse at the hospice, said: “In hospices we aim to have a higher nurse/patient ratio than in hospital so that we can give patients and families the time that they need.”

Nurses will be able to meet staff and look around the facility.

Liz added: “For those that can’t attend we are happy to talk to nurses about palliative care and hospice care over the phone or in person if they are interested in working in the field.”

For more information on recruitment, call 020 7853 3400.

The Ham&High is proudly working with two charity partners in 2016. This newspaper hopes to help the hospice raise £50,000 this year. We are also supporting the Alexandra Wylie Tower Foundaton, which supports disadvantaged North London children.

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