In 1986 the idea of a hospice for terminally ill adults in South Bedfordshire was instigated by Dr. 'Wink' White, a local retired GP.
After five years of planning and fundraising, what was then called the Luton & South Bedfordshire Hospice was built on land generously donated by Mrs Betty Robinson and became operational in April 1991. The building was later extended to create a new, purpose-built day hospice called the Powdrill Centre.
In 1997, the charity launched a £3 million appeal to build a second hospice for children with life-limiting illnesses and their families, initially from Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. Today the children’s hospice also cares for children in Milton Keynes.
Land for the building was again given by Mrs Robinson and a local businessman, Mr Dennis Keech, boosted the appeal with a £1 million donation. Keech Cottage Children’s Hospicee was officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal in March 2000.
Since then, the charity has continued to develop and improve the services it offers to patients and their families across both hospices.
In 2002, work on a specialist hydrotherapy pool was completed, linking the two hospices together.
In the same year, the organisation was renamed ‘The Pasque Charity’. The name, which was chosen with the locally grown Pasque flower in mind, was also applied to the Pasque Adult Hospice. The children’s hospice retained its association with its major benefactor with the name Keech Cottage.
In 2008, the charity began a project to upgrade the adult hospice. Much had changed in palliative care since the adult hospice first opened its doors and the original building was beginning to show its age and limitations for modern care. At around the same time the government made funds available to adult hospices to improve their buildings. The timing couldn't have been better. The charity applied for funds to rebuild the adult inpatient unit. The state-of-the-art facility was designed to better accommodate modern practices in medical and nursing care and promote the maximum levels of comfort and dignity for patients. The unit opened to patients in October 2009.
On 1st October 2009, the charity changed its name to ‘Keech Hospice Care’. Working under the umbrella name ‘The Pasque Charity’ with two separate names for each hospice had been problematic and confusing. The new name was chosen to reflect the strongest elements of the charity’s previous identities – Keech because this was highly recognised in the community; Hospice because this clearly describes the charity’s work; and Care because this is at the centre of the hospice’s values.
In 2010, the government released a second round of funding - this time for adult and children's hospices to improve their buildings and equipment. Once again the charity applied but didn't receive as much as it needed but did get sufficient to refurbish and enlarge the old laundry and complete renew and enlarge the old day hospice. The Day Hospice then became know as the Keech Palliative Care Centre (KPCC) to reflect the wider variety of services it now provides as well as the traditional day hospice care.
In 2013 the charity was pleased to receive funding to refurbish the old kitchen, boilers, dining room and reception - the final part of the plan dreamt up in 2008! These will be complete by 2014.
Going forward and subject to funding, the focus is to improve and extend services and facilities for relatives, friends and visitors of patients using either hospice.
From that first germ of an idea back in 1986, Keech Hospice Care today has grown into one of the region’s most respected and supported charities.