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  • 18 September 2017

An award-winning former hospice chief has returned to volunteer for the charity after a 15-year absence – supporting reception and recruitment.

Maureen Gill, now 71, has spent the last 15 years helping to set up hospices in Siberia, Russia, after leaving her post as Director of South Bucks Hospice in 2002.

Mrs Gill, from Marlow, was so successful helping terminally-ill people in Siberia that her work earned her a medal from the Russian Government for her compassion and commitment to healthcare. She was the first non-Russian to be given this award.

During her time in Russia, Maureen was also presented with the "Research in Nursing" award by the Federation of Russian Nurses Association, which she admits she is very proud of this achievement.

Now she has returned to the UK and her former employers – as a volunteer on the reception desk at the newly-opened Butterfly House in High Wycombe. The charity was recently renamed The South Bucks Community Hospice as part of its move to the new £4.8m building, and Mrs Gill decided it was time to make a comeback.

“I felt it was important to keep giving something back to the hospice movement,” she said. “Now I have retired, I have some spare time and I feel reception is incredibly important. It is the gateway to the hospice where people come in with any anxieties they may have.”

Mrs Gill left the hospice in 2002, after three years as its Director, as a result of her work in Siberia. Until then, she had been in charge of the charity, working directly under the supervision of the trustees. But when she was offered the chance to go to Russia, she felt it unfair to continue as hospice director, even though she was originally told she could go on secondment.

Mrs Gill has been a key note speaker at conferences in major Russian cities such as St Petersburg, Perm, Kemerovo and Novosibirsk, and was asked to join a committee to draw up health standards in the country. She says when she arrived in Siberia, there was very little palliative care there – but seven units have now been established.

She has won a number of awards for her nursing work over the year including Royal College of Nursing international nurse of the year in 2000 and palliative care nurse of the year in 2005.

Jo Woolf, Chief Executive Officer of The South Bucks Community Hospice, said: “We are thrilled that someone of Maureen’s calibre has returned to us. She is a shining example of someone who wants to give something back to the community and we are delighted to have her as the welcoming face of the hospice on our reception desk.”

Mrs Gill also penned an article highlighting the history of the charity and the work of its legendary founder Edie Pusey.

She wrote: “It is sad indeed that Edie Pusey is not alive today to see her dream come true but we, at the Hospice, will not forget her embryonic beginnings based only on determination and hope. We will each strive at Butterfly House to keep her dream alive and promote her ethos of Palliative Care, free at the point of delivery, for all who may need it.”

To see Maureen Gill’s full article, go to https://www.sbh.org.uk/blog/the-south-bucks-hospice-edie-pusey-house-and-butterfly-house