Skip to content

It started with a sock!

“Hospices are often developed after years of planning and fundraising but not in Cransley’s case. Overnight would be an exaggeration but only just.”

Whilst working as a Consultant, Dr John Smith would randomly be given donations from people within the community to support patients receiving palliative and end of life care in the Cransley ward and he would keep these donations in a sock in his draw so that it was “safe” and could be used for patients as needed.

“When I was appointed Consultant in Palliative Medicine in 1995 the county had only one hospice, Cynthia Spencer in Northampton. It soon became apparent that patients from this end of the county with serious and complex problems at the end of their lives had little chance of being admitted there.

Whilst walking through St. Mary’s Hospital with Linda Morrison, a Macmillan nurse, we spotted 2 half empty long stay wards; Cransley and Pytchley, strangely homely with wallpaper on the walls and flowered duvets on the beds. “That would make a nice hospice ward” we said aloud pointing to Cransley.

“Within a week the ward sister was on the phone saying I could have 4 beds. It was wonderfully crazy, and a week later I admitted a patient and soon I was filling the ward. The nursing staff adapted and were magnificent, as they are today, because it is skilled care that matters and always will. And yet, Cransley was a strange little ward. There wasn’t even a proper bathroom and the armchairs would have looked better on a skip!

“Within a year £100,000 was raised to modernise and convert the ward, and Cransley became what it was in all but name. No planning, no massive fundraising appeals and no years of anticipation.

“To be honest it wasn’t adequate. Excellent inpatient care, but there was no room for out-patients, our specialist nurses, and no room for family support and counselling. All important components of palliative care in the hospice and the community.  When Extracare won the contract for managing the long stay patients in St Mary’s in a new building, Sunley Court, I asked if they could build a new Cransley alongside. To my surprise they agreed. And in 1998 Cransley Hospice opened.

25 years on we remember all those patients and families that have received the excellent care and support.


Skip to content