St. Margaret’s Hospice has welcomed longstanding supporter Countess de Salis as a new patron.

Lady de Salis has supported hospices since her late sister, Anne, Duchess of Norfolk, founded Help the Hospices, now Hospice UK, in 1984.

Her husband, Count Charles de Salis, was chairman of the appeal committee which raised £1.6m in the early 1980s to build the first St. Margaret’s Hospice In-patient Unit in Taunton.

Over several decades, the couple have hosted operas in the gardens of Yarlington House, near Wincanton, which have raised tens of thousands of pounds for St. Margaret’s Hospice and become a highlight of Somerset’s social calendar. Most recently, 350 people enjoyed a production of Verdi’s La Traviata by Pavilion Opera in June last year.

Lady de Salis hopes to host more operatic events in future and is looking forward to continuing to support St. Margaret’s Hospice in her new role as a patron of the charity.

“It’s absolutely wonderful what the staff and volunteers at the hospice do, and I’m very pleased and honoured to be helping in any way I can,” she said. “I have always felt if you are as fortunate as I am in life, you want to give something back to people.”

Lady de Salis, who was awarded the MBE in 2015, has raised substantial amounts of money for a variety of charities. With a passion for embroidery, she was chairman of the Royal School of Needlework and had her own design business for several years. Her charitable work includes hosting embroidery festivals for Macmillan Cancer Support and the Royal School of Needlework, as well as chairing a Christmas fair for the Home Farm Trust for 40 years.

St. Margaret’s Hospice cared for 3,800 people in Somerset with life-limiting illnesses last year. Our other patrons are: Lady Gass; Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset Anne Maw; the Right Reverend Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton; Jane Barrie, independent chairman of the South of England Local Education and Training Board; popular BBC Radio Bristol presenter Emma Britton and her dog Billy the Beagle.

Somerset cricketer Dom Bess recently became our first celebrity supporter. After NHS funding, we need to raise over £9.5m this year to deliver high quality, responsive and compassionate care to patients, their families and carers across the county.