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FOR more than 30 years St Helena Hospice has been looking after people in north Essex living with terminal illnesses and offering support for their families.

These vintage images show how the vital facility was built on an area of land in High Woods which has seen developments spring up around it in the more than three decades since it was opened.

In the late 1970s a public meeting was called and an appeal launched to raise enough money for a hospice to be built in North East Essex and by 1983 the Myland Hall site had been bought.

Work began in the closing months of that year, when the Duchess of Norfolk got things rolling with the digging of the first earth and it opened the doors of its inpatient unit to patients for the first time in 1985.

The following year the hospice was officially opened by the Queen Mother and in 1987 work began to create a day centre following a generous donation from a local businessman.

In 1988 Princess Diana opened the centre, which was named the Joan Tomkins Centre and by 1995 and education centre has also been added.

The day centre was itself extended and modernised in 2010 and a year later the education centre was given the same treatment.

As when it opened the hospice continues to rely predominantly on donations and fundraising events to continue its vital work.

These include the inaugural Comic Hero Run which will take place for the first time in Castle Park On Sunday March 19.