Our History

Learn about our past, present and future.  We have been providing vital care and support, since 1981... but a lot has changed since then, including the move to our new home at Shelford Bottom and the addition of the Alan Hudson Day Treatment Centre (Wisbech) to our services. 

Staff visiting the grounds of the new hospice
Hospice Build
The new hospice complete

Where it all began 

Arthur Rank House was the brainchild of Dr David Bratherton, a therapeutic radiologist at Addenbrookes. Dr Bratherton, inspired by the work of Dame Cicely Saunders, felt that Cambridge needed somewhere better than the wards of the hospital for patients in the final stages of terminal illness. The site at Brookfields, where there had been a hospital since 1883, was chosen. 

May 1981- First Patient 

The first patient was admitted to Arthur Rank House and the Duchess of Kent officially opened the building on 15th October 1981.  

The Charity was founded by Christine McCrum at the same time, originally as a ‘Friends of’ group. The J. Arthur Rank Group of Charities donated £200,000 towards the costs and the Cambridge Cancer Relief Appeal, under the Chairmanship of Sir Francis Pemberton, matched this sum. The outstanding balance (£130,000) was met by the National Society for Cancer Relief and the then Cambridgeshire Area Health Authority (Teaching). 

1995- Extending… 

The Bernard Reiss Centre, again built with charitable funds, was opened in 1995 as an extension to Arthur Rank House. The centre was funded jointly by Cancer Relief Macmillan Fund (who also provided the architects) and the Friends of Arthur Rank House. The £1 million appeal was launched in 1993, and just two years later the extension was formally opened by the Marchioness of Zetland. 

1 August 2015- Independence  

After a long period of planning and much hard work, the hospice became independent on 1 August 2015. We receive a contribution from the NHS allowing us to have greater control and maximise the impact of our funds to ensure our patients and their families receive the best possible care. This was an important step towards our goal of opening a new purpose-built Hospice. 

11 November 2016- New Home 

Our brand new £10.5 million state-of-the-art facility opened to patients. The building which was designed with great consideration for the patient’s need, whilst the vastly improved facilities allow for increased service capacity. 

On the last day of delivering services at the original Hospice and as a lasting legacy, we welcomed staff to lay a time capsule before walking as a group to our new home.  

19 January 2018- Officially opened  

We were delighted that His Royal Highness, the Earl of Wessex Prince Edward officially opened our new home on 19 January 2018. As well as visiting day therapy and the Inpatient Unit, he chatted to patients and staff (who were thrilled to meet him), signed our Founders Book and unveiled a plaque to mark the special occasion.