Hi, I'm Graham, the founder of Hospices of Hope.

I founded the charity in 1991, when it was first known as the Ellenor Romanian Appeal (as it grew out of the Ellenor Hospice in Dartford, which I founded in 1985 as the local hospice charity for North West Kent). Until 2007, I combined my role of running Hospices of Hope with running my own business but became full time CEO in 2008.

I first visited Romania as a tourist in 1975 and made friends with a young couple in the city of Brasov. I returned several times during the communist period and saw for myself the suffering of the Romanian people under the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. I returned to the country a few days after the “revolution” in 1989 and my friend took me to the cancer hospital in Brasov, where I witnessed a young patient dying in terrible pain. This sowed the “seed” in my mind for using my experience to introduce the hospice concept to Romania. Having set up a Romanian partner charity, Hospice Casa Sperantei, we started with a home-care service in 1992 and built and opened the first Romanian inpatient unit in Brasov in 2002. It has been so rewarding to see how the work has grown over the years and expanded to other countries:  Serbia, Moldova, Albania and now Greece.

One of the first patients to be admitted to the Bucharest Hospice was Ciprian, a 27 year old IT engineer. I got to know him well during the few months he received care. He knew he was dying but wanted to talk about lots of things including the things he had never got to do – visit England, have a house and garden and raise a family. When he died, he left me a little leather notebook in which he had written on the first page (together with a photo of himself) “Wherever life takes us, let’s always be friends. I promise!”

Helping people in some of the poorest countries in Europe to receive good holistic care at the end of their lives is an extraordinary privilege. I thank God for such a rewarding journey!