25 October 2023

St Michael’s Hospice in Hereford has become the first Hospice in the UK to be awarded a Breathworks Centre of Excellence for Mindfulness. 

Over the years, mindfulness has benefitted patients, their loved ones, staff and volunteers at St Michael’s, which provides palliative and end-of-life care to those in Herefordshire and its borders. 

Breathworks Founders Vidyamala Burch, Sona Fricker and Hospice Registered Nurse and mindfulness advocate Gail Calthrop

St Michael’s journey with mindfulness began in 2009 when a Mindfulness for Stress course was held, and attended by Hospice Registered Nurse Gail Calthrop who has spearheaded mindfulness at the hospice. She then went on to lead more courses for health and stress, as well as a monthly mindfulness drop-in session. The offering developed to include taster sessions to support various groups, including staff and those attending the day hospice. Since then, it has grown even further, with Gail teaching mindfulness for over three days a week, and leading a wide range of sessions workshops for exploring loss and grief mindfully workshops.

The reach of mindfulness at St Michael's now spreads to bodies such as councils and nursing homes; Gail regularly talks to other hospices about their work, sharing the benefits of mindfulness within the palliative services.

Video of Gail Calthrop receiving her award form Breathworks Founder Vidyamala Burch 

Gail said: “It is wonderful to be recognised as an industry leader, and to have developed our mindfulness services to the point where it is benefitting so many people.

Making mindfulness accessible to everyone is an ethos I share with Breathworks. I feel very proud of the fact that mindfulness is offered to each and every one of our patients at St Michael’s, with drop-ins also free for staff, volunteers and patients’ loved ones. And because we make our longer courses financially viable, it makes it easier to access for a greater breadth of people outside the hospice network, which can only be a good thing.”

The award was presented to Gail by Breathworks Founders Vidyamala Burch OBE and Sona Fricker during a special ceremony at St Michael’s. 

Vidyamala said: “the comprehensive Mindfulness programme at St Michael’s is a great example of why we founded Breathworks, to enable these life-changing programmes to be made widely accessible in the community.”

Find out more about mindfulness at St Michael’s Hospice here.