Slideshow: From a hospital ward to a cherished hospice

Kettering’s Cransley Hospice has been helping make people more comfortable in their final days since it was officially recognised by the NHS in 1995.

Campaigners fighting to save the were celebrating last week when the NHS said they would not withdraw any funding from the facility until alternative charitable sources of money had been found.

Dr John Smith and Alan Connolly of the Rockingham Forest NHS Trust

Dr John Smith and Alan Connolly of the Rockingham Forest NHS Trust

When news that the much-loved hospice may be under threat was made public, the Telegraph was bombarded with letters and emails from people concerned about the announcement that its funding may be cut.

The Telegraph has taken photographs at a number of key moments in the hospice’s history, some of which can be seen here.

The hospice, although it was not known as a hospice then, began life in 1992, when founder Dr John Smith, a consultant in palliative medicine, started to admit terminally ill patients to the Cransley Ward at Kettering’s St Mary’s Hospital.

The Cransley Ward had previously been earmarked for elderly patients and a number of improvements were made – but according to the hospice it was never going to be a suitable environment in which to provide palliative care to the standards to which the Palliative Care Team aspired.

By 1995 however, the then NHS trust in charge of the Cransley Ward acknowledged that the ward had evolved into an eight-bed hospice ward and they gave it official recognition.

Soon after, in 1998, the hospice made a short move when a care home, run by the Extra Care Charitable Trust, called Sunley Court was constructed on the St Mary’s Hospital site.

A wing of Sunley Court was leased to the NHS so it could be run as Cransley Hospice.

These days, the hospice covers the whole of north-Northamptonshire, an area with a population of more than 250,000.

One of the photos shows St Mary’s Hospital as it looked in the mid-1970s. Apart from some landscaping outside the entrance the building looks much the same today as it did then.

Other photos were taken when the construction work was being carried out at Sunley Court, including the ‘topping off’ ceremony which was attended by Dr John Smith and Alan Connolly, chairman of the former Rockingham Forest NHS Trust.

The Telegraph also took photographs at the official opening – by Charles, the 9th Earl Spencer, on November 20, 1998.

Of course, we have also covered numerous fundraising events and cheque presentations for the hospice.