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What the Cicely Saunders Institute means to me

As part of our 10 year celebrations of the Cicely Saunders Institute, we're asking the people that work closely with us to tell us what the Institute means to them.

First up is Kate Kirk, a Trustee of Cicely Saunders International. This is the charity which Dame Cicely Saunders herself established and in partnership with King's College London, established the Cicely Saunders Institute. Kate is also Cicely's niece.

What brought you to work with the Cicely Saunders Institute?

As a trustee of Cicely Saunders International, I don’t technically ‘work’ at the Institute, although every time I visit this wonderful building, I wish I did!

When my father, Christopher Saunders, Dame Cicely’s brother, stepped down from the trustee board, I was honoured to be invited to join and, hopefully, make my own contribution to her legacy.

Tell us something you have learnt through your experiences with the Institute?

I learn something new every time I visit the Institute or attend a lecture or meeting. Palliative medicine is such a complex field and it’s fascinating to see how so many disciplines are involved. The concept of total pain that underpinned Cicely’s work continues to inform and guide the research and practice that goes on today.

Describe a highlight of working at the Institute?

The people! The Institute seems to attract remarkable people at all levels. And now, 10 years after it opened, we’re seeing how the it is contributing to developing the knowledge and capacity needed in a changing environment for palliative care.

Tell us one of your achievements while working at the Institute? 

My role is about asking questions and making connections that will hopefully bear fruit at some point. It’s always hard to predict exactly when that kind of contribution might produce a result – in my other life, something that happened 30 years ago has just turned into a rather exciting possibility!

cicely saunders institute building with number 10 overlay  January 2020