Great Britain

Debbie's Diary...the latest monthly update from Butterwick Hospice Care

Continuing the series of monthly updates from the Chief Executive of Butterwick Hospice Care, DEBBIE JONES…

WELCOME to the latest instalment of Debbie’s Diary, which aims to keep you up to date with developments at our amazing charity.

It continues to be a challenging time for all charities but there are some really positive initiatives and events to look forward to as we head deeper into 2020.

I’d like to start with welcoming a new partnership with a charity called the Eastern Ravens Trust that supports isolated and disadvantaged young people and their families in the Stockton area.

We’ve joined forces to launch Saturday drop-in sessions for secondary school age children who are either bereaved or young carers. This is a 12-week pilot project that’s an extension of our existing Kidz Club which meets at the Stockton hospice on Wednesday evenings.

It demonstrates yet again the breadth of the services Butterwick Hospice Care provides, and we’re always willing to consider partnerships with other local charities.

The Eastern Ravens Trust carries out invaluable work in its own right and we’re looking forward to forging a successful relationship with the result that more children get the support they need.

WE’RE also excited to have launched our #AMillionKisses appeal, which asks supporters to put on lipstick, kiss a special Butterwick Kiss Card, and return it to the hospice with a donation.

Thank you so much to Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas for kicking off the appeal while she was in Darlington recently. Shirley filmed a lovely video message and put her best lippy on to send us a kiss card. She definitely gets a 10 from us.

We plan to display a collection of the cards as a testament to the love shown to the charity and Shirley’s will have pride of place. Other celebrities are also puckering up so watch out for next month’s diary.

The Northern Echo:

DOESN’T time fly? Can you believe we’re gearing up for the 25th anniversary of our wonderful hospice at Bishop Auckland on June 28.

The Bishop Auckland site is so important to us and we have staff and volunteers there who have been with us for the full quarter of a century. Lots of celebrations are being planned so watch this space.

IN the meantime, I need to give a big shout out for our fabulous shops which play such a vital role in our fundraising operation.

Our shop in Billingham, for example, is developing a specialist reputation for crafts, including knitting, sewing and quilting. The staff are ‘sew’ brilliant.

Over at Norton and Thornaby, our shops are busy showcasing proms dresses, while the Billingham shop is also a hotspot for wedding dresses.

Whether it’s a prom or a wedding, it means so much more when your dress not only looks stunning but is helping a great cause at the same time.

The Northern Echo:

TWO thirds of our costs are met by donations, so we’re always looking for new ways to generate income.

One new initiative is to hire out rooms at both sites in Stockton and Bishop Auckland for meetings or events. Not only does it raise money, but it opens us up to the local community so please get in touch if you need a room.

IT’S so important that we recognise the contributions made by the army of people – doctors, nurses, carers, and volunteers – who make the Butterwick such a special charity.

That was the whole point of the recent annual thanksgiving service held at Green Lane Methodist Church in Hartburn, Stockton.

The event was started by our inspirational founder, Mary Butterwick, and it’s the perfect opportunity to simply say “thank you”.

The turnout this year was brilliant, and we were honoured to have a host of civic dignitaries in the congregation.

For me, it was a reminder of how lucky we are to have such special people supporting us in so many ways.

OUR Burns Night bash, complete with traditional Scottish ceilidh, was another great success.

The feedback was positive, a good time was had by all, and I’m sure Robbie Burns would have been proud of the kilts. Here’s to next year.

IT’S no secret that we’ve had recruitment issues which led to the temporary closure of our children’s unit, but I’m delighted to say we’re back to full strength.

The last two vacancies for Registered Sick Children’s Nurses have been filled and they were the final pieces in the jigsaw.

There’s such a positive feel about the place, so we can look to the future with confidence.

MARCH is shaping up to be another busy month, with several lovely events, including:

Full details at www.butterwick.org.uk/events/

FINALLY, we trialled our first twilight corporate networking event at the magnificent Rockliffe Hall, at Hurworth-on-Tees.

We regularly have breakfast and evening events, but we thought we’d try starting at 4pm, and we were pleased with the response.

It was an honour to present Simon Grant, of Business Doctors, with his certificate as a new “Butterwick Friend”. Simon’s support was inspired by the care his dad, John, received at the hospice before he died last June.

Simon said: “My dad had a good life and the Butterwick ensured he had a good death. The care was fantastic, and I just want to give something back.”