Christmas will signal the end of an era at St Michael’s Hospice near Hereford as the charity’s long-serving Medical Director retires.
Dr Tony Blower joined the Bartestree-based Hospice in January 2000 and has gone on to become a hugely popular figure among patients, their loved ones, and his colleagues.
The Hospice’s Chief Executive, Mike Keel, said Tony should be “very proud” of the legacy he leaves behind.
“He has inspired and encouraged countless doctors and nurses over the years to pursue their passion for palliative care,” said Mr Keel.
“Tony has also played a major part in training 20 doctors to become consultants in palliative medicine. The medical team he oversees has provided four-month training placements at the Hospice to 55 junior doctors, many of whom are now GPs or hospital specialists. Some have gone onto a career in palliative medicine.
“Tony is known for his calm, quiet, thoughtful and kind approach to his work and colleagues, who hold him in high-regard. We will all miss him.”
Among the many milestones achieved, Tony points to the increased range of services at St Michael’s – helping families at different points in their journey – and the Hospice’s redevelopment, which has enabled the scope of services to widen.
“It’s been a challenging but rewarding role, and I wouldn’t have changed the last 22 years for anything,” he said.
“I will miss each and every one of the people who make St Michael’s Hospice the very special and important place it is.”
Tony says he has learned a great deal from those he has cared for over the years.
“I’ve learnt a lot about life, living, what matters, and what doesn’t in life. Also, the importance of adjustment and our range of approaches to coping with adversity. This understanding has helped me greatly in my own life.”
Tony adds that he has also learned a great deal from his colleagues and feels he, along with others, has contributed to a “strong culture of learning” within the Hospice in which everyone plays a part.
Nick Nenadich, a St Michael’s Hospice patient and fundraiser, says the outgoing Medical Director “inspires confidence”.
“He is without doubt one of the kindest, most empathetic people I have ever met,” he said.
“Being diagnosed with terminal cancer can be a lonely place and the fear of what you are inevitably facing can be very daunting and disabling.
“However, Tony has been there in his quiet and attentive manner making things feel so much easier.”
Tony passionately believes that St Michael’s aim is to help people live as well as possible despite and alongside their illness.
“It is through the collective effort of everyone, whether employed by the Hospice in any role, working as a Volunteer, or as a member of the community supporting St Michael’s,
that we achieve this,” added Tony.
“I know it’s time now for me to explore other aspects of my life in retirement.
“I’m just thankful to have had the opportunity to be part of such a great organisation for so long.”
If you or a loved one is living with a terminal illness, the Hospice’s free advice and support line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Just call 01432 852 080.