[Contributed by Sir Kenneth Calman Chief Medical Officer]

Cicely Saunders, renowned as the founder of the modern hospice movement, died on 14. July 2005. Her remarkable career spanned three professions- - nursing, social work and medicine. When she opened St Christopher's Hospice in Sydenham, South London there was only a handful of small hospices but today, worldwide, there are more than 8,000 palliative care services (the accepted name for hospice care today) in more than 100 countries. One who met Cicely Saunders in the early days and continued to watch with interest and admiration her work and influence on palliative care was Sir Kenneth Calman, KB, FRCP Edin, at one time Chief Medical of Scotland, then of England and now Vice-Chancellor of the University of Durham. He writes:

"I first met Cicely Saunders in 1972 when I was an MRC Clinical Research Fellow at the Chester Beatty and the Royal Marsden Hospital. I visited St Christopher’s both then and when I returned to Glasgow to take the Chair of Oncology in 1974. Our interests were similar and for around 5 years I was secretary to the St Christopher’s "Think Tank". It was remarkable. It met 3-4 times a year and its purpose was to discuss, debate and think through the many problems faced by the terminally ill-the phrase still used at that time. It was a fascinating insight into the work of a pioneer. She, and the very distinguished group around her, supplemented by equally distinguished visitors, was prepared to question and to seek new answers, even in this most private and personal of clinical areas. There was a sense of curiosity and of trying new ways of thinking and doing. As someone just finished a scientific fellowship it changed my way of thinking as it challenged the very nature of clinical medicine in defining the meaning and quality of life. I have never forgotten these early years of my career in association with Cicely and the insights she gave me into the purpose and practice of medicine. We of course met many times thereafter and it was always a pleasure to see how she kept abreast of new ways of thinking while keeping the patient and their views always the focus of the discussion."