A HOSPICE’S director of care has finally stepped down after postponing her retirement to stay and support the charity during the pandemic.

Jo Tonkin has been director of care at St Helena Hospice for almost three years and was due to retire in March.

However, when Covid-19 struck, she chose to defer her retirement to stay and help out, supporting the hospice’s response to the coronavirus.

Mark Jarman-Howe, chief executive at the hospice, said: “As an organisation we cannot thank Jo enough for all she has done since she joined us and particularly in the last few months, deferring her retirement to support us through this challenging time.

“Jo has had a positive impact, quickly. In the two years before Covid-19 struck, thanks to Jo, St Helena Hospice was able to support 20 per cent more patients and families in north east Essex.

“The legacy she leaves behind is improved safety, effectiveness and quality in everything we do, whilst providing more care and support to more people.

“I know patients and families have really appreciated Jo’s approach to the role.”

Jo has had a long career as a nurse consultant and senior clinical leader in the NHS, mostly at Colchester Hospital, before moving to St Helena Hospice.

Although taking early retirement, Jo is planning to return to St Helena Hospice to help them with their flu vaccination programme in September and will continue to support the charity as a fundraising volunteer.

Jo said: “I couldn’t have enjoyed the last three years more.

“It’s been an absolute privilege to work with such an amazing team here and to see so much done for so many wonderful patients and families.

“It’s all down to the team at St Helena and every single person plays a really valid part in the care that we provide and such a fantastic service.”