David Hollingsworth was another pivotal figure in making the vision of a Hospice to serve Watford and the surrounding area a reality.
Born in Essex, he came to Watford in 1957 as a recently-qualified Chartered Building Surveyor. He worked for a firm that, in a later guise as Rumble Sedgwick, was to manage the conversion of the first floor of the Peace Hospice to its present components of therapy, counselling and meeting rooms.
David was about to retire when a fellow member of both the Round Table and the Rotary Club, Dr Robin Gain, asked him to help in negotiating a lease for the old Peace Memorial building which was to become the Hospice’s home. With that hurdle cleared, his brief was to oversee the work involved in transforming a building derelict for 10 years into one that would offer comfort and reassurance to people with terminal illnesses.
Ever mindful of the need to restrain any grandiose ambitions in spending publicly-donated funds, he expressed his “horror” at an architect’s plan to alter the facade of the building and to spend a huge sum on landscaping the gardens. It was his idea to build a second storey for the Inpatients’ Unit at the outset because it would be more economical than adding it later once enough funds had been raised to furnish it. Originally known as the ‘shell’ this area has since been developed into rooms for the Starlight Centre.
Almost inevitably, there were problems and irritations along the way – someone had forgotten to order the bricks and the roofing tiles, there were delays with the plumbing and the baths required for a variety of needs proved expensive. An unlikely saving proved possible when it was discovered that by providing several more toilets, the Hospice could avoid paying VAT.
David was at pains to pay tribute to the work of Dr Patrick Russell, a Croxley Green GP who was a founding Trustee and helper from the first fundraising to the eventual admission of inpatients. David Hollingsworth was invited to cut the tape with Princess Michael of Kent at the official opening of the Peace Hospice, but he felt that honour should go to Dr Russell. He got his way.
David Hollingsworth retired from the Peace Hospice Trust when he was 70, his invaluable contribution completed.