Tributes to former hospice chairman

A FORMER chairman of St Michael’s Hospice who was instrumental in setting up its charity shops and steering it through tough economic times has died at the age of 87.

Roger Plowden was so passionate about the St Leonards-based hospice he continued to attend meetings right up until he became too ill to travel almost two years ago.

Current chairman Julian Avery said: “We have lost a wonderful supporter and I have lost a very wise advisor and friend. He steered us through a very challenging period.”

Roger joined the Army in 1945 and attended Sandhurst military academy.

He rose through the ranks and went on to command the 4th Tank Regiment. He became a Brigadier and spent most of his career serving in the army bases of the former West Germany. In 1980 he left the Army and took up a job in the city as a financial advisor for nine years.

In 1985 he moved with his wife Ruth to a house in Cottage Lane, Westfield after the area was recommended to them by friend living in the village.

A few years later Roger volunteered to join the hospice’s board and went on to become chairman in 1991.

As the country was in the grip of a recession, the hospice faced challenging economic times but Roger’s army drive, determination and compassion quickly made an impact.

He was instrumental in setting up the first hospice charity shops and creating the Arthur Easton function hall.

The decision not to sell off St Augustine’s Nursing Home was also taken under Roger’s expert watch.

After four years he decided to retire but stayed on the board and continuted to attend annual general meetings.

He moved to Bury St Edmonds in Suffolk in 1995 but continued to attend AGMs and meetings right up until December 2011.

He was forced to miss the last AGM last December after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

But he continued to offer his support and advice to Mr Avery.

Sadly he passed away in May and his funeral was held in Bury St Edmunds.

Many former cadets and officers who served with Roger attended.

Paying tribute, Ruth said: “Roger heard about the hole the hospice was in and felt he had some skills and might be able to help.

“He used to work in the City and had a very good accounting mind.

“We loved living in Westfield and Roger liked being involved with the hospice. It was a challenge but that’s what he wanted.

“He was greatly loved by his younger officers. They wrote lovely letters of condolence about how much they enjoyed working under him.

“He was very understanding and wsa just a wonderful man who is sorely missed by everyone.”

Mr Avery added: “Roger was chairman when the challenge was particulary strong and he lead the hospice extremely well.

“He set up our trading activities which are a very valuable source of revenue. He set up the first two and now there are 10 in operation.

“Even after he left he was always enquiring about our financial position. He was very wise and supportive. He was really sharp and would always go through our accounts with a fine toothcomb. “He would think nothing of travelling from Suffolk to attend meetings. A fantastic supporter who will be sorely missed.”