Thirty years ago on 14 October 1991 HRH The Princess of Wales officially opened Katharine House Hospice. Since then, the hospice has met the emotional, physical and medical needs of thousands of people affected by life-limiting illnesses.  

Katharine Gadsby was just 20 years old when she lost her life to cancer.

Her death set her father, Neil, and friends on a six-year journey to raise enough funds to build a place that cares for people during their toughest times.

Thirty years later and Katharine House Hospice is now an established, essential part of the community.

A word from our founder

“It is very satisfying to look back over thirty years and know that the hospice has made a positive change to the care of more than eleven thousand people who have turned to Katharine House for support, and I pay tribute to the skilled and dedicated staff who have been involved over these three decades.

“These years have witnessed many changes as the hospice has evolved, none greater than the recent partnership with Oxford University NHS Trust.  But I am confident that one thing will never change - the Katharine House philosophy which puts people at the heart of all we do.

“Of course, there is one further fundamental thing which must not change – the symbiotic relationship with the community which ensured that the hospice thrived.  In thirty years as chairman of the charity I witnessed so much supportive endeavour which future generations will need to maintain, as I am sure they will.”

Neil Gadsby MBE, Founder President

“The hospice is somewhere that instantly lifts the spirits. The building was designed to nestle gently into the landscape and somehow that sense of ‘being held’ transmitted itself as I walked through the building for the first time. When Katharine House cared for my father, he called it ‘the best place - the rolls Royce of hospices.’” Lucy Cross, friend of Katharine and Katharine House Hospice volunteer

The birth and growth of Katharine House Hospice

  • January 1985 Charity formed

  • 1985-1990 Friends and trustees led on fundraising to help build the hospice. As the hospice was being built, the first service of bereavement care began within the community.

  • December 1990 Katharine House Hospice building completed.
  • February 1991 First Day Hospice patient received.
  • October 1991 Hospice officially opened by HRH The Princes of Wales.

  • May 1992 First six inpatient beds opened.
  • July 1992 Hospice gardens created in memory of Simon Weatherby and designed by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall, officially opened by Richard Baker.

  • Summer 1994 Took over the local Macmillan nurse service as the basis for our Katharine House Community Nurse specialist team.
  • Autumn 1994 Four additional inpatient beds opened – now totalling 10 beds.
  • 1995 Specialist lymphoedema clinic established.
  • 2000 Horton General Hospital support formalised.
  • 2005 Bereavement support service extends outreach to children and teenagers.
  • 2009 New Day Hospice building opened.

  • 2017 Community Nursing Service extended from five to seven days a week.
  • 2019 New Living Well service launched.

  • April-June 2020: the hospice becomes a Covid response unit.
  • 2020 Launch of Volunteer Companion Service.
  • April 2021 New partnership with Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust to manage Katharine House clinical services.
  • May 2021: Angharad Orchard steps down as CEO of Katharine House and Trevor Johnson starts.

Time to celebrate

To celebrate the last 30 years and the 30 years to come, we will be organising special activities over 12 months in 2021-22. We’ll keep you posted with our plans as they develop, so please keep on returning to this page.

In the meantime, we’re bringing together stories of people’s involvement with the hospice from patients, their families, volunteers and staff, over the past years. We’ll be using them on the website and throughout the 12 months of celebration. If you have a hospice story that you would like to share, please get in touch by emailing: [email protected].

Katharine House Hospice