Skip to main content

CHSW Co-Founder and CEO announces retirement plans

23 May 2024 CHSW

Eddie Farwell, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW), has announced his plans to retire within the next year.

After founding the charity with his late wife Jill in 1991, and following 20 years as Chief Executive, Eddie has decided that now is the right time to hand over the reins.

“It’s not been an easy decision” explains Eddie.  

“This charity was born out of wanting to provide something to families in the South West where they could feel the same love, care and support that we had experienced for our family without having to travel outside of the region.  

“What now exists, our 3 children’s hospices serving more than 550 families, is beyond what I could ever have imagined.”

Jill and Eddie Farwell with their children Tom, Katie and Lizzy.

The initial idea to build a children’s hospice for families in the region came to Eddie in the middle of the night while he and his family were staying at Helen House children’s hospice in Oxford.  

Eddie and Jill’s 2 eldest children, Katie and Tom, had both been diagnosed with a rare degenerative genetic disorder that sadly meant they would not live to reach adulthood. The family’s only opportunity for respite was when they travelled to Helen House children’s hospice; somewhere that provided comfort and support from people who knew and understood their situation. It gave Jill and Eddie the opportunity to recharge their batteries and was a haven for their younger daughter Lizzy. This is what they wanted other families in the South West to have closer access to.

Eddie and Jill set up Children’s Hospice South West in 1991 from their family home in North Devon, to support children and young people living with life-limiting illnesses and their families. After a £1 million fundraising appeal CHSW’s first hospice Little Bridge House opened its doors in Fremington, near Barnstaple in 1995. Huge demand for its services led to an appeal to build Charlton Farm near Bristol which opened in 2007. Following this the Precious Lives Appeal was launched to bring a third hospice; Little Harbour, to support families living in Cornwall and Plymouth. Little Harbour opened in St Austell in 2011.

During the development of CHSW Eddie’s wife Jill received a diagnosis of breast cancer and sadly died in 2004. Following this Eddie gave up his role working for Devon County Council social services and succeeded Jill being appointed Chief Executive of CHSW in February 2005.  

Reflecting on the significance of planning his retirement for 2025 Eddie explains; 

2025 will be the 30th Anniversary of the opening of our first hospice, Little Bridge House, and will also mark 20 years as CEO. CHSW has been Jill’s and my life’s work, and it has been a privilege to be involved in such an endeavour. Not many people are given the opportunity to do as we have done.

The charity has been on a phenomenal journey since its inception in the laundry room of the Farwell’s family home, touching the lives of many that have used its hospices as well as supported it. Her Majesty The Queen became its Royal Patron in 2015 and has since visited all 3 hospices.  

Eddie was awarded an MBE for services to children’s palliative care in the New Year’s Honours List in 2015 and was made an Honorary Graduate from the University of Exeter in 2016.  

Reflecting on Eddie’s plans for retirement, Tricia Morris, Chair of Trustees at CHSW said; “To say that Eddie will be missed is a huge understatement. Eddie has been steering the CHSW ship with dedication, careful thought and passion that is so unique to him and his personal experience; that is what has made this charity’s work and its hospices so special.”