Liz and John Searle were the driving force behind the group which in 1982 established Hospiscare with just two community nurses.
It was John’s early days as a medical student that sowed the seeds of what was to become Hospiscare. As a 22-year-old medical student on ward rounds in a London hospital he was horrified to hear a consultant dismiss the needs of a critically ill woman by telling staff to give her a bottle of whisky a day and send her home.
“I thought there must be a better way,” said John.
The work of Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern hospice movement, made a huge impression on the couple helping them, along with the Bishop of Crediton, to establish Hospiscare.
John said: “Elizabeth and I did this together. Elizabeth continues to fundraise by running marathons and has raised nearly £24,000. The children paid a price because I was not around very much but they were amazing, enthusiastic supporters and continue to be.”
Liz said: “Our children, Tim, Rebecca, Mark and Rosie were all passionate Hospiscare supporters and used to cycle around the city delivering Hospiscare letters. They sold cakes at school and a lot of their friends were wearing Hospiscare sweatshirts and t-shirts.”
John is very keen that the work of the steering group is recognised. ”They were a fantastic group of people to work with...we just got on and did it.
“I’m absolutely thrilled at the expansion of Hospiscare and could never have imagined it. Hospiscare has not only kept its ethos but has managed to grow and maintain its focus on the individual patient and those close to them. It has also adapted to the modern world without losing its fundamental vision. That’s been the brilliance of the people who have taken on the baton from us.”
John was the long-standing chairman of Hospiscare and is now the charity's president.