Continuing the monthly series by Debbie Jones, the Chief Executive of Butterwick Hospice Care

IT has been a privilege for me to work with a fantastic team – and Paula Wood has undoubtedly been one of the stars at Butterwick Hospice Care.

Paula has been with the charity for 19 years and, for the past five of them, has been Director of Patient Care and Service Development. She started with us as a nurse and has gone on to be a key figure at the hospice.

Sadly, Paula has decided to step down and move on to other challenges, but I want to take this opportunity to thank her for all she has done. Not only has she been a great source of support professionally, but she has also helped me enormously on a personal level.

Among many other initiatives, she was responsible for setting up three outreach hospices and went on to set up the neurological services at Barnard Castle and Bishop Auckland. Paula, pictured on the right below, was also responsible for developing the family support service across Bishop Auckland and setting up the Homecare service, making sure patients have access to the best possible care at home, and that has meant so much to many families.

She has made a huge difference to the organisation, and she will be big shoes to fill, but it’s my job now to find the right person to carry on Paula’s great work.

Thank you, Paula, and good luck for the future.

The Northern Echo:

I WAS delighted to see the recent story in the local papers about Luke Porritt, who has risen from being a volunteer in our Stockton shop to take over as manager.

By his own admission, Luke, pictured below, was lacking self-confidence when he joined us 12 years ago, and it has been inspiring to see how he has grown during that time.

We were privileged to care for Luke’s mum, Celia, after she was diagnosed with a terminal illness and he has done her proud with his enthusiasm and professionalism.

He has now succeeded his mentor, Wilma Hastie, as manager of the Stockton shop and he personifies the holistic approach Butterwick Hospice Care takes.

Encouraging volunteers, and giving them invaluable experience, is just one of the ways we can make a difference to our local community and I’m so proud of what Luke has achieved.

The Northern Echo:

OUR fundraising team works exceptionally hard to arrange a fun-packed events calendar and, every year, we try to enrich the programme.

This year, we have added the Glow Walk and it is certain to be a real spectacle on Stockton Riverside from 6.30pm on March 28.

You can choose either a 3k or 6k walk so it really is a case of READY, STEADY, GLOW!

To find out more, please go to www.butterwick.org.uk/events/glowwalk2020.

The week before that, on March 21, we have our 10k Obstacle Course, at Shildon. If you’re looking to challenge yourself, and are one of those people who enjoy overcoming life’s obstacles, please check it out at https://www.butterwick.org.uk/events/10kobstaclecourse/

The Northern Echo:

FUNDRAISING has never been more important for us because we are approaching the end of our financial year and there’s no hiding from the fact that it’s an extremely tough landscape for charities.

We are so grateful for every penny that is raised in our name and it really does make a huge difference to what we are able to do.

However, moving forward, it is clear that we are not going to be able to sustain the financial position we are in, so we will inevitably have to review the services we offer.

Obviously, every effort will be made to minimise the impact on patients and families, but I believe it is important to be open and honest about the challenges we are facing.

ON a more upbeat note, I am delighted at the way our new team is gelling in the children’s unit following well-documented recent staffing difficulties. The unit is functioning really well, and the new recruits have hit the ground running so well done to them, as well as the existing staff who have been absolute stars throughout.

FINALLY, I was honoured to be invited to visit the Abu Bakr Mosque in Middlesbrough recently, along with two other members of the Butterwick team.

We had positive discussions about how we can support the Muslim community, and we are planning to progress the relationship with some workshops soon. I see it as an important development and want to thank the leaders of the mosque for making us so welcome.