St. Joseph’s Hospice celebrates 50 years of care in Merseyside

One of the oldest hospices in the country, St. Joseph’s Hospice, in Thornton, will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary on Tuesday 19th March.

Father Francis O’Leary, the founder of the hospice and much-loved member of the local community, purchased what was Thornton Manor in August 1972. It then took two years to raise the funds necessary and turn the old manor house in to a working hospice.

On 19th March 1974, Father O’Leary welcomed the first patients to St. Joseph’s Hospice in Thornton. Since then, the hospice has cared for thousands of local families, giving them high quality compassionate care and precious time with their loved ones at the end of their lives.

To mark its 50th Anniversary, the hospice has delved in to its archives and has created a special timeline charting the history of the Thornton hospice over the last 50 years, which will be on display at the hospice from next week.

Staff at the hospice will be celebrating on 19th March with a 1970s themed event for patients and their families, staff and volunteers, and some special guests who play an important role in the running of the hospice. Hospice patients will also enjoy a 1970s themed afternoon tea with their loved ones.

Former members of staff and long-standing volunteers have also sent in special messages to congratulate the hospice and share their memories, which will be published on the hospice’s website and social media channels.

One such message from the hospice’s president, the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, said: “When I was at school, Father Francis was a frequent visitor to our house. He was a real family friend! I recall vividly offering help as he prepared to go to Rawalpindi, on his first appointment. It was there that his passion for helping the dying was first ignited. That led to his lifelong work in the hospice movement.

“I particularly recall a key saying of Father Francis; ‘Dying is the most important step that we take’. It is so important that we help people to take that great step as well as possible. I congratulate St Joseph’s Hospice on its 50th Anniversary. May God bless your next 50 years too.”

Mike Parr, chief executive of St. Joseph’s Hospice, said: “Father O’Leary’s devotion and tenacity were second to none and he spent every waking hour raising funds so that his vision of providing a peaceful and caring hospice for our local community could be realised. A great deal has been achieved over the last fifty years and, this year, we will be celebrating that in lots of different ways.

“There is a serious message here too because, fifty years on, funding is still a massive challenge and is a huge part of my role as chief executive, as it was for Father O’Leary. So, we will also be using this special anniversary to launch our campaign to ‘fund the next 50’.

“As a charity, there is no cost for our services and we take great pride in offering a higher level of care and support to patients, and their families as well. We want to be here in another 50 years’ time to care for the next generation of local families but we need to find new ways of increasing our funding to enable us to do that.”

An in-depth interview with Mike Parr is available in the current issue of Your Hospice magazine.

 To find out more about supporting St. Joseph’s Hospice, call 0151 932 6044/6046 or email