Two devoted members of the team at Garden House Hospice who have been part of its success story since the doors first opened have said their farewells after retiring this week.

Both general manager Jenny Lupton and director of nursing and hospice care Sally Alford have completed 25 years of service, and are bowing out during silver anniversary celebrations for the Letchworth-based hospice, which provides care for patients and their families across North Herts and Stevenage.

Jenny, whose role is being taken over by Sue Plummer, a former chief executive at Watford’s Peace Hospice who started work last week, said: “I consider myself truly blessed to have been able to work here.

“Many of the memories I take with me will be of the amazing people I have been privileged to meet, and who have raised money for us.

“You have joined in with our fundraising efforts, supported our shops, climbed mountains, run marathons – each and every one of you has demonstrated a belief in what we do.

“Your support has been incredible and without doubt you are the people who have really made it all possible.

“On behalf of everyone at Garden House, I would like to say thank you to all those donors and supporters who have ensured that care at the hospice has been constantly available for our patients and families over the past 25 years.

“You have helped so many people at such a difficult time in their lives.”

Jenny, who lives in Hitchin, is planning to volunteer as part of the Garden House team in the future – she has a particular passion for the chain of six shops in Stevenage, Hitchin, Letchworth, Baldock and Royston which provide such a crucial revenue stream.

Sally, from Royston, joined Garden House as a staff nurse and was one of those who took part in the first induction course in June 1990.

“I was on duty the day the first patient was admitted into our care,” she said.

“I have been privileged to play my part in a team of dedicated staff and volunteers who have one goal – to give high-quality person-centred care, delivered with sensitivity and compassion.

“As I reflect back on the many patients and families we have supported, they have taught me so much and caused me to reconsider my own personal philosophy.

“There have been a lot of tears but also laughter shared with those we have care for, and the team.

“Garden House is a truly special place, and many people have told me so. It will be a very hard place to leave.”

Both women are full of quiet pride at the way the hospice has expanded from small beginnings, with the Gillison Close building more than doubling in size over the years.

The Hospice@Home team has been introduced, together with other additional therapies, and the hospice has become an integral part of the healthcare system.

But both are adamant that they wouldn’t want to be another part of the National Health Service, believing that the close links that Garden House enjoys with the local community could be threatened if the government decided to foot the entire bill for end of life care.

And that certainty of funding would bring its own headaches, they believe, putting at risk the flexibility they currently enjoy to modify treatment and staffing to suit circumstances without having to answer to someone higher up the care chain.