History of a hospice – complete with mountain dogs and elephants – South London News

A hospice has put together an exhibition of unique oral history recordings covering six decades of the home’s work. 

The Voices that Shaped Us can be visited on Saturday, August 6 at St Christopher’s CARE in Lawrie Park Road, Sydenham. Entry is free and it’s open from 11am until 4pm. 

The hospice received National Lottery Heritage funding for the project, and a small team of staff and volunteers recorded more than 70 interviews with nurses, social workers, hospice volunteers, fundraisers, doctors, administrators, patients, family members, maintenance staff and students. 

These interviews shed light on the early days at the hospice, daily life on the wards, changes in procedures and attitudes, and the challenges faced by the organisation over the past 55 years.

The interviews, images and information graphics from the show will be preserved for the future at St Christopher’s CARE and at the King’s College London Archive.  

They will be available for researchers and for anybody interested in learning more about the history of hospices, hospice care and attitudes towards death and dying in the second half of the 20th century. 

Expect some colourful and unpredictable testimonies. In one, welfare officer Laura Bechelet says: “Some people would have their animals visiting. One time we had somebody from a large circus family and we had an elephant in the car park come and see him.  

“In the nursery, we used to have two large Bernese mountain dogs that pulled a little cart around the gardens and would take the kids for rides.” 

The picture backs her story. 

Pictured top: Date uncertain but probably the 70s or early 1980s, a scene outside the hospice (Picture: St Christopher’s Hospice)


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