Above left, launching the Vale of Aylesbury Hospice Appeal in 1986, Barbara Lucas prepares to swim 1,000 metres at Champneys Tring, and right, back at Champneys to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Hospice

On New Year’s Day in 1986, the Vale of Aylesbury Hospice Appeal founder Mrs Barbara Lucas launched what became a huge local effort to raise money for a new Hospice to serve Aylesbury Vale.

On Monday 7th January 2019 at 8.30am, Barbara rewound the clock and was back once again at Champneys Tring to commemorate the 30 years since the Hospice opened. She was joined by a group of volunteers, supporters and staff in swimming 30 lengths of the Champneys pool.

After Barbara launched the campaign in 1986, community groups and individuals all round Aylesbury invented crazy fundraising challenges, roping in celebrities, holding summer fayres, raffles and fashion shows to pay for a new hospice. You name it, people were doing it to raise money to build a hospice in Aylesbury – and it was all recorded in the Bucks Herald each week.

Barbara Lucas started the campaign to bring hospice care to Buckinghamshire, after the experience of her father dying in hospital.

“I was aware of the pressure on the nursing staff in particular. And also on the other patients where there were dying patients within the Wards,” Barbara says. “I felt there was a much better place for them to be where the nursing staff would have time for them and it wasn’t impinging on the care that they had to give the other patients.”

The Hospice Appeal target in 1986 was £500,000, which is the equivalent of £1.3 million today, and it must have seemed like a mountain to climb. But Barbara Lucas believed that the people of Aylesbury could achieve it.

“I was confident in the community of Aylesbury that once they knew the purpose of a hospice that they would respond accordingly. And they did,” she says.

“In 2019 Florence Nightingale Hospice Charity is celebrating three decades of incredible community support for the Hospice, and commemorating the support and care given by the Hospice staff through three decades,” said FNHC CEO Jo Turner. “We are very grateful to Champneys Tring for allowing us to re-create the launch Swimathon here to kick off this very special year for the Hospice.”

Below: Charity and Hospice staff and Volunteers joined Barbara to swim 30 lengths as a relay – while Mark Duncan, owner of Midnight Walk sponsor acar2go, swam 30 lengths on his own to raise £530 for the Hospice