To celebrate and commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Agape House, Friends of Hospice will host Hats, Hearts and High Tea at Fairmont Southampton’s Windows on the Sound on February 27th.

Entertainment includes a contest for the “most marvelous, natural, and most unique hats”. Live music will be provided by Tony Bari on keys, with vocals by Sheila Smith and Ronnie Lopes.

There”s also a set of gift baskets up for grabs as raffle prizes. Organizers are hoping to make a small profit from proceeds which will support Agape House.

Over the past 25 years, Friends of Hospice has “contributed $5,000,000 to support services, extensive renovations, purchase of equipment, professional development for staff, full costs for the professional kitchen (chef + food etc.); prescriptions for those without insurance, or who have ‘maxed’ out their insurance”.

Agape House was founded by Russ Ford and Dr. Susan Hillman who opened the facility on February 27, 1991, with the late Hilary Soares as its first Director. To date, it is the only hospice care facility in Bermuda.

Agape House co-founder Russ Ford with the late Hilary Soares


There were 60 admissions during the first year, at a time when medical treatment of patients with Aids sparked controversy in the local community. Although the focus soon “changed from Aids to Cancer and end of life care”.

Executive Director Cathy Belvedere said Agape House “currently averages 100 patients per year”.

“More than 2000 patients have been served.

“Currently 60% of Agape’s patients are cancer related illness – the remaining 40% are other serious illnesses – 60% of the patients are end of life care – the remaining 40% are symptom management inpatients who may only need a short admission, and not necessarily be at the end of their life.”

In 1994, Friends of Hospice was formed “to provide necessary financial support for programmes, create awareness of palliative care, and provide quality of life care”. BHB owns the building and land “and provide for costs of medical staff, IT support, cleaning, laundry etc”.

In 2007, Dr. Sharon Alikhani was hired by BHB to be the Physician in charge of Agape House. Four years later, a Day Hospice opened in November 2011 offering ” services to appropriate patients in the community as a support system providing holistic approach to after care therapy”. This programme is by referral only, and is free of charge.

Other programmes offered include complimentary therapy, a Bereavement Support Program, Art Therapy, and Pet therapy.

Committee members Sandy Williams, Nicky Gurret, Jeelise Allen, and Cathy Chiappa Belvedere


Ms Belvedere noted: “The Newest programme on offer is for caregivers who are family members, or friends, to provide necessary support to patients on self-care. This programme is by referral and is also offered free.

“PALS and Friends have worked in tandem to develop volunteers with specialist training in ‘Companioning the Dying’, we also share volunteer drivers as we share some of the same patients,” she added.

“More than 300+ volunteers support Agape House for meal service delivery, reception duties after hours and on the weekends, assist with grocery purchase, activities for patients, and companioning. Volunteers are also the core support for Friends of Hospice fund raising and events.”

Tickets for the High Tea are available at $75 per person. For more information call the Friends of Hospice office at 232 0859, or email