New boss's journey from care home worker to CEO of St Catherine's Hospice

When Southport teenager Lynn Kelly helped out in a local care home little did she know years later she would have one of the top caring jobs in the region. FIONA FINCH reports on her rise to become Chief Executive of St Catherine’s Hospice at Lostock Hall.

Monday, 5th October 2020, 12:45 pm

Lynn Kelly could not have taken over the top role at central Lancashire's St Catherine's Hospice at a more crucial time.

However, as the nation battles the Coronavirus pandemic, Lynn Kelly is already up to speed on coping with its demands.

For the 47 year old from Southport was promoted from within. She has worked at the hospice for nine years and has guided the charity through the changes brought about so far by the pandemic - changes which have impacted both its on- site and outreach in the community work.

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Lynn Kelly, new Chief Executive of St Catherine's Hospice (photo: Neil Cross)

She said: "I’m looking forward to working with colleagues and our amazing communities as we move forward. Our communities have been truly astonishing in their unwavering support for the hospice over the past 35 years and especially in recent months – we simply wouldn’t be here without them and we thank them wholeheartedly. I’m looking forward to embarking on this next chapter together.”

Lynn arrived at St Catherine’s after working in media and training roles. On leaving the University of Bristol with a history degree she became a researcher with the BBC, later working in radio as a broadcast assistant and producer in London.

But after several years in the capital she moved back up north and got a job in the training and skills department of Northwest Vision + Media which was helping pave the way for the BBC to move major parts of its operation to Media City in Salford.

In 2010, against a background of cuts to public funding, she began to look for a new role. She said: “I started looking round and I saw the job as head of education for St Catherine’s.”

Chief Executive Lynn Kelly pictured outside St Catherine's Hospice (Photo: Neil Cross)

Other longstanding interests also propelled her to the post, as she explained: “When I was 16 I used to work in a care home and I absolutely loved it there and I’ve always volunteered for charities.”

These had ranged from Oxfam and the London Wildlife Trust to the National Garden Scheme. Lynn, who also enjoys yoga,zumba and walking, has found time to fundraise for St Catherine’s, taking part in an 80+ mile sponsored walk along Hadrian’s wall with husband Alan.

As the former Director of Knowledge and Technical at the hospice she managed areas of the hospice’s work including education, training, volunteering, IT, facilities and clinical administration.

Lynn has also played a key role in the charity’s research programmes and partnerships with institutions including UCLan and Runshaw College. Looking ahead she said: "St Catherine’s is truly a wonderful place – there’s kindness and creativity in every corner. It goes without saying that there are challenges ahead but also exciting opportunities too.

“We need to work in partnership with others to shape services to meet the inevitable and growing demand for hospice and palliative care. We must learn from research and evidence-based practice so that the best treatments and therapies are available to patients and we must harness our online and technological capabilities to help us help more people."

The Covid-19 pandemic ha sbrought changes which affect St Catherine's work both on site and its outreach in the community work.

Lynn is aware that Covid-19 has also brought a financial challenge to the service. She said: "Clearly we need to make sure that we negotiate the ongoing impact of the pandemic as we move towards winter and the likely after-effects next spring and summer.

"We know already how closure of our charity shops and The Mill café, plus the cancellation of our summer fundraising events have hit our finances this year, but we are expecting an even bigger impact over the next 12 months without the levels of government funding we’ve had so far."

The cafe and some of the charity's 19 shops reopened in July, with most now open. The Hospice is waiting to see if any additional funding will be available going forward to help hospices across the country.

Reflecting on her first few weeks in post she said: “It’s been a whirlwind - the first weeks have been fantastic. There are challenges ahead but there are lots of new and exciting ideas coming out of the challenges. I feel certain that the amazing team we have here will take us from strength to strength."

Lynn added: “We want to keep listening and learning from our community, our supporters and our patients. We need to work in partnership with others to shape services to meet the inevitable and growing demand for hospice and palliative care ... everyone should have quality of life to the end of life.”

She pledged the hospice would always listen to patients and families and learn from them and would strive to ensure St Catherine's "remains right at the heart of the community it is here to serve".

Lynn said: "We want to keep listening and learning from our community, our supporters and our patients ... We are still very much committed to the vision that everyone should have quality of life to the end of life, and in working towards this we must work more closely with and alongside local communities to understand their needs."

Lynn added: “For me it’s about making sure that St Catherine’s remains very much in the hearts and minds of the people we are here to serve."

*Lynn succeeded CEO Stephen Greenhalgh who retired after 15 years.