“God touched me and set me the work to do."
Freda Kathleen Pearce was born on the 3rd October 1912 at Leeswood near Mold in Flintshire to Elda and Ernest Garston, a miner. Freda left school at the age of 13 to help look after her seven brothers and sisters as her mother was in later life confined to a wheelchair. Her childhood was a very happy one; although, but for the soup kitchens, the family would not have survived the General Strike of 1926. At 18 Freda left home and went into service as a Lady's companion and three years later came to Hereford to nurse a sick aunt. She met and married Vic Pearce, a local police officer and they had three children, Pat, Clive and Ian. She became Assistant Buyer with Greenlands and chief children's fashion buyer with Lindsey Price. Unfortunately Vic did not enjoy good health in later years and Freda devoted herself to nursing him for the last 20 years of his life until his death in June 1983.
In 1974 Freda herself became ill and a cervical carcinoma was diagnosed. She received drastic radiotherapy, and when she was discharged in the spring she was given six months to live. It was during convalescence, that she decided to raise funds for the purchase of a body scanner. She told her daughter Pat, "God touched me and set me the work to do." With the help of an enthusiastic committee £178,000 was raised and Freda had the honour to be presented to Princess Anne.
She then got herself involved with the idea of starting a Hospice for Herefordshire. The Freda Pearce Foundation was formed in 1979 and was instrumental in raising the funds to build the Hospice. Freda's biggest scoop was a £50,000 donation from the then King Khalid of Saudi Arabia! In 1982 she was thrilled to be invited to a Royal Garden Party and was awarded the MBE. She always insisted that she received this because of the generosity of the public, and for her fellow workers. Unfortunately, Freda died before the Hospice was completed, but her legacy lives on; although the original group has changed its name to the ‘Hereford City Fundraising Committee', the charity remains ‘St Michael's Hospice (incorporating the Freda Pearce Foundation)'.