Founder and president of St Nicholas Hospice Care dies

The Rev Canon Richard Norburn in St Nicholas Hospice Care's shop, in St John's Street, Bury St Edmunds in 2014
The Rev Canon Richard Norburn in St Nicholas Hospice Care's shop, in St John's Street, Bury St Edmunds in 2014
  • The Rev Canon Richard Norburn was involved with hospice since its inception
  • Spent more than 50 years in the Anglican Ministry in Suffolk
  • Involved in the re-founding of Bury St Edmunds YMCA

The founder and president of St Nicholas Hospice Care in Bury St Edmunds has died.

The Rev Canon Richard Norburn, who spent more than 50 years in the Anglican Ministry in Suffolk, passed away yesterday (Novemeber 15) afternoon.

Richard was a great man with an enormous heart, who worked tirelessly for the hospice, he was our greatest champion and worked with a passion and enthusiasm that was infectious.

Barbara Gale

Barbara Gale, chief executive of the hospice, said: “Without Richard there would be no St Nicholas Hospice Care.

“Many tens of thousands of dying people and their families have benefited from his vision and inspirational leadership over the last 33 years.

“Richard was a great man with an enormous heart, who worked tirelessly for the hospice, he was our greatest champion and worked with a passion and enthusiasm that was infectious.”

Canon Norburn, of Bury St Edmunds, was inspired to set up the hospice after witnessing, as rector of Ingham with Ampton and Great & Little Livermere, the suffering of three families at a similar time – a father who was in and out of hospital, an elderly woman whose husband was struggling to care for her and a grandmother with cancer whose daughter felt unable to help.

In an interview with the Bury Free Press during the charity’s 30th anniversary in 2014, he said: “All three were terminally ill and I thought there ought to be something better for these people than the treatment they were getting at the time.”

On May 1, 1984, its first nurse, June Shields née Storey, started going out into the community to support people in need of end-of-life care.

It launched a day centre at Turret Close, in Westgate Street, in July 1986 and opened its current site, in Hardwick Lane, in 1993. The hospice welcomed Diana, Princess of Wales, to its official opening in July of that year.

Canon Norburn was ordained as Curate of St Gregory’s and St Peter’s, in Sudbury, in 1959.

From 1965 to 1974, he was Diocesan Youth Officer, living at Raydon, near Hadleigh, and covered most of the county.

Canon Norburn then became Rector of Ingham with Ampton and Great and Little Livermere until he retired in 1997. Barnham was also added to his patch becoming part of the Blackbourne Team in 1992.

He was also Rural Dean of Thingoe from 1978 to 1988 and was made an Honorary Canon of St. Edmundsbury Cathedral in 1981.

He was awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours in 1997 and was married to his wife Joyce, with whom he shared four children and five grandchildren for more than 50 years.

Canon Norburn served on many Diocesan boards and committees and was involved in the Healing and Deliverance Ministry.

He was involved with Churches Together in Bury St Edmunds and District for more than 35 years, serving as its chairman for a number of years and on its management and unity groups.

Canon Norburn also chaired Time to Listen, the ecumenical counselling group, and the Ecumenical Healing Ministry Group, and was a trustee and patron of Bury St Edmunds Ecumenical Centre Trust and trustee of Bury St Edmunds and District Christian Youth.

He was involved with the re-founding of Bury St Edmunds YMCA and was a trustee for more than 25 years. He was made a vice-president and was awarded the Order of the Red Triangle for long service.

For about 25 years, Richard was a school governor and involved with planning governor training both in the western area and across the county.