WHEN Jenny Bulman gathered a handful of caring people around her kitchen table in Droitwich Spa more than 30 years ago, little did she know of the thousands that would be helped by the charity they started.

The town GP began St Richard's Hospice, which this year marks it 30th anniversary of offering specialist care for patients and their families living with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

From very small beginnings, the vision of a few to set up a hospice in the south of Worcestershire became a reality. The Worcester-based charity now boasts 185 staff and 1,200 volunteers.

Chairman of governors, John Bawden, said: “Everyone within our community should feel proud of their part in ensuring St Richard’s has been able to grow and meet the increasing needs of those living with cancer and other life-threatening illness. Throughout the years our total focus has always been with the patient and their family. This remains our top priority as we look to the future.

“When we opened the new hospice and the in-patient unit in 2006, we achieved a complete package of care for our patients. Whether they need to receive 24-hour in-patient care, home care from our specialist nurses, visits to the day hospice, or support from our team or complimentary therapists, St Richard’s is here to help.

“As we celebrate it is right to thank those founders who sat around a kitchen table in Droitwich and had the vision to build St Richard’s for the benefit of local people. Their hopes and dreams have been achieved and surpassed but we have always endeavoured to hold strong to their vision that love, care and compassion should be at the forefront of everything we do.

“We have wonderful supporters who allow St Richard’s to continue caring. It is for us, the people of Worcestershire, to ensure that St Richard’s Hospice is here in the years to come to continue the care for patients and their loved ones.”

St Richard’s supports 2,400 patients and family members every year and all the services are free. The hospice relies on donations to raise 70 per cent of funds needed, with the remaining 30 per cent provided by the NHS.

St Richard’s chief executive Mark Jackson added: “We are looking forward to opening our expanded and redeveloped in-patient unit in April this year, which will allow us to care for even more patients. The changes also mean we can offer greater privacy in more single rooms.

“Our Hospice at Home team is growing to meet demand from patients wanting support in their own homes – very much bringing us full circle to when the hospice first started.”

A brief history of St Richard’s Hospice:

1984 – St Richard’s began from the Droitwich home of one of its founders, Dr Jenny Bulman.

1985 – It moved to a terraced house in Castle Street, Worcester.

1987 – The Day Hospice opens 1991 – St Richard’s moves to Rose Hill, a Georgian house in Worcester and services expand. Officially opened by Diana, Princess of Wales.

1995 – First St Richard’s charity shop opened in Mealcheapen Street, Worcester. There are now 18.

2004 – Launch of £5.2m New Hospice Appeal.

2006 – First patients in the new hospice at Wildwood Drive. Officially opened by HRH The Duke of Kent.

2011 – Snowdrop Community Centre opens 2014 – Expanded and redeveloped in-patient unit due to open in April.

For more information visit strichards.org.uk or call 01905 763963.