A husband-and-wife team who have helped raise tens of thousands of pounds for the Pear Tree Fund are retiring after together clocking up nearly 45 years’ service with the charity.
Ted and Jane Edwards will step down as trustees of the much-loved Halesworth-based charity at the end of September.
Jane set up the charity in 1989 alongside fellow district nurses Nikki Sawkins and Barbara Kell after recognising that the families of patients who wished to die at home needed extra support. Originally called the Halesworth Community Nursing Care Fund, it provided additional care in the last days of life so that people could die in the place of their choice.
The charity expanded in 2020 when it opened the Pear Tree Centre, on land next to Cutlers Hill Surgery, which offers information, support and advice to patients with a life-changing diagnosis, as well as their families. The development was made possible thanks to a successful £900,000 fundraising drive, with the centre now welcoming around 550 people each month.
“I am proud to have been involved with planning and building the Pear Tree Centre,” said Jane. “We have created a really lovely space which encourages people to relax. It really does provide a very special, calm and welcoming atmosphere.
“I have also loved working with the most wonderful set of trustees and staff. I know that the Pear Tree Fund is in safe hands and will continue to thrive. I also hope it will continue to change attitudes and encourage people to come and share their concerns early in their illness so that they and their families can get the right support and have a better experience.”
Jane’s husband Ted joined the trustees in 2012 after retiring from his job as an accountant. After developing a business case for the Pear Tree Centre, he became the project chair and helped to overcome several challenges to steer the construction work to completion.
“Looking back, I feel great pride that I have been a part of developing such an attractive and much-praised building,” said Ted. “I’m also proud that Halesworth and the surrounding area now has a facility which is proving itself to be such a boon for local people.
“The Pear Tree Fund has gone through some difficult times since we opened the doors – not least the COVID-19 pandemic – but the centre is now providing a haven which is a godsend to so many people. I am confident that it will continue to extend its help to a wider area in the future.
“It makes me very proud to have been involved in achieving so much and building so many friendships along the way. The trustees all deserve a big pat on the back for a job well done.”
Despite retiring, the duo remain passionate supporters of the charity, and are urging the community to continue raising money to help meet its £280,000 annual running costs.
“The work the charity does is incredibly important,” added Jane. “Living with long term illness can be very lonely, financially draining and hard on family and carers. The centre is there to inform and support, as well as providing a much-needed venue to meet others, share experiences or just have fun.
“Dying in your own bed at home with the family around you is the preference of most people. That is why the extra practical support and care the Pear Tree Fund provides is so important – it can help make a sad experience emotionally fulfilling and less exhausting.”