THE first matron of Barnsley Hospice – whose ‘forward-thinking’ approach laid the foundations for the charity to this day – has died after a battle against dementia.

Ann Vaughan died on June 18 at 84 years old, leaving three children Mark Vaughan, Sharon Huntley and Ceri Lloyd.

An experienced nurse, she served as the first matron of Barnsley Hospice 30 years ago, when the charity was just starting.

“She was employed really early on, while they were still in the planning stages,” Sharon said.

“So she really helped lay the model for how it works.

“I think she was very forward-thinking – she came in with lots of experience of palliative care.

“It was her baby, she would drive from Horsforth every day to go to work.

“She was passionate about it, she looked for shop sites and met with volunteers who were joining.”

Despite living so far away, Ann became a part of the local community, integrating with people in the town who would become friends for life.

The hospice chaplain at the time, Rev Paul Bettison, is even leading the service at her funeral on July 17, as the two remained close throughout the years.

Sharon added: “She made friendships and important connections that lasted throughout her life.

“It was only when her dementia got really bad that she started losing touch with them.

“I’m sure there are plenty of people who will still remember her.

“She used to take her two dogs in to work with her – they’d sleep in the office all day.”

When asked to describe her, Rev Paul said that the only words that came to mind were ‘professional, passionate, encouraging, visionary and overall fun’.

“I met her when the hospice first opened,” he added. “I was visiting someone at Barnsley Hospital – I already had an interest in palliative care so when I saw the hospice had opened I went in.

“That’s when Ann met me – she was lovely, gave me time to talk with her and eventually asked if I’d like to join the committee to talk about spiritual care.

“Since then I’ve taken on palliative chaplaincy full time, so she had a major impact across my life.

“It’s a testament to her that it was 30 years ago when I first met her, I was out of the area for 21 years and still remember her so well.”

Ross Fletcher, director of nursing and allied health professionals at Barnsley Hospice, said: “Everyone here at Barnsley Hospice is extremely saddened to learn that our first matron, Ann Vaughan, has died.

“Our heartfelt condolences go out to Ann’s friends and family at this difficult time.

“Ann was an incredibly important part of the hospice’s history, and the news of her death is made even more poignant as it comes in the week marking 30 years since the hospice first opened.

“In the seven years that Ann was at Barnsley Hospice, her contributions to the hospice and the local community were immeasurable – it is plain to see from the Barnsley Chronicle articles we have from that time and the testimonials from staff and volunteers who worked alongside Ann, that she was a real driving force in ensuring that the people of Barnsley could access specialist palliative and end of life care.

“While Ann was at the hospice, we opened our doors to patients for the very first time when we launched our Day Hospice in June 1994 and helped to secure lottery funding to build an inpatient unit to ensure we could provide 24/7 care, which opened in 2001 shortly after Ann left.

“Ann and her loved ones will remain in our thoughts as we continue to reflect on the difference Barnsley Hospice has made over the last 30 years.”