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It's Norfolk Day! But what makes our county so special?

PUBLISHED: 17:54 26 July 2019 | UPDATED: 17:54 26 July 2019

The Countess of Wessex visiting the Priscilla Bacon Lodge stand at the Royal Norfolk Show

The Countess of Wessex visiting the Priscilla Bacon Lodge stand at the Royal Norfolk Show

Archant

Mark Nicholas MBE, chief executive of Priscilla Bacon Norfolk Hospice Care, explains why a new building is needed to support the growing needs of our county

Norfolk Day presents an appropriate opportunity to reflect upon and celebrate some of the many aspects which makes Norfolk so special.

As a county, we are often teased for being traditional, old-fashioned and not progressive in our thoughts. However, when considering palliative and end-of-life care, Norfolk was at the cutting edge 40 years ago and is once again with the appeal to build a new Priscilla Bacon Hospice.

Priscilla Bacon Lodge, the existing hospice on Unthank Road, Norwich was opened in 1979, after a 16-month £250,000 fundraising campaign. This was a significant achievement as was reported in an article which appeared in this paper in July 1978. "Launched during a period when the Jubilee, among other things, was filtering a good deal of public interest, energy and money, the subsequent appeal for funding of £250,000 might have been seen as an optimistic and thus difficult target to achieve.

"At a time of financial stringency, it was certainly a formidable target, even allowing for the enormous feeling of general goodwill towards the concept of a continuing care unit. In the event, the impact and initial response to the appeal was little short of staggering. Within a year the fund stood at only £38,000 below target."

What is perhaps even more striking is that the modern hospice movement was founded by Dame Cicely Saunders at St Christopher's Hospice in 1967 as the first facility linking expert pain and symptom control, compassionate care, teaching and clinical research. Dame Cicely revolutionised the way in which society cares for the ill, the dying and the bereaved.

Lady Priscilla Bacon met Dame Cicely at St Christopher's Hospice and was inspired to create a hospice in Norfolk, based upon that which she had seen in London. This meant that when Priscilla Bacon Lodge was opened in 1979, it was one of the first hospices to be built in the whole country and should be celebrated as such.

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Each year the Lodge supports 10,000 service care users, through their inpatient beds, outpatient services within the Day Unit, the Hospice at Home and Community Specialist Palliative Care Team and the Psychological and Bereavement Services.

However, after 40 years of excellence, Priscilla Bacon Lodge is now inadequate both in scale and configuration, as the population of Norfolk has grown by 220,000 in this time, multiplying demand, and in its current location it cannot be extended.

Therefore, a new charity has been created, Priscilla Bacon Norfolk Hospice Care, which has launched a campaign to raise £12.5 million to build a new hospice with 24 inpatient beds to replace Priscilla Bacon Lodge. The new hospice will be built on land adjacent to the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital and will provide improved day care and outpatients' facilities, as well as a coordination centre for the 'Hospice at Home' team, who deliver end-of-life care in the community. It will also be a platform for education and research into palliative and end-of-life care.

The initial plan to create a new hospice in a new location received the blessing of Dame Cicely Saunders before she died in 2005, who was sure that the people of Norfolk would generously raise the funds again required for the new hospice.

When the new Priscilla Bacon Hospice is built, it will 
continue a proud history of palliative and end-of-life care 
and again ensure that Norfolk is at the forefront of hospice care in the country.

Forty years ago, the people of Norfolk came together to raise the funds to build Priscilla Bacon

Lodge. Now it is our turn to do the same for Priscilla Bacon Hospice, and what better day to get involved than on Norfolk Day?

For further details about the Priscilla Bacon Hospice appeal please contact Hugo Stevenson, head of fundraising and communication, at hugostevenson@priscillabaconhospice.org.uk

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