Birtley businessman gives up Christmas Eve to help Willow Burn Hospice


Birtley businessman Joe Bell is giving up time with his family on Christmas Eve to help out at Willow Burn Hospice.

Forty-two-year-old Joe – a partner in In2Serve – said: “I’m more used to fitting kitchens than cooking in one but I’m more than happy to do anything that’s required to spread a bit of Christmas cheer.”

Joe will be joined on Christmas Eve by his senior sales consultant Mike Elson. Both have very personal reasons for volunteering their time.

Mike’s grandad was cared for by a hospice after suffering a stroke and Joe says he regrets not visiting his grandma enough times when she was seriously ill.

“Having come to Willow Burn a few times now, I’ve realised what a great place it is for the patients and their families and there’s no need to be nervous about coming here,” he said.

Joe is also a member of the business networking group BNI alongside Willow Burn’s Income Generation and Marketing Manager Katherine Luke.

“I’ve heard from Katherine about all the fantastic things that happen at Willow Burn and I just wanted to do my little bit,” he said.

“As you can see I might not know a colander from a cauliflower but I’m a dab hand at peeling spuds – and if they’re short of a Santa I’m about the right size.”

Katherine Luke said: “We’re really grateful to In2Serve and I know Joe will bring a lot of smiles to Willow Burn on Christmas Eve. We receive so much support from local businesses, schools and individuals and their help really does make a difference.”

Willow Burn Hospice has treasured the lives of more than 10,000 patients in County Durham since 1989. Proceeds from fund-raising support its present services – including the Sir Tom Cowie Day Hospice which opened in July 2014. It was the first stage of an ambitious transformation programme, planned to be completed by 2020, which include the building of a £2.2m in-patient hospice to increase the number of beds from four to six.

“People have been so generous over the years even when money has been tight,” said Katherine. “Public support and donations are the only way we can continue and improve the care and facilities we provide for our patients and their families when they really need us most.”