Originally known as “Hospice of the Marches”, the organisation was started in Hereford in 1985 by Dr Richard Lamerton and his wife, Patricia. Richard worked in Palliative care and trained at St Christopher’s Hospice, London under the guidance of Dame Cicely Saunders, a world renowned expert in palliative care.
Formalised as an incorporated company in March 1986 and registered with the Charities Commission in July of the same year, the work of Hospice of the Marches became known in nearby Blaenau Gwent when a local District Nurse Manager, Jayne Medlicott, heard Richard deliver a lecture on his work at the Postgraduate Medical Centre, Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny. Jayne knew, from personal tragic experience, how valuable such a service would be to the people of the borough and persuaded Richard to extend the service into Blaenau Gwent.
The new service started with the establishment of a Day Hospice in Tredegar in 1991, followed by the employment of the first nurse (Jayne Medlicott) in May 1992 and was based in a small office on The Circle, Tredegar. Historically, The Circle was also the location of the Tredegar Medical Aid Society which, for a contribution from its members, supplied free health care and inspired Aneurin Bevan, providing him with a “blueprint” of the model he used to establish the British National Health Service. From these humble beginnings, a small team (Richard, Jayne, one other nurse and a complementary therapist) worked tirelessly to care for people in Blaenau Gwent, gradually building and growing the service.
By 2000, the organisation employed several nurses, a social worker and a fundraiser and had changed its name to “Hospice of the Valleys” reflecting its aim to care for the people of Blaenau Gwent in the valleys of south east Wales.
Today, the Hospice employs 46 staff, including a range of multi-disciplinary specialist palliative care professionals, supported by more than 170 volunteers. It is the preferred provider of specialist palliative care in Blaenau Gwent for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and provides services on a 24/7 basis.
Richard Lamerton’s original vision of high quality holistic Hospice care, providing for the physical, social, psychological and spiritual needs of patients and their families has been consistent throughout and remains central to the ethos of the organisation today, some 25 years later.