HOSPICE staff and patients have celebrated three decades of ‘bright and positive’ end-of-life care in Blackburn.

Saturday was the 30th anniversary of East Lancashire Hospice, with the annual Sunflower Appeal being launched to mark the milestone.

Chairman Audrey Platt said the hospice had changed dramatically since she first visited as a doctor in the mid-1980s, with 10 individual rooms now complemented by a host of support services.

She said: “The first time I visited the hospice was almost 30 years ago, as a doctor seeing a patient.

“That patient had cancer and was looked after in a small bay and the beds were separated by curtains. This was a new service and the nurses were thrilled to be part of it.

“Thirty years on the building has grown, the facilities are modern and we are supported by many, many volunteers.

“Our watchword is still ‘caring with compassion’.

“Even now, some people imagine the hospice to be negative and depressing, (but) on the contrary it is bright and positive. We are here to enrich life, however short, and enable people to die in dignity.”

The hospice was founded by Dr Merton Seigleman – who was just 16 when he watched his mother die in pain from a vicious cancer in 1939.

It became an independent charity in 2008, which means it is heavily reliant on fundraising efforts and donations from the public.

The next development at Park Lee Road will be the newly designed garden, which is due to fully open in September.

There was a ceremony at the hospice on Saturday afternoon to mark the anniversary, with dozens of people making donations to have the name of a loved one displayed on a wooden sunflower.