A special anniversary marking the start of the Island’s ‘hospice story’ is being celebrated by Mountbatten this year.

It is 45 years since hospice care first became available to people living on the Isle of Wight, following the opening of Southampton’s Countess Mountbatten Hospice, in 1977.

Many people are unaware that Countess Mountbatten was the local hospice for Islanders for five years, before the then Earl Mountbatten Hospice opened in 1982.

Islanders even played a pivotal role in the opening of the mainland facility, with the ‘efforts and contributions of the people of south Hampshire and the Isle of Wight’ still acknowledged on a wall-mounted plaque in its entrance.

Today, the two hospices work in partnership, sharing expertise and best practice, though they remain independent and supported by the respective communities they serve. The organisations will team up in 2022 to mark the anniversary.

“When Countess Mountbatten hospice opened in 1977, it was the start of the hospice story on the Island,” said Nigel Hartley, Mountbatten CEO.

“It is extraordinary in many ways, that 45 years after Southampton opened a hospice for Islanders, we now work closely to enhance and develop hospice care for the city and its surrounding areas.

“Our innovation and expertise led us to starting the partnership, and the Island should be very proud of our model of hospice care, and the reputation we hold as an outstanding care provider.

“The relationship we have with our community is at the heart of all of it.

“We want to use this anniversary to continue telling our hospice story on the Island, as we find new ways of reaching and supporting people who need us here.”

Events will be held throughout the year, including a torch-bearing run between the Isle of Wight and Hampshire hospices, a special regatta in Cowes and a party at Mountbatten, which will be open to every member of ther Island community.

The run will take place on March 17 and will involve Mountbatten staff running from one hospice to the other, via a Red Funnel ferry.

Meanwhile, Island artist Lisa Traxler is making a special torch for the runners to carry along the route, before it is displayed in the hospice as a permanent acknowledgement of the anniversary.

Gala dinners and a service at Newport Minster are also being planned.

A 45th anniversary logo has been designed to commemorate the occasion focussing on ’45 years of kindness’ and will be used during the year.