A HOSPICE has named its new ambulance after a volunteer driver who was killed when high winds brought a tree down on his bus.

George Brown, 68, died last September while driving the Butterwick Hospice bus on the A688 close to Dunhouse Quarry, near Staindrop, County Durham.

Mr Brown, who had volunteered for the hospice in Bishop Auckland for 12 years, was on his way to pick up patients in Barnard Castle when an ash tree fell on to his bus, killing him instantly.

On Tuesday, the hospice, in Woodhouse Lane, took delivery of its new bus, which they have called George.

Paula Wood, registered manager at the Bishop Auckland hospice, said: “The support from the local community following the accident last year and the loss of George was overwhelming.

“We felt it only right to name the new bus after George in recognition of his years of service. He was much-loved and is missed every day.”

Ms Wood said the ambulance service was vital for bringing people from across South Durham to the hospice’s day care facility.

She said: “It is a lifeline for many of our users. Without it many of them would struggle to get here.”

Since the accident, the hospice has been trying to raise £36,000 to buy a new bus, but a £20,000 donation by the Bishop Auckland and Shildon Area Action Partnership has completed the job.

County councillors for Bishop Auckland, Neil Harrison and Sam Zair, have each donated £10,000 from their partnership budgets.