A North-East mum with a wealth of experience in health service management has been unveiled as the new head of one of the region’s best known charities.
Debbie Jones takes over as chief executive of Butterwick Hospice Care on September 1. She has held several health service management roles and is currently the National Service Improvement Manager for NHS Property Services.
Debbie, who was born in Newcastle, said: “I am extremely excited, and humbled, to be asked to take on this responsibility in an incredibly important organisation that means so much to people in our region.”
The appointment follows previous chief executive Graham Leggatt-Chidgey standing down from his role in April. He has since been arrested on suspicion of fraud and a police investigation is ongoing.
Debbie said: “These are clearly difficult times, and I’m unable to comment in any detail about the police investigation for obvious legal reasons. However, all my efforts will go into moving forward and rebuilding confidence in an organisation that has carried out amazing work for more than 30 years.”
The Butterwick Hospice movement was launched in 1984 by inspirational Stockton mum-of-four Mary Butterwick, OBE. When her beloved husband, John, died of cancer, Mary responded by selling her home to kick-start the finances for a place where people could die with dignity. She died, aged 91, in October 2015.
Debbie said: “In the midst of her own personal grief, Mary saw the big picture, and that is what we all have to do now to ensure her precious legacy continues. My priority is to ensure that we run a tight a ship so that our army of loyal fundraisers have complete confidence, and to combine that with ambassadorial duties to keep the Butterwick’s profile is as high as possible.”
She said it spoke volumes about the future of the hospice that Mary’s grand-daughter, Karen Holder, had agreed to become the Butterwick’s latest ambassador.
The hospice’s chair of trustees, Judith Hunter, MBE, said: “Debbie was appointed from a very strong field of health care professionals and I am confident that we have someone with the experience, leadership skills and empathy to take the organisation into a new era.”
As well as her vast experience in the health sector, Debbie is also a former finalist in the Go-Kan-Ryu Karate World Championships and a qualified rugby union coach for youngsters up to the age of 11. She also enjoys the gentler hobby of gardening.
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