A community has gathered to give its thanks and mark its sorrow for St Clare’s Hospice after its shock closure.
A service of thanksgiving was held at St Peter’s Church in York Avenue in Jarrow to bring together families supported by the hospice, as well as those who had cared for people staying there or visiting its day services, as well as its volunteers and fundraisers.
The Primrose Terrace hospice closed in January after it went into insolvent liquidation and following a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report which raised a series of concerns.
It had initially brought a halt to its care in September in the wake of the CQC visit.
The thanksgiving service, which was attended by Mayor of South Tyneside Ken Stephenson, welcomed performances by the People’s Mission Band, which was marking its long association with the hospice by playing at the event.
Led by the Reverend Gillian Maude, the church’s vicar and the hospice’s final chaplain, she was joined for the event by Margaret Waites, the most recent lead chaplain, and Marjorie Brown, who formerly held the position.
Each addressed the church about their time and memories of the people who took it from a small location in Westoe Village to its own home in Jarrow 30 years ago, where it cared for those in need of respite or their final days.
Walter Armstrong, its former honorary president and board member told the congregation: “It’s sad, but we are also here to remember the good things St Clare’s Hospice did and proud of the 30 years of help it gave to guests and also the help given to their families and friends.”
He made a special mention of Doris Short, a long-term fundraiser who is due to mark her 100th birthday on Saturday.
Also recognised was its clinical nurse manager Jacki Richardson, who was presented with a Cavell Star nursing award by former colleague Carol Singleton.
The chaplaincy at the former St Clare’s Hospice held a thanksgiving service, at St. Peter’s Church, Jarrow to remember the work of the hospice for staff, and families of those the hospice has helped over the years.
Among those to attend was Sue Callender, 50, from Simonside, whose uncle George died of cancer in the hospice in 1995, the year after it opened, with her dad Ray, 87, also spending his final days there when he passed away in 2015.
She said the service the hospice had given them had ensured both were as comfortable as they could be and gave the family peace of mind they were being given the best possible care.
Sue went on to raise thousands of pounds to support its work and buy specialist equipment.
"I went from being my Dad's carer to going back to being his daughter again" she said.
"Honest to God, the staff were amazing, it was like I had another family.
"You walked through that door and it felt like somebody had hugged you, as if someone had put their arms around you.
"It was heartbreaking when it closed."