THE devastating impact of Graham Leggatt Chidgey's fraud has been laid bare by the chair of trustees.

The former chief executive of Butterwick Hospice admitted spending more than £90,000 of the charity's money on designer goods.

Judith Hunter said the impact of his deception is still being felt by the charity's staff and volunteers.

And reading out the full transcript of the charity's victim impact statement, she said: "The victim of this crime is Butterwick Hospice Care. But to say this, is to underestimate the reach and depth of the deception and treachery on individuals whose lives are integrated with the hospice in one way or another. As Chair of the Board of Trustees, I am pleased to have this opportunity to state the ways in which this crime has impacted on us all.

"The hospice has facilities in Stockton on Tees, Bishop Auckland and Weardale providing care to children and adults with progressive life limiting conditions and their families. The actions of one woman in 1984, using her own money from the sale of her house, established the hospice.

"Mary Butterwick, now deceased, in memory of her husband John, developed the hospice with the aim of providing a holistic experience for people and their families moving towards the end of life. Mary’s story and the hospice are widely known across the north-east of England and ‘the Butterwick’ is a much-loved charity.

"The principal impact on the organisation has been financial and reputational, individuals have however, in a number of ways, suffered emotionally and psychologically in a form of organisational bereavement where a constant cycling of anger, disbelief, shock and feelings of betrayal have affected people’s emotional well-being.

"The hospice has cared for thousands of patients and families over the last 34 years and the negative news associated with this crime has evoked many unsettling memories for people.

"Current patients and their families were anxious about the viability of the hospice. Following the arrest of the former CEO, patients asked if they were still able to receive care from the hospice team. This is shocking, these patients and families should not have had to worry about their continuing care. The trauma this has caused our patients and their families is abhorrent. I can offer assurance that patient care delivery has not been directly affected as a consequence of the actions of Graham Leggatt-Chidgey.

"Volunteers and staff who have given years of service to the hospice feel cheated and belittled by the arrogance of Mr Leggatt-Chidgey. He was after all their leader and the public face of Butterwick Hospice Care for 21 years, a position held in regard but sadly abused. Staff have had an unsettled year as despite assurance they have been unsure about the viability of their employment, with some staff choosing to leave jobs held for many years. This has resulted in additional destabilisation across the organisation as well as the cost of having to recruit new staff.

"The Butterwick Board of Trustees and management team have expended time and energy to provide leadership and reassurance that the hospice will continue to deliver quality care and that it is ‘business as usual’.

"Butterwick Hospice Care is aware that its reputation has been greatly damaged by the actions of Graham Leggatt-Chidgey and whilst we can calculate the financial impact, this has had in the short term we are unable to calculate the true on-going loss of potential income to the organisation as we try and rebuild trust. People who have relatives or friends, now deceased often give donations in lovingly memory of family and friends: others give money to enhance the remaining lives of terminally ill children and adults; money is donated to provide support and therapies to families of people going through trauma and anxiety.

"However, since the arrest of Graham Leggatt-Chidgey we have seen a reduction in all fundraising activities, events and donations. The hospice has seen a decrease of financial support with:

• Community fundraising down by £70,000

• In memorium donations down by £30,000

In total we have seen a reduction in fundraising and donations of £100,000

"As we strive to rebuild, we also have to acknowledge that we must not only recover the monies misappropriated but also restore the finances of Butterwick, so far as is possible, to where they would have been, and in order to bring about closure.

"I therefore respectfully request the support of the Court not only in obtaining repayment of the monies misappropriated by Mr Leggatt-Chidgey but also in ordering appropriate compensation to help restore the hospice’s finances to where they would have been but for the indirect losses caused by Mr Leggatt-Chidgey’s dishonesty. Donors have stressed how important it is to them to know that arrangements can be made for the money deceptively obtained by Graham Leggatt-Chidgey to be paid back to the hospice.

The Butterwick family have been there throughout this awful episode and they too have been significantly affected at a time so soon after having lost Mary. They have been forced to dwell emotionally and psychologically on seeing so much of what their dearly loved mother, nan and great grandmother stood for – love, selflessness and courage - sullied by one individual’s selfish and heartless deception.

"The contrast between Mary, who had sold everything she owned to create the Butterwick for the good of others, people she didn’t even know and the reason we are here today still shocks and angers us all.

"On a positive note however, following the court appearance last month, the community sense of outrage is now turning into support for the hospice with the ‘we’re backing the Butterwick ‘campaign, and for this we are truly grateful.

"Finally, the Butterwick Hospice was established by the work of one woman, it will not be destroyed by the actions of one man and I encourage the local community to support the hospice, a much-loved local charity."