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FROM THE ARCHIVE: Collection highlights the fascinating story of the Highland Hospice

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A leaflet outlining the Highland Hospice Archive Project.
A leaflet outlining the Highland Hospice Archive Project.

Among the collections stored at the Highland Archive Centre are documents associated with the history of the Highland Hospice.

In 2019, the archive centre was delighted to accept the collection of the hospice, which had been carefully sorted and catalogued by a team of volunteers.

The collection of records, photographs and press cuttings document the development of the Highland Hospice from the initial vision to the present day.

In the early 1980s, Cecilia Bottomley and Flora Mackay, both nurses in Culduthel Hospital, in Inverness identified the need for specialist palliative care in the Highlands.

The first Hospice committee was formed in 1983 and Highland Hospice was registered as a charitable company in May 1985.

A fundraising appeal was launched in March 1986 with an initial target of £500,000.

The cover of the programme for A Night of Stars, March 9, 1986.
The cover of the programme for A Night of Stars, March 9, 1986.

Ness House, Inverness originally part of the Royal Northern Infirmary was purchased from the Highland Health Board and plans went ahead to adapt and extend the building for use as the In-patient Unit.

Meanwhile Netley Lodge, the property adjacent to Ness House was also purchased and adapted for use as a Day Hospice. Senior staff comprising General Manager, Matron and Medical Director were appointed allowing the Day Hospice to open in November 1987 and the Inpatient Unit one year later.

In 1988 Highland Hospice Trading Ltd was established to develop thrift and gift shops with a view to providing a secure income stream alongside the ongoing organised and voluntary fundraising.

During the 1990s the clinical team expanded to include a Consultant in Palliative Medicine and two physicians, a physiotherapist, with a holistic approach to palliative care, recognised by both an NHS Healthcare and an Investors in People award.

Ness House was expanded in 1994 and following a successful 10th Anniversary Appeal the new Netley Day Centre and Education Suite was opened by HRH The Princess Royal in 1999, allowing the Hospice to expand its role in providing training and further education courses.

The Hospice’s first conference ‘On the Edge’ took place in 2000 and a major international Conference ‘The Space Between’ was held in 2007 to mark the 20th anniversary.

In 2012, recognising that the existing facilities no longer met the desired standards of contemporary care, the board took the decision to rebuild the Inpatient unit on the current site and an appeal was launched to raise £4.5 million.

Construction work commenced during the summer of 2015 and the new unit comprising 10 fully equipped en-suite rooms became operational in November 2017 – 30 years to the day after the initial opening.

Related: Highland Archive Centre records offer a glimpse into women’s lives in centuries past

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