Shortly before his appointment as Prime Minister, Gordon Brown published a book. Courage: Eight Portraits looks at the amazing examples of courage in the face of adversity shown by Nelson Mandela, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, Aung San Suu Kyi, Edith Cavell, Raoul Wallenberg, and the pioneer of palliative care Dr Cicely Saunders.

An extract from Courage: Eight Portraits:

The suffering of the dying has been eased for unknown thousands of people because of the courage of Cicely Saunders. In the words of her biographer, Shirley du Boulay: "Through her, dying has lost some of its sting." Cicely's life spanned the 20th century and she is one of its greatest humanitarians. "Suffering is only intolerable when nobody cares," she often said. Her work has made it possible for people with progressive illnesses to live - fully and purposefully - until the last.

It is encouraging that the Prime Minister chose Cicely Saunders as one of his 'courage heroes'. Gordon Brown himself has personal experience of suffering - one of his three children died after a premature birth and another has cystic fibrosis. Our new Prime Minister's views on palliative care and end-of-life issues will be crucial to future developments in this country.