40 Years of The Brigitte Trust - The Brigitte Trust
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40 years of The Brigitte Trust

This year we’re celebrating our 40th birthday! Take a look back through our history to find out about some of the key milestones on our journey and help us to raise vital funds with our ’40 for 40’ campaign.

Our history.

  • 1984

    After several years of planning and long discussion, The Brigitte Trust, originally called Hospice Home Care, was created. Our first office was in the attic space of local cinema Dorking Halls!

  • 1985

    Our first ever training course for volunteers was held at Juniper Hall, Mickleham in 1985.

  • 1986

    Our first trained volunteers than began visiting clients at home in 1986, and we have been offering our home visiting service ever since!

  • 1992

    Our founder, Brigitte Watkin, retired from the charity.

  • 1994

    We launched new branded literature and a new website as the charity was renamed as The Brigitte Trust, reflecting the name of the charity’s founder. This change was due to confusion over the type of service offered; non-medical, but practical and emotional support complementing the work of the medical teams.


  • 1995

    In the spring of 1995, our office move to 316 High Street, Dorking. 

    Fundraising events were held at the Friends Provident Sports & Social Club, including the first of 13 annual Therapy Awareness days. 

  • 1997

    Roger Gaunt, Director of Training, passed away after a period of declining health. Roger and his wife Elisabeth were closely involved with Brigitte in the formation of the charity, using their annex at Apple Hill as the training hub in the early years. 

  • 2002

    Our founder Brigitte passed away in a nursing home in Dorking. Our volunteers visited and supported her while she was there.

    Our first Patrons joined us- Nicholas Owen and Adrian White, who then introduced Corinna Hamilton. 

    The profile and service offered by the charity continued to grow throughout east and central Surrey.

  • 2005

    Some of our volunteers took part in a llama trekking fundraiser- a very interesting way to raise some money!

  • 2009

    We received a fantastic grant of £2735 from Comic Relief, to cover one of our training courses. Comic Relief wanted to make a short film about our work to show on national TV during Sports Relief in the following Spring.

  • 2010

    We won the Mentor’s Choice award for our podcast episode, after a training scheme run by Eagle Radio. Vanessa, our former promotions manager, interviewed clients and volunteers for feedback on the charity and our work.

  • 2011

    Two of our volunteers, Susie and Tim, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for us. They started at 2000m and climbed up to 5895m- higher than anything found in Europe! The trip took them 8 days in total and they raised £1000. An amazing achievement for them both!

  • 2014

    We withdrew from West Sussex and instead expanded our services and recruitment to West and Northeast Surrey. The Trust now covered each Surrey Borough.

  • 2015

    We were awarded the Queens Award for Voluntary Service!

    In June, we had a Royal visit from the Princess Alexandra, who met and spoke to many of our volunteers, trustees, and staff. The award was officially presented in November and many members of the Trust gathered at Denbies Wine Estate for the ceremony.

    Deirdre Lay and Wendy Lane were presented with 30 Year Service Awards for volunteering.

  • 2018

    One of our volunteers, Jan Dallison, walked the Camino de Santiago (almost 500 miles) to raise money for us. £1772 was raised in total!

    “My plan was to walk with my friend 12 /14 miles each day. With rest days, we aimed to reach the end of the Camino on September 17th,” she said.

    After encounters with fog, lightning, blisters, and cows on the road, Jan walked into Santiago de Compostela on September 16th.

  • 2019

    2019 was a busy year for us! We started working with PAT dogs (Pets As Therapy), our Neurological Support Groups started in October, and the ‘End of Life’ Service at East Surrey Hospital started.

  • 2020

    We all went into lockdown due to COVID 19. This meant our volunteers had to work from home, supporting clients over the phone and online.

    Some of our staff and volunteers took part in the 2.6 challenge- volunteer Lynda completed 26 Pilate rollovers in her living room, Charity Manager Lucy challenged herself to do 26 consecutive splits in her garden, and Promotions Manager Vanessa shared 2.6 minutes of “interesting moves” from her garden.

  • 2021

    A rebrand took place this year, including a new logo and website!

    We started holding Bereavement Support groups in August, as well as our first round of Death Cafés.

  • 2022

    We started our Surrey Coffin Club this year, during which people had an opportunity to hear from funeral directors, end-of-life doulas and everything in between. We now run these every Autumn.

    We also held our first ever ‘End-of-Life Matters’ Marketplace. Both this and the Coffin Club were a real success!

  • 2023

    Our office moved from Dorking High Street to Abinger House.

    A few of our staff and volunteers took part in the 5K inflatable race, raising an amazing £2030!

  • 2024

    This year marks our 40th anniversary!

    We have some fantastic new services coming your way this year, and are hosting a number of events such as our webinar with Dr Kathryn Mannix, which you can read more about below!

    Finally, we’d like to say a HUGE thank you to all of our clients, volunteers, supporters, and anyone else who has helped us throughout the years- we are grateful for each and every one of you!

Get involved!

40 for 40!

To help us celebrate turning 40, we want YOU to take on our new “40 for 40” challenge!
Can you bake 40 layers of cake, run 40 laps, or hold a plank for 40 seconds? What about giving up chocolate for 40 days?

If you’d like to get involved in fundraising for us, please click the button below for more details.

SALES ENDED; Join us for “Tender Conversations” with Dr Kathryn Mannix

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this fantastic evening! The turn-out was brilliant, and we managed to raise just over £150 in total.

We’d like to thank Dr Kathryn Mannix for taking time out of her day to host this event for us.

CANCELLED; Celebrate with us at our Garden Party!

Unfortunately, we have had to cancel our much-anticipated 40th Anniversary Garden Party, scheduled for July 21st, 2024.

We’d like to thank you for your support, and apologise for any inconvenience caused. We hope you can join us at one of our future events.

40 years of The Brigitte Trust

We’re asking anyone to contribute their own 40 to us, that could be 40 pounds, 40km running or walking, or even 40 steps a day for 40 days! The challenge is yours to set and we’d love to see you involved!