The past few days have, quite rightly, seen innumerable tributes to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for her decades of service and commitment to this nation and beyond.
Many commentators have remarked upon how different the world is now to when she became Queen and praised her ability to provide continuity, but also recognise the need for appropriate change.
As one such example, it might surprise some to learn that when she came to the throne, the hospice movement as we know it today was not in existence. This is not to decry the work of the likes of St Joseph’s and Trinity Hospices whose history goes back well over a hundred years. However, it was only in 1967 that St Christopher’s Hospice, the first ‘modern hospice’ opened in south London. In subsequent decades, literally hundreds of hospice and end of life care services have been set up around the country – and thousands all across the world.
The Queen was always a great supporter of the sector. I have no idea how many hospice visits she undertook in her lifetime, but I suspect the number went well into three figures.
However, how appropriate it is that her last one was in July to officially open Thames Hospice’s new 28 bed state of the art facility, just a short distance from Windsor Castle. That was her fourth visit to them alone.