Photograph showing (L – R) former nurses Jane Edwards, Barbara Kell and Nikki Sawkins, who were instrumental in setting up the charity, breaking the ground for the new building is attached. Please credit Sarah Patchett.

Building work on an £880,000 resource centre which will bring vital information and support closer to home for people with life-limiting illnesses has begun.

The Pear Tree Fund, formerly known as Halesworth Community Nursing Care Fund, has started construction of the Pear Tree Centre on land next to Cutlers Hill Surgery in Halesworth. 

The three nurses who were instrumental in setting up the charity 30 years ago – Jane Edwards, Nikki Sawkins and Barbara Kell – broke the ground for the building on Friday. Great Yarmouth-based Elm Contracts (Contracting) Ltd, which is carrying out the work, will initially strip the site before creating hard standings and access for the construction teams and necessary equipment.  

The work has been paid for by fundraising events organised by the charity and donations from the local community. The Pear Tree Fund is now raising money towards the centre’s projected annual running costs of around £140,000 a year.

Ted Edwards, co-chair of the Pear Tree Centre project, said: “We are absolutely delighted that work on this fantastic community resource has now begun, and look forward to watching the building rise from its foundations over the coming months. 

“Once operational later this year, the centre will provide a huge variety of resources for people with cancer and other life-limiting illness from across north east Suffolk and south Norfolk, as well as their families and carers. Providing this kind of support closer to home will be vital, as it will mean people no longer have to travel to Ipswich, Norwich or Great Yarmouth when they are already unwell.

“We will never lose sight of the fact that we wouldn’t be where we are today without the fantastic support we have received from both our local community and national charitable trusts. Our sincere thanks go to everyone who has supported the project so far and has made our dream of creating this centre into a reality.”

The Pear Tree Centre will offer family services and advice on finance and benefits, as well as help understanding a diagnosis and coping with bereavement. It will include space for local support groups to meet, a counselling room, small library and a comfortable area where people can relax and chat informally. A therapy room where patients can receive complementary treatments, such as Reiki and massage, will also be available, along with a landscaped garden to help promote wellbeing.

Over the first few months of the construction work, people using Cutlers Hill Surgery and the Patrick Stead building may notice extra traffic using the site, as lorries will be making deliveries and taking away excavated material. Although every effort will be made to keep disruption to an absolute minimum, the Pear Tree Fund trustees would like to apologise in advance for any difficulties this may cause.

To find out more about the centre and how you could support the charity, visit


the Pear Tree Fund

The Pear Tree Fund, formerly known as Halesworth Community Nursing Care Fund, was set up 30 years ago to support people with life-limiting illnesses who wish to die in the comfort and security of their own homes. 

It works alongside the NHS and social services to provide extra equipment and 24 hour care in the last days of life along with emotional, physical and practical support at the time when people need it the most.

For more information, please visit, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, both @ThePearTreeFund