‘A world of love’: Behind the scenes at Hartlepool & District Hospice

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IT may well be the most supported charity cause in Hartlepool.

But there’s still a perception that Hartlepool & District Hospice is a sombre place and a tough environment to work in.

CHRIS CORDNER went behind the scenes to find out the reality.

“IT’S an absolute privilege to work here. I love it.”

These are the words of, well, just about every member of staff I met at the hospice in Wells Avenue.

And instead of talking to straight and strained faces, I entered a world of love.

A world of smiles and, more often than not, laughter.

Far from being depressing, the hospice is warm and welcoming.

The hospice is a lively place and one where there are always activities for the patients in the Day Hospice Unit.

On the day I visit they are having karaoke and there are tables laden heavy with Christmas produce for the patients to buy courtesy of a top town retailer. Patients, many with extremely serious illnesses, are asking: “When’s the Christmas party?”

Events co-ordinator Greg Hildreth explained why so many staff love their work there.

“Who would want to leave? At the end of the day, I go home and know that I have helped people.”

And like many staff, he’s had personal experience of the beautiful service the Hospice provides.

His granddad, Jack Hildreth, was 70 when he died after a three month battle with cancer.

His final days were spent at the old Hospice in Hutton Avenue.

“I was 14 at the time and this has always remained the preferred charity in our house.” Now, Greg organises some of the best known charity events in town such as the Santa Fun Run, Dogs Day Out, Light up a Life and the Moonlight Walk.

He and other members of the team have raised the profile of the hospice in other ways as well, notably with television appearances such as Eggheads and Weakest Link.

Hospice fundraising manager John Martindale explains why he’s happy in his work. He’s the man who has line managed the fundraising team for 10 years after previously working as a self-employed salesman.

“When I started here, it surprised me how nice it was to work here. It is a great sense of achievement to know you have worked for a good cause.”

To support Hartlepool & District Hospice in its work, contact (01429) 855555.

l NEXT TIME: The worker whose father’s last days were in the hospice, just four months after she joined.