Search

St Francis Hospice 30for30: Founder Joan Matthews spent her final hours in the hospice she made possible

12:00 15 March 2014

Joan Matthews in 2010

Joan Matthews in 2010

Archant

As we continue our 30for30 appeal we profile its founder Joan Matthews and discover how the hospice all started with a five pound note.

Donate here:

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.

It was through her work at Havering Community Health Council that Joan Matthews first noticed the need for a hospice in 1977.

She wasted no time and dug deep in her pockets to get the plan in motion.

“Peter Smith [fellow volunteer] and I had a meeting at Dr Dorothy Rule’s flat in Hornchurch to talk about registering as a charity so that we could start fundraising,” she said during an interview in 2008.

“When we finished the meeting we dipped into our purses and each put a £5 note on the table.

“It was significant because those were the first funds collected.”

Joan was instrumental in setting up fundraising groups to finance its development.

Fundraising

In 1978 she identified

Havering Hall in Havering-atte-Bower as a suitable location and went on to raise £350,000 for the building to begin in 1982.

Over the years Joan worked tirelessly to see the hospice grow into one of the largest in the UK.

Gill Wendelken, 55, the hospice’s voluntary services manager, worked with Joan from the beginning and described her as “a magnet who managed to pull people to the project”.

She added: “Anybody who stopped and listened to her, you could just see them change.

“She spoke with such conviction and love for the service.”

Today the hospice provides more than 3,000 people from Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge, Brentwood and Havering with medical and emotional care and support each year.

From 1988 until 2011 Joan was a volunteer chaplain’s assistant and regularly visited the patients relying on the facilities.

Despite her involvement in the hospice, the badge she wore simply read “Joan – volunteer”, a label that encapsulated her modest, humble personality.

In 2007 she received a prestigious Order of Mercy award from the League of Mercy Foundation for her care for the sick, the elderly and the dying.

Passion

She supervised many changes to the hospice over the years and was on the board of trustees from 1978, going on to be the hospice’s only Founder Trustee in 2011.

Joan cared passionately about the hospice until her final moments, asking chief executive Pam Court about its latest developments as she lay on her death bed.

She died peacefully on-site on April 22, 2013, transferring from Southend Hospital so she could spend her final moments in the establishment she had devoted her life to creating.

Related articles

0 comments

Latest Romford News Stories

Yesterday, 21:04
The former Mecca Bingo building, High Street, Hornchurch, is now owned by supermarket chain Lidl

Plans to tear down a historic art deco building and much-loved former bingo hall have been approved by a council committee tonight.

Yesterday, 18:00
Cafe assistant Charlotte Moore with Samuel, Henry and Jessica Owens and their  jelly made at the Rainham Hall event

Did you know? In the 18th century, jelly was a fashionable dish.

Yesterday, 17:51
Whybridge Infant School has had a classroom extended outside of planning permission.

The council has been accused of double standards after it pushed ahead with extending a classroom without planning permission.

Yesterday, 13:08
Pupils at Redden Court School in Romford celebrating GCSE results

The headteacher and students at Redden Court School are celebrating their “best ever” GCSE results this morning.

Yesterday, 12:53

Students and staff have been celebrating at St Edward’s Church of England School after they recorder a 15 per cent increase in A* to C grades.

Yesterday, 12:37
Students at Raphael School this morning

The headteacher of Raphael School is celebrating as his students achieved 100 per cent A* to C grades at GCSE, including English and maths.

Yesterday, 11:52
Police want to speak to this man

A man is being sought after a 24-year-old was punched in the face by a stranger on the 174 bus.

Yesterday, 10:50
A computer generated image of how a street in the Dovers Corner development may look. Image: Persimmon Homes

Plans to build 396 homes on an industrial estate are due to be considered by the council’s committee tonight.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

News from your area

WW100

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

Competitions

You could win £15,000 to spend on either their mortgage or a deposit towards the home of their dreams

Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a period of time when you simply don’t have to worry about finding the money each month to pay your mortgage? When you don’t have to put money aside from your monthly income, or worry about having to afford other essential outgoings?

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate that one lucky winner will receive four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All runners up will get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now