St Albans charity founder pens inspirational autobiography

Dr Mary Groves. Picture: Kath Pezet

Dr Mary Groves. Picture: Kath Pezet - Credit: Archant

The founder of a St Albans palliative care charity has recounted her life story in a new book.

Dr Mary Groves. Picture: Kath Pezet

Dr Mary Groves. Picture: Kath Pezet - Credit: Archant

Dr Mary Groves, co-founder of Rennie Grove Hospice Care, has written her autobiography, Doctor on a Mission, in order to inspire others to do charitable work.

The 88-year-old has led a varied life - growing up in County Durham during World War Two and studying medicine at Newcastle, before moving to west Africa in 1957.

There, Dr Groves worked at Sierra Leone’s Nixon Memorial Hospital, becoming an obstetrician and paediatrician at aged 26.

On her return to the UK in 1970, Dr Groves lived first in Bedford and then St Albans, becoming a GP at Midway Surgery in 1979.

Dr Mary Groves

Dr Mary Groves - Credit: Archant

Around that time the wheels had been set in motion to establish the St Albans City and District Hospice Care Team home volunteer group, which was destined to evolve into Grove House around a decade later.

Tragically, Dr Groves was given a personal reason to value the service when her first husband, minister Sidney Groves, passed away from cancer in 1986, surrounded by family at home.

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She said: “I had a very interesting life and a number of people said to me I should write about it, and my reply was always ‘I don’t want to show off or bring attention to myself’, but then they said ‘It might inspire people do to the same’.”

Five years ago, Grove House merged with Rennie Hospice at Home to make the umbrella charity thousands of people rely on today.

Marrying another minister called Colin Rowe in 1997, Dr Groves has been awarded an MBE for services to the community in St Albans and Sierra Leone,

She has also been involved with St Albans and District Churches Housing Association, now the Open Door Trust; the St Albans and District Bereavement Network; and the Hatfield Road Methodist Church.

Commenting on her Christianity, Dr Groves noted: “I believe there is a spirit that inspires people to get up and do something that is worthwhile and it is that spirit that has given me guidance and strength do to everything I have done. It has been an honour and a privilege to serve the St Albans community, and if I have helped people, that is the thing that makes me feel proud.”

Buy the book at Rennie Grove charity shops in St Albans and Harpenden, at Midway Surgery, or online at