Sheffield St Luke’s Hospice began with enthusiasm – and some opposition

The idea of building the first hospice outside of London actually dated back to the late 1960s when Professor Eric Wilkes, the founder of St Luke’s and for many years its medical director, identified the need for palliative care in the Sheffield area.

But his tireless enthusiasm and determination to bring the hospice movement to Sheffield – and also make St Luke’s the first hospice in Yorkshire and the North – did not receive the reception we might imagine.

One Sheffield press feature, openly opposed to the idea of palliative care was headlined: “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.”

But the people of Sheffield did support the concept and without their enormous enthusiasm and fundraising support, the building of St Luke’s would never have been accomplished.

It was on October 1, 1971 that St Luke’s finally opened its doors to its first patients and a much-loved Sheffield institution was born.

Since then, St Luke’s has remained a pioneer in hospice care, extending its services beyond its Little Common Lane and taking its support directly into homes across the city.

Visitors over the decades have included the Duchess of Kent and the Duchess of Devonshire, the Duke of Gloucester and, in 1984, Diana, Princess of Wales.

These images capture just a sense of the way that St Luke’s continues to grow as it meets the needs of Sheffield people and their families as they face the challenge of living with life-threatening illnesses.

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The Star