The Butterwick Story
Without warning, anyone can be thrown into a situation over which they have very little control. Such is the case when we or a loved one is given a life-limiting diagnosis. In a moment we are on a roller coaster of emotions including disbelief, anger, fear and huge concern. We are powerless to halt the reality of the situation we suddenly find ourselves in. All the parameters of our lives shift violently and the world we know suddenly no longer exists.
This was the situation that Mary Butterwick, an ordinary mum of four, found herself in. Her husband, John, had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and within just two weeks from the date of that awful diagnosis, Mary was told to go home and forget her husband as there was nothing more she could do. John died very shortly afterwards.
Disbelief and confusion followed. Mary was distressed; her family were distressed. She was offered no guidance, no answers to the many questions she needed to ask, no support and her only advice was that cold clinical instruction to ‘go home and forget him’.
This tragic situation is where the Butterwick Hospice story begins. John Butterwick died in 1979 and following that awful experience Mary became more and more convinced there had to be a better more caring and compassionate way for patients and their loved ones to experience serious illness and eventually loss of life.
The hospice movement was in its infancy in those days, created by Dame Cicely Saunders following her own tragic losses under similar circumstances. Mary volunteered at her local hospital and tried to bring comfort to people who were suffering like her. She learned all she could about the hospice movement and rallied friends and supporters around her idea that a better, more caring and compassionate way of helping people to experience death was possible.
Mary was a Christian who believed in her faith and that somehow a way would be found to create a better way to provide end of life care for local people.
In January 1984 after selling her family home to kick start the finance she needed Mary opened the first-day hospice in Stockton. Mary and a small group of volunteer nurses and supporters delivered her recipe of loving care and compassion to those who were dying and gave comfort and hope to their loved ones.
The difference Mary’s recipe of care made to patients and their loved ones was so great that offers of help poured in. Word spread about the work that Mary and her dedicated team were doing and Mary took every opportunity to promote Butterwick Hospice, at that time known as The John Butterwick Trust.
And so it has been since those early days of Butterwick Hospice. Much has changed in so far as the charity has grown beyond anything Mary had ever imagined. The timeline of developments over the last three decades are impressive and speak volumes about the key aim of Butterwick Hospice and how truly the Hospice has stuck to Mary’s initial dream and the ethos of hospice care.
Butterwick Hospice Care has become a highly respected and well-loved local charity that provides its special brand of care to thousands of people each year. Butterwick now provides help to people of all ages. Services are given free of charge to patients and their loved ones. The Hospice provides the highest quality of care and comfort and staff and volunteers believe passionately in its purpose.
Butterwick is supported by people from all walks of life across a broad area of the North East. As a brand, the Hospice is well known and respected and many leading companies from all areas of business are very proud to associate themselves with Butterwick Hospice by adding their financial support and expertise to help fund Butterwick’s Doctors and nurses, therapists and family support teams.
Butterwick Hospice appeals to everyone to support its aim to offer real help to those who are facing a life-limiting illness. None of us are exempt from being touched by serious illness. By adding your support to Butterwick Hospice Care you will help to ensure that Butterwick’s specialist care and compassion is available when it matters most.
Today Butterwick Hospice Care still has strong ties with the Butterwick family. Marys grandson Stephen and granddaughter Karen together with their partners are four of our ambassadors.