Dying matters at QMU – film screening sheds light on the UK’s first modern hospice

By Press Office

On Thursday, May 4th, QMU will be hosting a special screening of the filmed stage play ‘Cicely and David’ as part of our involvement with Dying Matters Awareness Week. Following the screening, a Q & A facilitated by play producer Dr Jo Hockley, OBE, will give students and staff the opportunity to learn more about this fascinating production and the history of the UK’s first modern hospice. 

Dying Matters is Hospice UK’s flagship national campaign to get people talking about death and grief and this year, it’s focusing on ‘Dying Matters at Work’. Fifty-seven percent of employees have experienced a bereavement in the past six months and yet, according to Hospice UK, fewer than one in five managers feels confident supporting an employee through the grieving process. QMU hopes that this screening and Q&A will get students and staff speaking more openly about their experiences with grief to create a more supportive, understanding environment. 

‘Cicely and David’ is the story of a Polish migrant, David Tasma, who is dying of cancer in post-war London, estranged from his home and family. A brief, intense relationship with his social worker, Cicely Saunders, helps him find some resolution to what he feels has been a worthless life. In the process, the idea begins for what will become the world’s first modern hospice. Founded by Cicely Saunders in 1967, St Christopher’s Hospice would quickly become a beacon for end-of-life care improvement across the world.  

The original play was written by David Clark, from the University of Glasgow, and debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2022. 

Dr Erna Haraldsdottir, Director of the Centre for Person-centred Practice Research, said: “We are absolutely delighted to showcase the extraordinary story of how Cicely Saunders established the world’s first Modern hospice, particularly during Dying Matters Awareness Week. While a difficulty topic, it is crucial that people can talk openly about dying and grief. So many are forced to struggle in isolation with an issue that will affect us all. Minimising the stress and stigma associated with grief is a crucial step towards making QMU an institution that supports everyone who works and studies here. 

“This is a deeply moving story which resonates strongly with our institution and our expertise in nursing.  

“We are also very excited to have the producer of this production, Dr Jo Hockley, here to answer questions from attendees.” 

The event will take place on Thursday 4th May in the Halle Lecture Theatre. To reserve a place, please email: ABacigalupo@qmu.ac.uk no later than April 28th. 

Notes to Editor

For further media information please contact John Gillespie, Media Relations and Content Officer at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh on E: jgillespie@qmu.ac.uk and copy in pressoffice@qmu.ac.uk