Dr Brian Herd

In 1986, local GP Dr Brian Herd took a period of prolonged study leave. The objectives were to study the new subject of hospice care, and to try to devise a suitable version for West Cumbria. The late Macmillan Nurse, Margaret Dowling, and her nursing colleagues, were also considering what form a hospice for West Cumbria should take. They soon joined forces…

It was clear that the existing pattern of hospice care, centred on a nursing home type of building, would not be suitable for this large area with its widely scattered population. Moreover most patients and their carers longed to receive care in their own homes rather than in unfamiliar surroundings.

The hospice at home model that was devised created a hospice in the patient’s home. It was a pioneering venture. It was the first hospice of any kind in Cumbria. As far as we know, Hospice at Home West Cumbria was the first to provide full hospice care in the home in the UK. Brian Herd was its founding Chairman and Hon Medical Adviser. Since 2016, he has been its President. Following his retirement from General Practice, Brian became a professional actor. He is known in his acting life by his first name, Edmund.

Vice Presidents


Mrs Mary Todd

Mrs Mary Todd

Mary has been part of Hospice at Home West Cumbria since being invited to join us as legal adviser at the very beginning of our story. During her long career as a solicitor, based in Whitehaven, she gave us her professional expertise and support, becoming a Trustee in 1996 when she retired.  In 2012 Mary became a vice president and remains a really committed supporter – we are still  her favourite charity. Here she tells her own story of how Hospice came to mean so much to her. 

“In 1975, my husband John and I experienced personally the need for home nursing care in the community for patients with terminal illnesses wishing to be nursed at home. At that time, John’s Mother was dying from terminal cancer (in her own home) and as we were both working full-time and also had other family commitments, we were finding it difficult. No nursing help was available locally but at the very end, we were able to employ the help of an SEN from a Liverpool agency. We were fortunate to afford such care and were very aware of the many families who could not!

Over the years that followed, I discovered clients and friends trying to cope with the same problems so in early 1987, when I was invited to become legal adviser to the group forming what was to become Hospice At Home, I leapt at the chance.  When I met Brian Herd, Margaret Dowling and the group in 1987 I was intrigued and inspired by their vision. That was just the beginning”

Rob WalkerDr Robert Walker 

Rob was Chair of the Board from 2013. He became Vice President in 2019.

Rob is a retired GP who initially practiced in Workington for 17 years, then became PCT Medical Director for Primary Care in Cumbria, returning to general practice in 2005.

He has extensive management and strategic planning experience and is a former member of a NICE guidelines working group, as well as being an appraiser and examiner. He lives in Workington with his wife Anne.

Honorary Vice President

Richard StoutMr Richard Stout

Richard has been associated with the charity since its inception and is a major community fundraiser. We were delighted when stepping down from his position of Vice Chair, following his long involvement as part of our board,  he accepted the invitation to become Honorary Vice President at our AGM in October 2018. 

Richard was apprenticed and worked in the motor trade in Northern England then owned and ran the filling station and garage at St Bees until his retirement in 2008. Richard lives with his wife in St Bees.

He has made a personal commitment that each day he will speak to one new person about Hospice at Home West Cumbria.