Win £1,000 with Camelot. See this week's Recorder

On sale October 16

St Francis Hospice 30for30: ‘It has been a privilege’ says nursing chief on retirement

14:07 16 March 2014

Saint Francis Hospice nurse Cecilia O

Saint Francis Hospice nurse Cecilia O'Keefe.


As we continue our 30for30 appeal, Cecilia O’keefe talks about her time at the hospice and says she couldn’t have chosen a better career.

How to donate

Donate online through our Just Giving page by following the link below or contact the hospice fundraising team on 01708 771407.

Alternatively you could send a cheque made payable to Saint Francis Hospice: Saint Francis Hospice, The Hall, Havering-atte-Bower, RM4 1QH.

Please write “Recorder/Post appeal” on the back.

After 16 years at the hospice and a decade in its day therapy unit, Cecilia O’Keefe made the bittersweet decision to hang up her nurse’s uniform and retire.

As the unit’s nurse manager, she was responsible for seven members of staff and about 80 patients, but that didn’t get in the way of Cecilia loving the job.

“I couldn’t have chosen a better career,” she said. “I’ve loved every minute of it. Meeting so many wonderful people has been a privilege and an honour.

“One of my favourite parts of the job is watching the transformation in patients after they have been here a while.

“They come to us so low but it’s such a pleasure after a few weeks with our counsellors, psychologists, physiotherapists and chaplains to watch them blossom like a flower. It can change their outlook and lighten their mood mixing with other people in the same situation as them.

“If somebody has a life-limiting illness we may not be able to cure it but we can help them to live again,” she added.

Cecilia started at the in-patient ward in 1998 but has spent the majority of her years at Saint Francis in the newly named day therapy unit.

The day therapy service is an integral part of the hospice’s work in the community. It enables patients who do not require an inpatient unit bed to use the hospice and its multi-professional team for specialist advice and support.

Over the last year the service has been enhanced to reflect the changing needs of patients who have told the hospice they would like to use its services for a short period without disrupting their normal daily life.

Cecilia talks highly of the hospice’s founder, Joan Matthews, and considers herself lucky to have worked with such a “passionate and inspirational” woman.

After leaving the hospice she said she will miss the supportive environment and will be especially sad to say goodbye to colleagues, volunteers and patients. “I’ll always keep in contact with the hospice,” Cecilia added.

“I’m not sure how exactly, yet – but I know I will always want to stay involved and to help as much as I can.”

Related articles


Latest Stories

16 minutes ago
Hornchurch manager Jimmy McFarlane (pic: George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

Hornchurch boss insists Phoenix won’t be taken lightly despite FA cup heroics

Romford manager Paul Martin and assistant Mark Lord (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Boro boss hoping team can complete a league double over Waltham Abbey tonight

Ravi Bopara with his old team and action from the Oakfield Parkonians Cricket Club

England all-rounder agrees new two-year deal with the Eagles

Darren Currie of Dagenham & Redbridge (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Dagenham & Redbridge coach reveals struggle to name team

Great Britain beat France in their first match at the BT Wheelchair Rugby World Challenge at the Copper Box

A round-up of the action on day one at the Copper Box

Released CCTV images.

CCTV images have been released of two youths police would like to identify after a 12-year-old boy was threatened in a subway in Romford.

Ben with one of his furniture designs

An innovative Hornchurch designer has been chosen to showcase his work at one of the world’s top design events.

Jack Barry made 228 appearances for Romford and captained the club for a number of seasons (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo).

Thamesmead Town midfielder reflects on 2-1 win against Boro, playing against his brother and how his old club will get on this year

Breaking News

Yesterday, 08:19

Ernest Jones in The Liberty Shopping centre was broken into this morning.

Read more

Most read

News from your area


Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.


Amazon: Everything you want to buy all in one place!

With £1,500 to spend online at Amazon, there’s really nothing you can’t buy.

You'll be stocked up on toiletries  for a while!

Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more.

Digital Edition

Read the Romford Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder