TWO women who have gone above and beyond at a hospice despite Covid-19 risks, have received the Echo's Bouquet of the Week.

Maria Sowerby and Gaynor Regan, housekeepers at St Teresa’s Hospice, in Darlington, are both our worthy recipients after being nominated by colleague, Paul Frankland.

Mr Frankland, housekeeping and catering manager at the hospice, said: “Maria Sowerby and Gaynor Regan fully deserve a thank you for their unselfish actions during this ongoing pandemic.

“When the Covid-19 pandemic started, some housekeeping staff were made to self-isolate due to the risk to themselves, meaning that there was a greater workload to make sure all patients, visitors, and staff at St Teresa’s Hospice were safe from the virus and harm.

“In the difficult, stressful and frightening months that followed the outbreak, Gaynor and Maria worked tirelessly in a very physical and mentally draining environment to make sure that the virus was kept out of the workplace, keeping the buildings safe for all.

“With the quickly moving requirements to adapt to changes in PPE and decontamination routines, they both agreed to take the challenge on and made it their mission to control the virus, even at the cost of them not taking leave for over six months so as to not add stress to each other.

“This is even more remarkable as they both have young families, but keeping everyone safe was their own mission.

“Week in and week out they came to work with a positive and professional mindset and attitude, which allowed staff at the hospice to go about their daily duties providing excellent and much-needed care to patients, while also keeping staff safe, and this allowed medical staff to visit patients in the community.

“Housekeepers have a key role within a care environment, not only keeping the area safe and clean for all, but also as a listening ear for patients and family at their most difficult and upsetting times.

“Even a simple smile can mean so much to a patient, but this has not always been possible from behind a mask and visor.

“However, the girls have always taken time to speak to the patients and to reassure them that they are keeping them, family and staff safe, and even telling them they ‘are smiling under this mask’ which has meant so much for the patients.

“As Gaynor and Maria’s line manager, I’m very proud of the way they have and are continuing to take on the challenge of Covid-19 with no complaints and with a selfless attitude, and I feel they are fully deserving of the Bouquet of the Week.”

To nominate a person or group for Bouquet of the Week, email, making sure to include your daytime telephone number.

Flowers are kindly provided by Heavenly Scent, Bondgate, Darlington, telephone 01325-389933.