Graeme Hetherington looks at what the future holds for the Butterwick Hospice as it brings in new trustees to drive the charity forward and secure Mary Butterwick’s legacy.

A NEW influx of Trustees are set to help a much-loved hospice continue to rebuild its reputation in the community after it was severely dented by the fraudulent behaviour of its former chief executive.

Butterwick Hospice has been the cornerstone of end-of-life care for people across the region since it opened its doors almost 40 years ago but Graham Leggatt Chidgey's imprisonment, for defrauding the charity out of tens-of-thousands of pounds, lost it vital funding and, more significantly, the trust of some of its supporters.

Now, almost two years after Leggatt Chidgey's arrest, the charity is using new impetus from the expanded board of trustees to drive through some new ideas and ensure that the hospice will continue to provide excellent care for people suffering from severely debilitating or terminal illness. And Judith Hunter, the chair of trustees, believes the future is looking promising.

"Isn't it great that we have got a lot of young people coming in because it has dropped the average age of the Trustees by about 30 years," she jokes. "I think that's great, I think that's quite heartwarming that young people with families can see that the hospice has some longevity for our area. It is young people coming in, it's people who understand the digital age who can actually help us to use those skills and talents they have got to strengthen the hospice further.

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Hospice visitors enjoying some light exercise

"A lot of things have changed since the hospice was set up. It was a terrible time but I think it has made the organisation much stronger – it was needed. I have been a trustee for a number of years and the new people coming onboard are very eminent people from around that region and that is a vote of confidence in the hospice."

The seven new trustees – Professor Mike Bramble, John Armitage, Paul Walker, Lesley Cooke, Colin Pitcher, Ben Hart, and Peter Hinton – come from a wide range of professional disciplines.

Professor Bramble: A retired Consultant Gastroenterologist, having worked at Middlesbrough General Hospital and then the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough since 1982. Prof Bramble was Vice-President of the British Society of Gastroenterology and Chairman of the British Society of Gastroenterology Endoscopy Committee 2000-2002. From 2000 -2006, he advised the government on endoscope decontamination in relation to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

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Professor Mike Bramble, above

John Armitage: A Billingham father-of-two, John is a 35-year veteran of the automotive industry, working at senior management and board level. He now runs several businesses, covering management consultancy, specialist sales training, and mind-set education. He is also a semi-professional musician, working the north’s pub and club circuit as a singer. He was inspired to join the team after losing two close family members to cancer, including his sister, who was cared for in the hospice.

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John Armitage, above

Paul Walker: A Teessider Paul also has a background in the motor industry and his wife, Leann, is a children’s nurse at North Tees Hospital. Father-of-two Paul is a Middlesbrough Football Club season ticket-holder and has been an active supporter of local good causes, including raising £12,500 for North Tees Hospital children’s ward.

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Paul Walker, above

Colin Pitcher: A father-of-two and grandfather-of-four, is retired after spending 45 years in NHS senior management, with posts including Head of HR at South Cleveland Hospital, Director of HR at the Ambulance Service, and Director of Estates. Colin has lived in Long Newton for 36 years with his wife, Olwyne, a hospice volunteer.

Ben Hart: Principle Consultant working in Service Delivery; specialising in process engineering, automation and digital technologies. Ben, from Norton, said: “I wanted to join the Butterwick Hospice after conversations with both Debbie and Judith; seeing two people so passionate about supporting our local people in their most vulnerable time fills me with hope.”

Lesley Cooke: A mother-of-three and grandmother-of-five, she trained as a diagnostic radiographer at Stockton and Thornaby Hospital before moving to North Tees. Stockton born and bred, she has worked as a radiographer in the NHS and private sector as well as for ICI Billingham. Lesley has been heavily involved in the voluntary sector, starting with the Scouting Association. She was a magistrate for 15 years and the lay member for Stockton Safeguarding Children Board.

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Lesley Cooke, above

Peter Hinton: Peter is a designer, developer, keen traveller, and proud Teessider. Collaborating closely with forward-thinking companies, Peter is a multidisciplinary producer of industry-leading UX, design, and development solutions with more than a decade’s experience as both a manager and service provider.”

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Peter Hinton, above

For further details about the charity, which has facilities in Stockton and Bishop Auckland visit