When I think of people who I want to celebrate the life of, I often think of family members and personal friends who have inspired me and indeed I have bought one flower in celebration of my grandparents. Having become a dad for the first time recently, I truly have a great deal of respect for them knowing they raised 14 children between the two couples; of which all have followed their lead and their values in supporting communities locally to them and all over the world, doing some amazing work over 3 continents. My family are my greatest inspiration as I am sure is the case for many people.
However, when the Forget Me Not campaign was being designed and we were discussing the ethos of it being a celebration of people who have contributed however big or small to the Birmingham community one name kept coming into my mind as another person who I found truly inspiring and had the great privilege of meeting and working alongside for over a year.
Miss Marian Reed MBE
You may have heard of ‘Miss Reed’ or ‘Marian’ in connection with the Hospice and you may have had the privilege of hearing one of her speeches. For over 35 years, Miss Marian Reed MBE was an inspirational leader and ambassador, dedicating her life’s work to the care of the terminally ill and healthcare education.
With a career in Nursing and Nursing Education, Marian’s first involvement with Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice was supporting the appointment of the Hospice’s first ‘Matron’ in 1978. She went on to join the Board of Trustees in 1981 before being elected Chairman of the Board of Trustees in 1996 and finally being given the role of Honorary President in 2004, a post from which she retired in November 2014 at the age of 85!
Throughout Marian’s time with the Hospice she was an innovator, always leading with the determination to improve patient care for anyone living with a terminal illness. She was also proud of this city and was dedicated to improving the general standard of healthcare across Greater Birmingham for the good of the community. When proposals were put forward for major refurbishment of the Hospice in 1996, she ensured that the Hospice assembled a successful Appeal Committee containing several notable figures, including Lord Digby Jones. The Appeal achieved its goal of £1.5 million and many of these key personalities have continued their support of the Hospice since the appeal.
I first met Marian when I joined the Hospice as a community fundraiser and I still remember a humble lady, small in stature but very confident coming up to my desk and saying “I don’t think we have met but I want to talk to you” little did I know that Marian liked to meet all of the fundraisers to make sure we were right for the Hospice, luckily I passed the test!
Over the next year I found that we could always rely on Marian to give speeches on our behalf and working quite closely with my fellow fundraisers we would all delight in going with Marian to supporter events and hearing her speak with great authority, passion and love. Marian gave her last official talk for the Hospice in December 2015 and she carried out in excess of 1,000 speeches on behalf of the charity at supporter events over the last 35 years. The combined value of these fundraisers exceeded over £700,000 and in the last year alone the events she spoke at helped to raise in excess of £25,000.
Throughout her time, people have told me, that Marian showed great courage by challenging the status-quo to ensure that the Hospice remained continually able to meet the changing needs of the community. Under her leadership the Hospice became the first provider in Birmingham of a 24/7 Palliative Community Team. Without Marian’s encouragement, it may have been deemed too expensive a service but District Nurses now see this as a vital part of the Birmingham healthcare model. In her later years, as Honorary Hospice President, Marian encouraged the successful launch of our Hospice at Home team in 2013, yet again showing her passion for innovation.
Marian clearly was a highly effective Chairman and President, and passionate about providing great care and services in Birmingham and beyond. Her life was a paradigm of selfless dedication to nursing and the education of those providing clinical care. I have heard Lord Digby Jones once stated “Her attitude and vision is an inspiration to everyone whose life she has touched or influenced in some way. Families going through acute stress; patients facing the frightening unknown with renewed strength and calm; staff knowing there is always a leader upon whom they can totally rely”.
To me Marian will always be that humble lady who without any need for recognition worked tirelessly to ensure that healthcare in Birmingham and for Brummies was striving to be better. She will always be that lady who took the time to come and meet a fresh faced fundraising manager, sit down with them and share many cups of tea with them all to ensure that we were up to the job of supporting her vision for a well-supported and well-equipped hospice ready to serve its community.
Most of all what I will celebrate about Marian is her passion and enthusiasm that allowed her to deliver unbelievable speeches about our city, our community and our Hospice.
My second flower is to you Marian, your wise words and passion inspired me to develop into the fundraiser and community minded person I am today.
Thank you Hamish for sharing your tribute to Marian Reed with us.
If you’ve been inspired by Hamish and would like to share your story, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.