Staff at a North East hospital have raised more than £1,000 for charity by holding coffee mornings in memory of a dearly-missed friend and colleague.

Since Jean Bilton, who worked at Woodlands Hospital, in Darlington, died at the town’s St Teresa’s Hospice, her team have been hard at work showing their appreciation for the end-of-life care charity.

Michelle Allinson and Shirley Wright, who worked with Jean since 2000, raised £1,001.25 by organising regular coffee mornings at the hospital and donated the proceeds to the hospice in Jean’s memory.

Michelle said: “Shirley and I struck up a long-lasting friendship with Jean and her husband, Graham, when we started working together at Woodlands Hospital. She was just so full of fun, and she made the shifts fly over.

Darlington and Stockton Times: From left: Martyn Radcliffe, Marketing Manager for St Teresa’s Hospice; Shirley Wright, Hotel

“When we learned she was terminally ill last year, we talked about the hospice as an option for her when she felt she needed extra support. She asked if she could visit, and if we would go with her.

“On the day of our visit, we were met by a lovely nurse who showed us around explaining the care they offered, and Jean knew straight away it was a warm, caring environment that she would feel safe in.

“Jean had her first stay not too long after our visit, and we were amazed when she told us she was coming back home. She had built up her strength, which wasn’t surprising when you saw the lovely home-cooked food she was served each mealtime. She was so much stronger that we even managed to go to the pub together!

“Unfortunately, Jean’s health deteriorated, but the hospice was on hand again to manage her final hours with dignity and love.”

Martyn Radcliffe, Marketing Manager for St Teresa’s Hospice, said: “St Teresa’s is so grateful to people like Michelle and Shirley for raising funds for our work. It’s lovely way to remember someone and helps us to help more people.”

Michelle added: “The work the whole team does – not only caring for patients in their homes or in the hospice – and the support they provide family and friends is unmeasurable.

“We will be forever grateful for the care Jean received – not only from the nursing team, but also from the chefs, housekeeping, and support teams.”