Stuart Nagler was Chairman of the Peace Hospice from July 2005 to September 2011. During his time in charge, the Inpatient Unit was enlarged, the Starlight Centre was added and several new shops were opened. The Hospice was put on a firmer financial footing and its profile was raised through the appointment of famous patrons, including Martin Kemp and Graham Taylor. Stuart also developed a closer relationship with neighbouring Hospices, particularly the Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted, and sought ways of pooling resources and collaborating more closely.
Stuart’s first formal contact with the Peace Hospice came when he responded to an advertisement in the Watford Observer for Trustees – “financial skills desirable”. As a Chartered Accountant based in Radlett he fitted the bill, and was appointed to the Trust Board in November 2004. Stuart could also offer a long record of public service. He had been Mayor of Hertsmere, Council Leader, Chairman of the Police Authority and a magistrate for over 20 years. He continues to be a Deputy Lieutenant of Hertfordshire.
With his accountancy background, it was natural that Stuart should focus primarily on financial issues. He encouraged the opening of new shops, boosted legacy income, and presided over the early days of the Starlight Walk, which was to prove a reliable fundraiser over the years. He also approached prominent local business people and set up the Corporate Support Group, which continues to help with fundraising. Although he describes himself as “an amateur” on the care side, he understood the importance of running the Inpatient Unit to maximum capacity, and improved links with GPs and MacMillan Nurses over the referral of patients. He also promoted Hospice at Home and the Hospice’s bereavement services.
Stuart also encouraged the Hospice to engage more widely with the local community and become more inclusive. He invited leaders of ethnic minority groups to become involved with the Hospice, forged links with other community groups and recruited high profile personalities to become ambassadors. As well as Martin Kemp and Graham Taylor, the Mayor of Watford, Mrs Dorothy Thornhill, local MPs Richard Harrington and David Gauke and the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, Lady Verulam, all became Hospice patrons.
Stuart stood down as Chairman in September 2011, and retired from his accountancy practice a year later. He continues to work for the Hospice by approaching local business leaders and potential major donors and encouraging them to come on board. He is proud of his contribution to the Hospice, and of its place in the community:
“This place has always had the most fabulous reputation. People in the Watford area consider it to be Our Hospice – they think of it as their own. We are still a centre of excellence – respected and admired by everybody”.