THE PRINCE OF WALES HOSPICE
PART ONE - LAYING THE FOUNDATIONS
by OLIVER WALKER
The Prince of Wales Hospice provides both day-care and residential care for
people who are suffering from a life threatening illness. It currently
employs 100 members of staff and has the support of 300 volunteers in
both the hospice itself and its shops. In November of this year the
hospice will have been in operation for sixteen years. However, the
history of the Hospice stretches back much further than that.
The plans for the hospice originated in 1982, seven years before it opened
its doors to patients for the first time. At that time, Dr. Bas Ikoku of
the Normanton Rotary Club proposed that the five towns district should
have its own hospice separate to the existing one at Wakefield. This led
to the creation of the "Five Towns Plus" Hospice Fund which
would aim to generate funds to make the dream of the hospice become a
reality. It was decided that Pontefract was the most suitable location
due to its size and centralisation within the ‘Five Towns’ district.
The idea was put forward to the Community Health Council who were very
enthusiastic about the plans.
Throughout 1983 and 1984, a total of fourteen support groups were formed with the
intention of raising the required capital. The groups organised various
events from lunches and dinners to fun runs. These events proved to be
successful, and indeed during such an event in 1986 one of the most
important moments in the history of the hospice took place. In that year
a half marathon was organised in which famous television personality Sir
Jimmy Saville ran and was introduced to the plans for the hospice.
Later, when Saville met The Prince of Wales, he informed him of these
plans and asked him if he would like to be involved. The Prince was so
enthusiastic that he made an informal visit to the support groups to
encourage and support their fund raising efforts. In addition to this,
His Royal Highness would annually play in a charity polo match, the
proceeds of which went to the hospice fund.
From that time onwards, the hospice began to take shape. A free plot of land
was donated on Halfpenny Lane, Pontefract by the Wakefield District
Council. In order to help pay for construction costs, members of the
local community bought a brick at 25p each. Finally in November 1989,
the building process was completed and the hospice was opened for the
very first time. Each room was named after one of the support groups who
had worked so tirelessly to set it up.
Initially, the hospice was only able to function for one day per week, and its
first year running costs were a modest £374,000.
Further change occurred in 1990. Until March of that year, the hospice was
simply called the "5 Towns Plus" Hospice. This changed when
Her Majesty, The Queen gave permission for the Hospice to use The Prince
of Wales’ name in its title.
During 1990 also, the Hospice was able to extend its opening to three days per
week and by the end of the year, was able to admit patients for 24-hour
care for the first time in the newly furnished bedded area.
Other articles about the Pontefract Hospice by Oliver Walker
Prince of Wales Hospice in Pontefract Part Two - Support Groups
Prince of Wales Hospice in Pontefract Part Three - Moments in History
Prince of Wales Hospice in Pontefract Part Four - Flower Funds and Gardens