VIDEO: Douglas Macmillan Hospice at 40- 'Hospital bed was my office'
WITHOUT 93-year-old Marjorie Machin it's likely there would never have been a Douglas Macmillan Hospice.
Marjorie, who has given more than five decades to helping the hospice, was the founder administrator of the original appeal and helped to raise the hundreds of thousands of pounds needed to get it off the ground.
During those 50 years Marjorie has survived two bouts of cancer, been awarded an MBE and fulfilled roles varying from hospice receptionist to chairman.
Now living in Basford, Marjorie is an Honorary Vice President. She stepped down from her last volunteer role as a receptionist in 2010 – aged 90.
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She said: "My involvement with the Douglas Macmillan began in 1969 after a phone call from a local architect, George Greeves, who I had previously done freelance secretarial work for and who knew that I was involved with the British Red Cross Society. From 1969 to 1970 I became involved with Dr Derek Meredith Brown, a cancer consultant investigating the local area for a site which would be suitable for staff, patients and visitors. We were joined by local professionals, including surveyors, architects and doctors.
"I travelled with Dr Brown to London, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh during 1970-71 to visit homes for the terminally ill. Back then there were very few such homes. Dr Brown introduced me to Dr Cicely Sanders (later Dame Saunders), the founder of St Christopher's Hospice, London, who offered our small group a residential volunteer placement at the hospice which would allow me to work there for six months so that we could gain knowledge of the service we were aiming to provide for terminally ill cancer patients.
"I was then travelling to London each Monday and returning home at weekends with a weekly report on what I had learned.
"In October 1971, I was appointed administrator of the original appeal for the hospice here in Stoke-on-Trent – aiming to raise £330,000 in 10 years. The local response was tremendous and the target was achieved in just four years.
"In May, 1972 I was diagnosed with bowel cancer which required major surgery and a one month stay in hospital. My hospital bed became my office and with daily visits from my PA the appeal continued.
"I resigned my paid position as administrator and was immediately invited to join the Steering Committee and Association Committee and I have been a volunteer since then. My main role was visiting factories and clubs, giving talks and collecting cheques.
"The home was built and opened in January, 1973 and I was involved in day care with handicrafts. I also used to give manicures to people in the in-patient unit. From then on, in addition to direct contact with patients, I was fortunate to be given opportunities in the running of the home and later the hospice.
"In 1990 I served as director of Douglas Macmillan Enterprises which involved the running and development of the hospice shops, which were worthwhile and profitable.
"Then in 1991 I was elected chairman, which involved the day-to-day running of the hospice. My term of office ended in 1996 and I was elected Honorary President, an appointment from which I retired after five years.
"During 2009 I experienced my second bout of cancer from which I recovered well. I then worked as a voluntary receptionist – retiring from that position at the age of 90.
"I am now Honorary Vice President and my interest in the hospice is as deep and sincere as it was in 1969."