Today, Tuesday 6th October 2020, is the 40th anniversary of Mount Edgcumbe Hospice, the first hospice to be built in Cornwall. There should have been parties, celebrations, balls, dinners and speeches, but sadly the Covid-19 pandemic has put a stop to all that. We can however, pay tribute to an extraordinary woman whose dream it was to see Mount Edgcumbe Hospice built.
Enid Dalton-White was an inspirational person, people say if she asked you to do something you didn’t say no! She nursed two husbands through cancer and when she heard about the hospice movement, founded by Dame Cicely Saunders, she set about a plan to open one in Cornwall, her home.
She threw open the gates to her beautiful garden in the little village of Polruan, opposite Fowey, and asked for donations. She devised a campaign to sell imitation bricks at a pound each and she recruited an army of volunteers to visit groups, organisations, events and businesses to help raise the money she needed.
Enid had to find a suitable site for the hospice. It had to be near a main road, in a fairly central location and close to a hospital. Her search led her to Tony and Margaret Geake who had land near Penrice Hospital in St Austell. “Enid was charming and as a result of our meeting we not only gifted the land she needed, but joined her campaign,” says Margaret. “She was phenomenal. She rallied people, she pleaded, cajoled and persuaded. She was determined to make the hospice a reality.”
We have faith, we will do it
Enid was tireless in her work, meeting with potential investors, selling her replica bricks, talking to royalty at Royal Cornwall Show, twisting the arms of local business representatives and harnessing the skills and time of a wide range of tradesmen. She didn’t stop and her reward was the arrival in Cornwall of a brand new hospice. “She always used to say to us we have faith, we will do it”, says Margaret Geake. “Well that faith paid off and our beautiful hospice has served the county so well for 40 years now.”
Enid was awarded the MBE, a truly well-deserved honour for a pioneer of hospice care in Cornwall. That medal and a picture of her with the original model of the hospice taken by the late Fowey photographer, Jim Matthews, was unveiled at a short ceremony at the hospice today where Margaret Geake (pictured below) said of her late friend; “Enid would be so proud, this hospice was her dream and it’s still here helping families facing end-of-life care forty years on.”