The death of Audrey Appleton from cancer in 1981 provided the catalyst which led to the creation of Farleigh Hospice. Her friends, Glenda Lance and Dr. Gill Collier, launched an appeal to establish hospice services in and around Chelmsford. A steering committee was formed and the charity was registered in 1982.
Originally named the Chelmsford Hospice Service, the charity first established a sitting service in 1982, using volunteers to provide support and care for people living with cancer and other life limiting illnesses. This was followed by the appointment of the first two Specialist Care Nurses (employed by the Health Authority).
In March 1984 Farleigh House, 212 New London Road, was purchased and over the next three years the building was redesigned to accommodate Inpatient and Day services. The building work was completed in July 1988 and in the following month the Day Hospice was opened. In September the Inpatient Unit was opened, initially with 6 beds and expanding to ten over the following year. In 1991 the hospice the hospice employed its first Specialist Palliative care Nurse.
As the service expanded it became clear that there was a need for satellite centres to serve the geographically wide community. Some patients had to travel long distances to take advantage of our services. Two Day Hospice Centres were therefore opened to better serve the local communities in outlying areas.
The first Day Hospice Centre was at St Michael's Hospital in Braintree and saw its first patients in May 1991. This service subsequently moved to the Day Hospital Unit in Christmas 2001 as the main building closed.
Originally known as St Clare's Day Hospice, a second Day Hospice Centre was opened in July 1995 in Maldon after a number of years fundraising. The building was the social club for the old Bentalls factory workers. In 2000 thanks to the fundraising of The Essex Golf and Country Club in Earls Colne a garden room was added to the hospice building.
Despite sharing the same charity registration number and being effectively part of the Farleigh Hospice service, St Clare's Day Hospice had its own Board of Trustees and fundraising operation. In 2001 St Clare's Day Hospice was officially merged into Farleigh Hospice and in January 2006 the name St Clare's was officially changed to Farleigh Day Hospice.
In order to meet the continued need for expansion and growth of hospice services it became clear that the Chelmsford site would not be able to sustain future requirements. Although much loved by patients, volunteers and staff the fact that the in patient unit was situated upstairs was always impractical. By 1997 the decision was taken to look for a new site and an appeal to raise £6m to build a new purpose built hospice was launched.