St. Margaret’s Hospice was founded in 1980 and started providing community care in 1982, thanks to the fundraising efforts of the local community. Just 5 years later on the 6th June Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent officially opened the Taunton In-patient Unit.

Providing this facility for patients with a life-limiting illness took the commitment and hard work of so many people, fundraising huge amounts to ensure the hospice’s sustainability in Somerset. Two of these committed individuals include Elizabeth Yates and Joyce Vernon, who are both still volunteering now.

Elizabeth, a founding member of the hospice, has been fundraising for 33 years. From spending weekends at car boots to starting the first hospice charity shop in Taunton, Elizabeth has gone above and beyond to provide hospice care to the people of Somerset. At the age of 94 she is still a great support to our Fundraising Team, helping our Community Fundraisers in their Taunton office every month.

Elizabeth had recently relocated from Hong Kong to the Taunton area in 1982 when she saw articles on the hospice’s efforts. She enquired how she could help and has never looked back.

Elizabeth says she can’t think of one proudest moment as there has been so many, although high on the list would be meeting and chatting to Princess Diana who visited the hospice in 1993.

Elizabeth says “I have enjoyed everything; it’s been hard work but satisfying. The knowledge that I’ve helped others has made all the long hours worth it. I’ve made many friends over the years and hope to continue well into the future.”

Joyce Vernon, having previously worked as a Health Visitor in London, had her first experience of St. Margaret’s when a hospice nurse attended a local church to ask for volunteers. In 1983 Joyce started volunteering for the hospice, supporting patients in their own homes.

After the In-patient Unit opened, Joyce approached the hospice to ask if she could volunteer within the In-patient Unit. Sarah Folland, Matron at the time, asked if Joyce would be willing to be St. Margaret’s first Bank Nurse. Joyce was nervous returning to practical nursing but, after just one shift, she found staff and volunteers to be kind and encouraging and she never looked back. Since then Joyce has worked in a number of roles on the In-patient Unit, in the Sunflower Day Centre and within the Community Team.

Joyce retired in 2009, but that wasn’t the end of the relationship. Since then Joyce has returned as a Spiritual Care Volunteer, as well as helping out wherever and whenever she can.

Joyce says “My work at St. Margaret’s, both voluntary and employed, means a great deal to me. I am very proud to be connected to St. Margaret’s, an organisation that has led and educated the way in palliative care in Somerset and continues to offer a high standard of care to patients and families at such a critical time in their lives.”

The staff and volunteers at our Taunton hospice enjoyed a beautiful cake made by St. Margaret's kitchen staff in celebration!