Ron Mason

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RON Mason, who has died aged 93, was an RAF Wing Commander and worked in Group Management Services at Rowntrees in York before joining the team developing the new St Leonard’s Hospice in York.

On his retirement from Rowntrees, his wife Moyra, knowing that an inactive retirement was not in his nature, asked Colleen Copley, whose husband Trevor was chairman of the new hospice’s steering committee and a member of the group board of Rowntrees, if there might be a role as St Leonard’s developed.

At this time the new building for St Leonard’s Hospice was under construction, after some years of fundraising by the community; the initial idea for a hospice in York came from four local nurses, Mae Graham, Elizabeth Jewitt, Margaret Ackroyd and Pat Grigsby.

Trevor Copley invited Mr Mason to meet him, took him round the site to show him what was being planned and told him of the need for an administrator in the new hospice.

He took on the position, working as a volunteer until the hospice admitted its first patient in February 1985. He formed part of the three-person management team responsible for the development and smooth running of the hospice, together with the matron, Janet Kay RGN, and the medical director, Dr Sue Collier.

Apart from setting up the initial financial and administrative reporting systems, one of Mr Mason’s many innovations was the acquisition of a caravan so that the hospice could be represented at events, shows and fairs in the area – he even gave lessons in how to manoeuvre it!.

He was also instrumental in finding and operating the hospice’s first charity shop, in Acomb, which still serves the local community and raises considerable funds for the Hospice.

Always one to lead by example, he insisted that all staff should call him Ron – never ‘Wing Commander’ and was keen to find opportunities for their development and advancement.

His staff at the hospice remember him as honest, trustworthy, hard-working, calm, considerate and never fazed. He had the gift of being comfortable in any situation, knowing the right thing to say and putting people at their ease. He taught staff the simple lesson of never writing a speech when going to receive a donation for the hospice, but simply to listen to the people presenting and then speak from the heart.

He retired from St Leonard’s Hospice in 1992 and he and Moyra moved to Swindon to be near their family. He briefly hit the headlines in 2000 when he sold notes written by Adolf Hitler in 1939 (relating to a notorious anti-Jewish speech to the Reichstag), which he had acquired in his RAF days in 1954 in exchange for a packet of cigarettes.

Ron Mason died on December 8 at his home in Lydiard Millicent, Swindon. He is survived by his wife Moyra, three daughters and a son.

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