‘I’ll retire when we are back in Trinity’

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THE woman who has led St Columba’s Hospice through the greatest period of change in its history is to retire when it returns home to Trinity.

Chief executive Margaret Dunbar, one of the driving forces behind the hospice, arrived as a nursing director in 1998 and has seen many changes to the specialist care there.

As patients are now living longer, she said they experience far more problems and their needs can be more complex.

Margaret began her nurses’ training in Glasgow, in the acute sector when there was not as much palliative care as there is today.

She then trained as a midwife before deciding she wanted to work in a hospice, caring for the dying.

Margaret worked as a ward manager in a Glasgow hospice before joining the team at St Columba’s, becoming chief executive in 2010.

When she retires later this year, Margaret plans to enjoy a holiday with her husband.

She might become involved in volunteer work and take up some vocations studies outside of nursing.

Margaret said: “I’m both sad and excited about my decision to retire at the end of September.

“I have been considering retirement for some time but it was important for me to stay until we moved back to our new building and I could see that everything was running smoothly.

“Now that we have almost reached that point, I feel the time is right to hand over to someone with ‘fresh eyes’.

“I’ve always said that it’s the people that make St Columba’s Hospice what it is and it’s been an honour and a privilege to work with such an inspiring organisation over the last 15 years.

“The new building is stunning, and I am sure that St Columba’s Hospice has a very exciting future ahead. I’m very proud to have played a part in it.”

Ian Adam, chairman of the board of governors at St Columba’s, added: “Mrs Dunbar has successfully led the organisation through the greatest period of change in its history, and we are extremely grateful to her for the level of professionalism and commitment.”

The hospice was established by Ann Weatherall, matron of Corstorphine and Beech Mount Hospital, who was inspired by the care given to the dying during a visit to St Christopher’s in London.

With help from Dr Derek Doyle, St Columba’s first medical director, a committee was founded to raise funds to found Edinburgh’s and Scotland’s first modern hospice.

After many years of fundraising, St Columba’s Hospice opened in 1977 as a 15-bed unit in Trinity overlooking the Firth of Forth.

Ahead of a major reconstruction programme, it was forced to move to a temporary home in Gogarbank, but it set to return to Boswall Road in May.