A brand new patient transport minibus dubbed ‘The Wendy Bus’ has been donated to St Cuthbert’s thanks to the amazing fundraising efforts of a local family.
Helen Corner and brother Daniel Lowden, from Chester le Street, and their family and friends have been fundraising for St Cuthbert’s Hospice since 2014 after their mam Wendy Charlton sadly passed away at the Hospice aged only 50. Wendy spent only a few hours at St Cuthbert’s but this time was incredibly precious to her and her loved ones.
The family had already raised a significant sum to help refurbish the café at St Cuthbert’s Hospice in 2017, a lasting testament to Wendy who had always dreamed of owning a café one day. After which they were looking for a new challenge and something else to raise funds for. To raise money for the much needed new minibus, family and friends took part in a host of activities including holding a Motown party, a football tournament, a 24 hour game-a-thon and completing the Three Peaks Challenge.
The new £42,000 bus is a lifeline to people in the local community with advanced illnesses who travel to the Hospice each week to access the Living Well Centre. For many of guests who attend each week it is something to look forward to and whilst at the Hospice they can socialise, take part in activities or access specialised services to manage symptoms or control pain.
Helen said, “The Wendy bus means the world to us and all who knew our Mam Wendy. It keeps her memory alive whilst providing so much happiness to others just like she did when she was here. We set ourselves the target of reaching the total in four years so to have reached it after just two was amazing.”
Wendy was admitted to the Hospice just eight hours before she died. Helen said: “The room was so much nicer than a hospital ward and being brave until the end, she sat in the chair on oxygen and when she became weaker we took her in her bed outside for the final time where she could hear the birds sing, look at the views and the sky.
“Hearing the birds singing made her smile – which is something I’ll treasure forever. Myself, my brother, our dad Shaun and my aunty Elaine could all be with her at the end.
“It means the world to us to know that my Mam was able to pass away in a place like St Cuthbert’s Hospice. While mam was in the Hospice’s care, and afterwards, the staff were so lovely. We were also offered bereavement counselling.
“To know places like St Cuthbert’s exist for support and excellent care can mean so much. It will always be a very special place, close to my families’ heart.”
Carol Murphy a guest at the Hospice’s Living Well Centre and who will be using the Wendy bus said, “I think it’s a marvellous achievement and such a help to local people who would otherwise struggle to get to the Hospice. The whole bus is fitted out to make it as easy and as comfortable as possible. Fundraising efforts like these really are something to celebrate, enjoy and are a marvellous example of local generosity.”
Kay Carrick, Senior Donor Development Fundraiser, said: “We are so overwhelmed by the amazing support from Helen and Daniel and their army of friends and family. The fact that they fundraised £42,000 in just two years is astonishing. The new bus is multifunctional and enables us to transport more guests safely and comfortably.”
“As well as a massive thank you to Helen and Daniel, we would like to say special thanks to Helen’s employer BGL Group, Cartwright Conversions, The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) and Sign Design (GB).”