The Hospice was started in 1976 as a result of a chance meeting some years earlier between Dr Alastair Laing, consultant radiotherapist at the Churchill Hospital and Dr Hughes of the National Society for Cancer Relief (NSCR).
It became evident at an early stage in the planning of the Hospice that an organisation would be necessary to harness and encourage community interest in and support for it. On 1974 a committee for the Friends of Sir Michael Sobell House (later abbreviated as the Friends of Sobell House) was established with Dr Alistair Laing as Acting Chairman.
Sir Michael agreed to become Patron and the Duchess of Marlborough President. In 1975, Lord Trend, Rector of Lincoln College and formerly Secretary of the Cabinet became Chairman. Membership, open to anyone, totalled 60 by June 1975. Charitable status was accorded by the Charity Commission later that year.
Some 4 years later the first Sobell house was handed over thanks to the generous funding of Sir Michael Sobell, the local community of Oxfordshire and the NSCR. 25years after that, the Oxfordshire community, businesses and the Sobell foundation got together again to raise sufficient funding to provide the ‘new’ Hospice that is in operation today. We are very grateful to you for the support you have given us over the last 40 years, and we want to ensure that we are able to provide quality care for the next 40 years and beyond.
One of the first posts that were provided after the medical posts were put in place was that of a voluntary services organiser. The medical staff were convinced of the importance of the community playing its part in caring for the patients. The involvement of volunteers continues to this day with over 350 volunteers supporting patient care, looking after our Hospice garden and giving time in our shops and during fundraising events.
As envisaged, the staff of Sobell House have become increasingly involved in teaching about principles of care, the control of pain and other aspects of hospice work. Some of these commitments are ‘on site’ while others take place in the Medical and Nursing Schools at the John Radcliffe Hospital or at Postgraduate Centres in various part of the surrounding counties.
A research programme has been established. This is aimed at clarifying many unanswered questions in relation to the control of pain and other symptoms, and so to improve the quality of both teaching and clinical practice.