AN institution which has helped thousands of people in times of crisis is marking its 35th anniversary today.

St Helena Hospice, in Barncroft, High Woods, Colchester, admitted its first patient on May 20, 1985.

Over the subsequent decades, the hospice has helped thousands of people with life-threatening or life-limiting illnesses and its service has expanded to help people at home, through therapies and with bereavement counselling as well as providing in-patient end of life care.

But now the hospice is in need of help itself. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the fundraising upon which it depends and it has now launched an appeal for funds.

Chief executive Mark Jarman-Howe said: “We need to raise around £2million a year alone from our shops and fundraising combined and both of these will be been significantly impacted for several months because of the pandemic.

“We generally raise around £60,000 every week from our shops and not only have we lost that income, but in most cases, we’re also continuing to have to meet rent and other support costs to keep the shops and our donation centre going, so we are able to reopen when it’s safe to do so.”

The hospice had planned to hold an exhibition of its heritage to mark the anniversary, but that has also been postponed.

Instead the hospice is aiming to celebrate in April 2021 on the 35th anniversary of the official opening by the Queen Mother.

Mr Jarman-Howe said: “Celebrations of our 35th year may have been put on hold for now but this is still the time to say thank you to the people who had the vision and those who gave their time and energy to develop an important organisation for those who need care and support in our communities.

“As we reflect on our history, we must also look forward to the future.

“As an organisation, we pride ourselves on tailoring our care to the needs of the community and our response to the pandemic was no different as we rapidly and significantly adapted our model of care to ensure we could provide the best possible care to local people at the end of life whilst helping to ease the pressure on the NHS.

“We are only still here, 35 years later, because of the dedication and support of the people of north Essex.

“We couldn’t continue to provide our expert and vital care to people facing incurable illness and bereavement without you.

“If you’re able to, please help us secure our future so we can be here for another 35 years, by donating our urgent appeal.”

To donate, visit

l Memories and stories of the people involved from the hospice’s inception are being recorded for an exhibition and online archive in heritage project.

The hospice would like to hear from anyone with a story to share about its early days. Email