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The Cicely Saunders Society

Promoting the appreciation and understanding of the life and work of Dame Cicely Saunders

Gallery credits: photos 1, 2 and 4: Derek Bayes, photo 5: Mary McCartney Donald

Dame Cicely Saunders, the acknowledged founder of the modern approach to hospice and palliative care, was a nurse, social worker and physician. She initially trained in the social sciences, and throughout her adult life was influenced by a deep commitment to the Christian faith. She died in 2005 and in 2018 a new biography[1] was published to mark the centenary of her birth. 

Global interest in the centenary and in the biography has confirmed the continuing value of understanding the life, work and legacy of Cicely Saunders.

Upcoming events

Event: Hospice UK National Conference (20-22 November 2019)
Date: Wednesday 20 November 2019
Time: 12.45-1.30pm
Talk: Introducing … The Cicely Saunders Society

In this session, Professor David Clark (University of Glasgow) will outline the aims and scope of the newly established Cicely Saunders Society, which has been formed to promote appreciation and understanding of the life and work of the founder of the modern hospice movement. Reflecting the overall theme of the conference, David will then go on to examine both the ‘revolutionary’ and the ‘evolutionary’ aspects of Dame Cicely’s approach, and to assess some of the ways in which her legacy speaks to our current situation. 

To find out more

Twitter: @CicelySociety

Aim of The Cicely Saunders Society

To promote appreciation and understanding of the life and work of Dame Cicely Saunders.


  • To organise intellectual and sociable activities and events for members, including visits to sites and places of interest, symposia, seminars and lectures
  • To promote activities to further identify and safeguard archival material relating to the life and work of Cicely Saunders, including the digitisation of relevant papers, and the cataloguing of publications and writings, as well as photographic, film and sound recordings
  • To consider how learning from the life and work of Cicely Saunders could apply to contemporary issues and thinking related to hospice and palliative care
  • To carry out any other relevant activities in pursuit of the aim of the society.

Next steps

Dame Cicely Saunders

A group of people with personal, professional or organisational interest in Cicely’s life came together in June 2019 and agreed to work together to create a Cicely Saunders Society, which will be dedicated to fostering wider understanding and appreciation of all that she did. 

The group currently comprises:

  • Geoff Browell, Head of Archives and Research Collections, King’s College London
  • Rosemary Burch, Breast Care Clinical Nurse Specialist and Group Psychotherapist (retired), also God-daughter of Dr Saunders
  • Professor David Clark, University of Glasgow (Chair)
  • Andrew Goodhead, Senior Manager and Hospice Archivist, St Christopher’s
  • Melanie Hodson, Information Specialist, Hospice UK
  • Chris Olver, Archivist, Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability 
  • Heather Richardson, Joint CEO St Christopher’s Hospice
  • Joe Wood, PhD researcher, University of Glasgow
  • Professor Carlos Centeno, ATLANTES Research Programme, University of Navarra, Spain
  • Dr Lisbeth Thoresen, Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences, University of Oslo, Norway
  • Dr Augusto Caraceni, Department of Palliative Care, Pain Therapy and Rehabilitation, Instituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milan, Italy
  • Professor Philip Larkin, Lausanne University Hospital and l’Institut Universitaire de Formation et de Recherche en Soins (IUFRS), Switzerland
  • Sian Best, Cicely Saunders International, Cicely Saunders Institute, London UK

This group will spend the next year working up a programme of events, connecting with people who are interested to be part of the society, finding out more about what others are doing to appreciate and celebrate Cicely’s life and work and considering the long term shape and funding for the Society.

Anyone who shares the aim of the society is welcome to get involved.

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To help

If you are involved in examining or celebrating the life of Dame Cicely Saunders, then we would love to know more. Please get in touch by emailing

[1] Clark, D (2018) Cicely Saunders:  A life and legacy. New York: Oxford University Press, pp 336.