This Trustees’ Week we are profiling trustees from hospices across the UK to gain an insight into the incredible work that they do. Paul Jackson is the chairman of the board of trustees at Willow Burn Hospice in Lanchester, County Durham. Here he tells us about his proudest moment as a trustee, and how he aims to make a difference to the local community.
A retired businessman with a strong connection to the local area, Paul first joined the hospice’s board to bring a business focus to the organisation and to get more involved in income generation. In 2017 he was appointed chairman of the board. “My role is very much to govern the activities of the hospice, to provide leadership and direction to the Board and to support Kirsty Crozier, our director of operations” he says.
“As I am retired, I am fortunate enough to have enough time to act as a figurehead for the charity and I am a recognised face of the hospice, often representing the charity at events and getting involved with fundraising. I play a key role in organising the Annual Ball, as well as many other income generation activities.”
These activities include organising dinners and entertainment evenings, presenting cheques to local groups, fundraising at key events like the Durham Beer Festival and collecting in person at local supermarkets. In fact he is so well known to the local community that many know him as Mr Willow Burn.
Paul sees their biggest challenge as funding, a difficulty faced by many hospices at the moment. “There is always the misconception that hospices are all fully funded by the NHS, which can make it difficult to generate income, but we are developing our communications to really dispel that myth.
“Location is a great thing for Willow Burn, but it also brings about challenges. We are lucky enough to have tremendous support from the local community, they really do go over and above to support the hospice but on the flip side, being based in rural North West Durham, means there are fewer opportunities for corporate support.”
However one such opportunity enabled them to open the Helen McArdle wing for in-patient care last year, thanks to a generous donation from the local entrepreneur. “It was a particularly proud moment for me” he says. “I am so happy that the warm, calm homely feeling from our old building has transferred across to the new hospice. We’ve always had a very good reputation and seeing patients and families interact with the staff and how they improve quality of life, really makes me so proud”.
Paul approached Helen McArdle with the idea for the new site shortly after she sold her business. After seeing their business plan she agreed to fund it. “It was a fantastic process” he says. “The designers and the builders worked very closely together, so did the whole team.”
When asked what he likes the most about being involved with the hospice he says it’s “the people. There is something very special about Willow Burn and the people who get involved. I get to work with a fantastic team of staff and volunteers, who work so hard to give patients and their families the very best care. When out and about representing Willow Burn, I meet some truly inspirational people who want to raise money for us or to volunteer their time. We all have one common goal and that is to ensure the local population get the very best possible facilities and care.
“The most important part of my role as a trustee is making a difference, not just to the patients and their families but also to the staff and my colleagues on the board. I make myself available to them when needed and I like to think that they know they can count on me.”
For more information visit Willow Burn Hospice
Trustees’ Week runs until Friday 8 November