Clare Norton was involved with St Richard’s from the very start, supporting Jenny Bulman in the planning and preparation stages of the first ‘Hospice at Home’ service, and taking a role as a volunteer nurse in the early days. She was one of the few people in the team that had extensive experience in hospices, and in this interview she talks about working under the hospice pioneer Dame Cicely Saunders and other inspirational early palliative doctors. Clare’s support and guidance was influential to the developing service for many years both as a nurse and later a governor, and she continues her work as a volunteer to this day.
Clare trained as a nurse in Birmingham in the days when ‘cancer’ was an unmentionable word. In this extract, she talks about an experience with a colleague’s dying father which shaped the direction she was to take in the future. As she explains, she later trained at St Christopher’s and St Joseph’s under several notable pioneers of hospice care.
By 1984 Clare had moved to Worcestershire with her husband and through various contacts, they became aware of the plan to start a hospice in the county. They attended the first meeting in the church in Droitwich and Clare has remained involved with St Richard’s ever since. In the next extract, she recalls the ups and downs of those early years.
By the early 90s, Clare was Chair of the Governors of St Richard’s when Princess Diana visited Rose Hill to officially open the building. But despite the tremendous publicity from visits like this, Clare still felt that there was a taboo around hospice care and a reluctance to use it. Her impressions of Diana, however, were entirely positive.