charity makes first dig towards new hospice for southend


09 October 2018

Southend’s only adult hospice has officially started building works on a new site which will care for twice as many people.

On Monday 8th October the first official dig took place for a new Fair Havens Hospice during a ‘Turning of the Sod’ ceremony at the new site in Priory Crescent, Southend. Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Jennifer Tolhurst, had the honour of making the first dig alongside Sophie Gander, 24, from Southend, whose Mum Pauline was cared for at Fair Havens before she died there on 10th May 2013.

The ceremony took place following a blessing of the site by Bishop Stephen Cottrell and words from founder of Fair Havens Hospice, Daphne Hall MBE; Chair of the Trustees, Richard Player, and Sophie Gander.

Daphne said,

“I can remember how exciting it was to be able to share our original vision with so many people all those years ago. We really felt it was a vision from God and I’m amazed at how things have grown and developed over the years. Not just the first building in 126 Chalkwell Avenue but then the continuing care service which is now Hospice at Home, Day Hospice, purchasing of 124 Chalkwell Avanue, Stuart House, Little Havens, The J’s Hospice and so it goes on until we’re here today.

“I’d like to thank lots of people, firstly the Trustees because over the years the Trustees have never said ‘I can’t do that, it’s too big’. They’ve always said; ‘if it’s part of the original vision and there is a need, we’ve got to get on and do it’. Then you can’t talk about anybody else apart from the Care Staff at both hospices and in the community who have just given their time, their energy, their compassion to the work and so many people have benefitted from that. But they wouldn’t be able to do that without all of the people who support them. People in the offices, in the shops and in the community, they’ve all had a part to play.

“A very big thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the work that you have been part of and that you have helped to develop.”


Sophie said,

“I feel so proud to be able to stand here today and witness the first step towards a new Fair Havens Hospice. When my mum was first diagnosed with Cancer in 2006 I never even knew what a hospice was or how they help people, until my mum needed the care of Fair Havens.

“My mum, Pauline, died at Fair Havens in May 2013 and the care she and our whole family received is hard to put into words. From the moment we arrived it was instant care and nothing was too much trouble. During her last few days she was unconscious for most of the time but the care team still spoke to her like any other person. The amount of dignity and respect they gave my Mum will always stay with us.

“I know she would be so proud that we are playing even a small part in the future of Fair Havens and ensuring more families like ours can get the care that we got, for years to come.”

Fair Havens Hospice, which is currently based in Chalkwell Avenue, received final planning permission in July this year for the £17.2million project. The new hospice will incorporate 16 in-patient bedrooms, increased Day Hospice services, additional family support and beautifully landscaped gardens and grounds.

Every month, Fair Havens turn away 11 people because the beds are not available for them when they need it. A new Fair Havens will give people in South East Essex a new, modern hospice to turn to when they are facing an illness that cannot be cured and from which they are likely to die.  It’ll provide support for people at all stages of their journey - inside the hospice, within the community or their own home - and care for their family and friends making this journey with them.

Steve Smith, New Fair Havens Project Director, said,

“This is a huge milestone not just for the charity but for the whole community. We always said that we wanted to build a hospice which would last for generations and to see that plan start to come to fruition is extremely exciting. With building work now officially underway we will continue to plan for the future of Fair Havens and that includes raising money to ‘kit out’ the new hospice but also to recruit nurses who want to be part of the future of hospice care in South Essex. Thank you to everyone who has helped us take the next step towards hospice care so far.”

Louise McKay, Ward Sister on the In-Patient Unit at Fair Havens, added,

“Staff have showed incredible resilience over the years but it is more and more challenging to provide modern nursing care in the current building every week that goes past. The state of repair of the building, the challenges of looking after younger patients with bigger families in such a small healthcare environment is quite significant now.

“I really look forward to working in the new Fair Havens building. I look forward to the day that I can come to work and care for patients and their families in an environment that is suitable for their needs and that we don’t have the constant challenges that we have at the moment to overcome.

“My hopes for the future of hospice care are that patients and their families can access it when they need it, where they need it, in a modern healthcare environment. Thankfully today we’re one step closer to that being our reality.”


The building has been designed by architects LSI and building work is taking place by Barnes Construction.

Chris Bruce, Pre-Contracts Director at Barnes Construction said:

“We’re looking forward to supporting the Hospice in the delivery of this modern health facility for the local Southend community. Barnes’s recent track record and experience in delivering other new hospices such as Arthur Rank in Cambridge and EACH in Ipswich means that we can demonstrate our commitment to both the construction of the project, as well as our staff involvement in the various fundraising events that will be taking place in the months ahead.” 

For more information on new Fair Havens Hospice please click here.
Photos courtesy of Anna Lukala

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