Remembering Janet Kay
Janet Kay, the first ever Matron at St Leonard’s Hospice, died suddenly at the end of July in York Hospital. 
Posted Aug 18

Remembering Janet Kay

Janet trained as a nurse in York in 1965 and following her marriage to Clifford in 1969 she spent 3 years working at Rheindahlen army medical centre.  When they returned to York, Janet trained as a health visitor and then subsequently became an occupational health nurse working at Terry’s chocolate factory.  Janet was appointed as Matron for St Leonard’s Hospice in September 1984 in preparation for the In-patient Unit officially opening in the following February.
Janet, who had been the first Macmillan Nurse in the area, initially spent time visiting and working with other hospices around the country to learn how hospice care was provided to patients and their families.  Among Janet’s many tasks was the appointment of other nursing staff – creating application forms, sifting applications, writing letters. For the first year she had no secretary, and would spend hours writing letters and reports, while at the same time dealing with the immensely-detailed task of setting up the new Hospice – everything from lavatory brushes to beds.
During the next few years Janet worked tirelessly to ensure patients and their families received outstanding care throughout the Hospice.  Furthermore by 1989 there was a structured learning programme that was used both by Hospice staff and by student nurses from the York School of Nursing at the District Hospital.
In the late eighties, this dedication to patient care throughout her career was recognised when Janet was presented with The Macmillan Gold Medal of the National Society for Cancer Relief (NSCR; now Macmillan Cancer Support).  This is awarded to nurses who have made a significant contribution to Macmillan Nursing Services.
In 1991 Janet became General Manager of the Hospice and remained in post until 1998 when she stepped down from her role and returned to what she had initially been trained to do – nursing. Trevor Copley, St Leonard’s Chairman at the time wrote of her: There are countless people who have a story to tell of Janet’s personal concern and sensitivity for patients and her instinctive understanding of the feelings of their families. Her daily, living commitment to the principles of the Hospice Movement has long been a yardstick and an inspiration for us all.
Following her retirement Janet became a stalwart supporter of the RSPCA (York) and spent many years fundraising on their behalf. Janet baked cakes and crumbles for all the charity’s fairs and will be remembered fondly as the Cake Queen, as all her cakes were baked to perfection.
Emma Johnson, St Leonard’s Hospice Chief Executive said: “We were saddened to hear the news of Janet’s death and our thoughts are with Janet’s husband, Clifford, her sister Kathleen, her brother Alan and their family and friends.  Janet laid the foundations of care that are carried out today and our patients, staff and trustees will be forever grateful for the dedication she gave to St Leonard’s.