Janet Kay, Matron, St Leonard’s Hospice

Janet Kay (nee Burdett) 

1947 – 31 July 2020 

In 1984 Janet became the first Matron of St Leonard’s Hospice. Her career started in York in 1965 when she trained as a nurse. She spent three years at an army medical centre in Germany then on her return to York trained as a health visitor. Later she became an occupational health nurse working at Terry’s chocolate factory. She was the first McMillan nurse in the area before her appointment to St Leonard’s Hospice. 

As the first matron she had an enormous job setting up the hospice. Of that time, Emma Johnson, St Leonard’s Hospice Chief Executive said, ‘Janet laid the foundations of care that are carried out today and our patients, staff and trustees will be forever grateful for the dedication she gave to St Leonard’s.’ 

In the late eighties, Janet’s dedication to patient care throughout her career was recognised when she was presented with The Macmillan Gold Medal of the National Society for Cancer Relief (NSCR; now Macmillan Cancer Support). This is awarded to nurses who have made a significant contribution to Macmillan Nursing Services. 

In 1991 Janet became general manager of the hospice and remained in post until 1998 when she returned to what she had initially trained to do – nursing. 

Trevor Copley, St Leonard’s chairman at the time wrote of her: ‘There are countless people who have a story to tell of Janet’s personal concern and sensitivity for patients and her instinctive understanding of the feelings of their families. Her daily, living commitment to the principles of the Hospice Movement has long been a yardstick and an inspiration for us all.’ 


2020; “Tribute paid to first matron of York’s St Leonard’s Hospice who has died”; York Press; 19 Aug 2020; accessed 29 Sept 2020. 

2020; “Remembering Janet Kay”; St. Leonard’s Hospice; accessed 29 Sept 2020; https://www.stleonardshospice.org.uk/News/Remembering-Janet-Kay