Ground breaking day for Willow Burn

After 29 years of service to the communities of Derwentside, we were proud to break the ground on Friday on a brand new, state of the art In-Patient Unit.

The £1.5million donation made by Helen McArdle has made the dream of continuing to provide excellent specialist end of life and palliative care across the region in an exceptional building reality for this local charity.


Breaking ground was Margaret Webb our Clinical Lead, who has been working as a nurse at Willow Burn Hospice for 25 years and worked with one of the founders of the Hospice; Valerie Davison.

Margaret said: “After 25 years this day has been a long time coming for the people of Derwentside, who deserve the best care that the Hospice can give. The staff are very excited about the new build and the opportunity to work in such a specialised facility. We will however be quite sad to close the doors on the original unit where we have cared for so many patients and their families over the years. “




The project has been made possible by the generosity of local businesswoman and philanthropist Helen McArdle, who was born in Derwentside. Her sons attended St Bede’s School, Willow Burn’s neighbour, and family friends and staff who used to work in her company’s care homes are employed at the hospice.

Son Mark McArdle, who attended the ground-breaking ceremony alongside North West Durham MP Laura Pidcock, said: “It’s difficult because we receive lots of requests for donations to help charities, but this is top of Helen’s agenda right now.” His mother decided to help after visiting Willow Burn. “We’ve been talking to the hospice for quite a long time and it was something we wanted to get involved in. She was just overwhelmed by the fantastic job staff do,” he said.

Paul Jackson, chair of the Willow Burn Hospice board, said: “She’s opted to help us and leave a legacy behind which we are really going to use to help the community in this part of Durham. There’s not a lot of money about – so this is really tremendous.”




Chief executive Vicki Dale praised the work of her staff and volunteers: “What people do and the way they do it – you see the difference it makes to people and their families. You’re still going to have that loving, caring and respectful side of everything that we do – but in a state-of-the-art new facility.”

Laura Pidcock MP said: “The staff work incredibly hard…and the fact that they’re going to get a brand new facility is absolutely fantastic. I’m blown away by the donation and the commitment of the staff. To have this resource is fantastic.”





Thank you to Daniel Sutherst for the photography





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