Brighton has a long history of high quality care for the dying, provided by charitable / philanthropic organisations. In 1935 the Tarner Home was established which, through a generous endowment, provided care to the seriously ill who could not afford private nursing home fees. On a similar basis Coppercliff (which later became Coppercliff Hospice) came into existence in 1967, the same year that St Christopher’s Hospice opened under the leadership of Dame Cicely Saunders.

At the time, these two organisations were unique in the fact that as charities, they could provide their services at a cost affordable to everyone. Over the years, medical conditions became more complex and it was becoming impossible to meet patient’s needs from the restricted facilities of converted houses.

The purpose-built Martlets opened in 1997. The staff and services were formed from the merger of 3 separate charities: Coppercliff Hospice, Tarner and MacMillan Day Hospice; hence the 3 birds in the logo. A Martlet is a mythical heraldic bird which is thought to represent swallows. They are seen in the Sussex County crest and the Sussex County Cricket Club emblem. They are shown in flight with open wings and without feet, possibly because of the old belief that the swallow could never land. This reflects the Martlets ethos that we are perpetually in flight, never resting, always responding.

In 1997, the Martlets services consisted of 18 beds, with the Day Hospice opening 6 months later. Five years later the highly valuable Hospice at Home service was established and 10 years after opening we launched Martlets Care, a commercial domiciliary care company providing quality care in the home and also providing a sustainable income stream for the hospice.

Since opening, the Martlets has benefitted from three major grants (exceeding £1.2 million pounds) from NHS England. These funds have enabled us to ensure that we can adapt to meet the changing needs of our patients and their families through the refurbishment and extension of our facilities.

Across the hospice services, over 25,000 local people have been cared for and/or supported since 1997.