Barney Price had retired from a successful career as a chartered accountant in industry when he was approached to take on the role of administrator at St Richard’s. He knew all about the hospice from his wife Ann, who was the secretary at that time, but Barney had never worked in the health sector and found the business ‘at a cross roads’, with only enough money in the bank for 4 weeks’ running costs. Barney is credited with stabilizing and restructuring the organisation, putting the finances in order and enabling St Richard’s to make plans for an inpatient unit and launch a capital appeal. Throughout this project, many people have voiced their opinion that Barney was instrumental in turning the hospice’s fortunes around. He was a key member of the team that got the new hospice built on time and in budget. He retired a proud man in 2006, just before St Richard’s moved to its new home.
In 1998 Barney took over the day to day running of St Richard’s during a period of upheaval and uncertainty. In this first extract, he explains just how bad things were. Despite the demand for its services and its reputation of excellence for care and commitment, the hospice was broke. Barney doesn’t mince his words; he says that St Richard’s could easily have gone under.
Within a week, Barney was up against another major challenge. Acorns Children’s Hospice, which covered Worcestershire but was based in Birmingham, dropped a bombshell during a meeting about joint fundraising.
St Richard’s took a back seat while Acorn’s built their hospice in Worcester. Barney’s focus was on raising income and profile, and working with the health authorities to create a strategic plan for palliative care in the county. In this extract, Barney concedes that as St Richard’s moved towards the capital appeal, his ‘retirement project’ had become an entirely different challenge.
Whilst Barney and his team needed to secure funds for both the new building and its future running costs, they also needed a site. Amazingly this was resolved by an extraordinarily generous donor, a property developer whose father had been cared for by St Richard’s some years before. Dick Hicton gave St Richard’s the land at Wildwood, a bumpy pony field with a ditch along the bottom. In July 2005, Barney recalls a special ceremony to cut the first turf.