For 10 weeks this summer, 115 sculptures of the much-loved Aardman character Shaun the Sheep, formed a free, public, art trail throughout Newcastle, attracting thousands of visitors from the region and further afield. The trail was organised by and in aid of St Oswald’s Hospice.

Now, just a month after the trail’s Grand Finale Auction, at which 40 of the sheep were sold to the highest bidders, we are delighted to announce that the net total raised by the trail was £310,000.

The auction raised £195,400 with the balance of the money raised through sponsorship, merchandise and app sales, ticketed events, raffles and community and schools fundraising. All the funds will go towards the hospice’s running costs and allow its team to support the children, adults and their families who rely on its services.

Jane Hogan, Head of Fundraising at St Oswald’s Hospice said:

“The reaction to the sculptures, from all who have seen them, has been wonderful and they really caught the imagination of our community. This trail was truly a team effort, with businesses, schools, artist, and people from across the region and beyond, coming together to make it such a resounding success.”

Among the lots purchased at auction and now settling into their forever homes are Sweetie, now on display at Deal Direct Blinds’ Gateshead showroom and Shaunshine, which can now be admired by visitors to the café at Ouseburn Farm, Byker.

The Wrong Trousers is now part of the team at The Feed Warehouse, Consett, while The Magpie Cr’ewe’sader’ is proving popular with customers at Bell Truck and Van at Team Valley, Gateshead.

Many others were bought by private individuals throughout the North East, keen to support the hospice.

Jane added:

“We’ve been humbled by the support we have received, we’re only small team and we simply couldn’t have brought the flock to Newcastle without the help of all those who played a part. Our thanks go out to our trail headline partner; Newcastle Council, all our sponsors and partners, creative producers Wild in Art and of course, Aardman for trusting us with their fantastic character, Shaun the Sheep.

Charlie Langhorne, Managing Director and Co-founder, Wild in Art said:

“Shaun on the Tyne created a feel-good factor right across the city, bringing artists, young people, communities and businesses together to showcase Newcastle’s creativity. I am delighted that the trail will leave a lasting legacy through the funds raised for St Oswald’s Hospice. Thank you to everyone who has been involved in achieving such an incredible result.”

Rachael Peacock, Senior Brand Manager, Aardman commented:

“We are delighted to hear that Shaun on the Tyne has generated such a baa-rilliant fundraising total for St Oswald’s and the adults and children who benefit from their vital services. We’ve been blown away with the response to the trail and feel honoured that Shaun the Sheep has been able to play a part in raising awareness for the important work St Oswald’s do for families in the North East.”

We would like to say a huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone who joined in with a summer of Shaun spotting and helped our trail to make a difference for the adults and children who rely on the services of St Oswald’s Hospice.

If you’d like to keep up to date with their work and other ways you could get involved, please follow St Oswald’s Hospice on FacebookInstagram and X (Twitter) to see how your support of the trail will make a difference or sign up to receive our newsletter here.

 

 

Trail favourite Wor Shaun has found his forever home with financial services company True Potential, and the occasion was marked with a baa-rilliant fun-filled event at the company’s head office in Newcastle.

The popular sculpture, designed by Newcastle United’s fan group Wor Flags and sponsored by Newcastle United Football Club, attracted the attention of thousands as it stood proudly outside of the Magpies home stadium, St. James’ Park throughout summer 2023.

Following the Shaun the Sheep on the Tyne art trail, this local legend caused a stir in the auction room, with the lucky bidders securing this one of a kind Shaun for a cool £11,000 – the highest seller of the night!

The homecoming party, held last Friday in partnership with the Newcastle United Foundation and Wor Flags, saw many employees and their families flocking to the company’s premises to meet the new addition and get that all important Shaun selfie!

Visitors were able to join in with a range of activities including football coaching from the Newcastle United Foundation and the chance to win a pair of match day tickets by designing their very own flag.

Refreshments were available too with a selection of delicious cakes, sweets and bakes as well as some bespoke Shaun the Sheep cupcakes.

Daniel Harrison, CEO of True Potential, welcomed the event, saying:

“It was clear from the reaction on social media that the public love Wor Shaun so we decided to host this event and create a fantastic opportunity to bring our community together in support of two remarkable organisations, St Oswald’s Hospice and the Newcastle United Foundation.”

Sat comfortably alongside Wor Shaun is Landmarks, a beautifully decorated Elmer sculpture painted by Powder Butterfly, which formed part of the Hospice’s 2019 Great North Elmer art trail. Featuring a the Tyne’s iconic bridges and other Newcastle landmarks, Daniel felt it was fitting to welcome a second, locally inspired art work in the form of Wor Shaun.

Reflecting on the pair of sculptures, Daniel added, “It’s great to have the set and to celebrate all that Newcastle has to offer. The ‘Wor Flags’ Shaun the Sheep has captured the city’s imagination and symbolises the strong sporting and community spirit that makes Newcastle so unique.”

The event wrapped up in the early evening with many commenting on how fantastic it was to meet Wor Shaun and celebrate his arrival. We hope he enjoys his new home! We would like to say a big thank you to True Potential for supporting St Oswald’s Hospice in this special way.

Bidders weren’t sheepish on auction night, raising over £195,000 for St Oswald’s Hospice.

Keen to get their hands on their very own Shaun the Sheep sculpture to treasure forever, over 300 people registered to bid either in person or online at the auction event, held at Newcastle Civic Centre on Tuesday evening.

Following the hugely successful ‘Farewell Weekend’, 37 of the uniquely designed Shaun sculptures were up for grabs on the night and on display for prospective bidders to have a final look. There was also 3 additional lots, including 2 small Shaun sculptures and one small Elmer, designed and released especially for auction night.

Ahead of the event, local artist and creator of Dotty About Ewe, Jess Turner, was very excited to be at her very first auction.

Jess shared, “It’s been so rewarding to be part of the Shaun on the Tyne art trail. It’s my first ever one and I was over the moon when I learned that my design had been selected to feature on one of these iconic sculptures. My Dad was cared for at St Oswald’s Hospice a few years ago and it means a lot to be doing something for this amazing place.”

Host Justin Lockwood opening up proceedings and welcomed St Oswald’s Hospice Chief Executive Steph Edusei to the stage.

Steph said, “I’ve been amazed by all of the work that has gone into this trail both behind the scenes and throughout the 10 week run. To see the involvement and excitement across our local communities has been fantastic.”

Steph added, “My thanks go to our headline sponsor, Newcastle City Council, for their support and their generosity in making the Civic Centre available for use as our Trail HQ and to host both our Farewell to the Flock weekend and this evening’s Auction.

I’d also like to extend a huge thank you to Northumbrian Water, our Learning Programme Sponsor, enabling hundreds of school children across the region to access and enjoy the trail through adopting and decorating their very own small Shaun sculpture. Community partner, NorthStandard have also allowed some of the sculptures to be retained by the communities who created them, meaning some might make an appearance again in the city soon.”

Before heading straight into the auction, Justin invited Dianne Hughes to the stage to share about her connection with St Oswald’s Hospice and the impact it has had on her and husband Bob’s life. In 2022, Bob was admitted to the Hospice for end of life care and sadly died in August of that year.

Dianne reflected, “Every person we came into contact with at the Hospice spent time getting know both Bob and I on a personal basis. The entire care team helped us to focus on making the best of the time we had left together.”

A short video was played on screen, featuring Bob, who shared some of his experience of Hospice Care, including the wonderful times getting to know other patients and enjoying each other’s company at the various events held at St Oswald’s Hospice such as themed meal times and delicious afternoon teas with friends and family.

Dianne added, “St Oswald’s Hospice supported me just as much as they did Bob. We have to dig deep and help make sure this place is around for the years to come.”

Heartfelt applause filled the Banqueting Hall as Justin once again took to the stage, complimenting Dianne on her bravery to share her story and encouraging bidders to “make sure our Shaun’s sell for as much as possible.”

With that, it was on with the main event, as Auctioneer Fred Wryley-Birch from Newcastle based firm Anderson & Garland, took to the stage and introduced the first of the evening’s 40 lots. The atmosphere was electric and the competition was fierce but fun as bids flew in for our fabulous flock.

Lot number 29, Art is Mischief proved as popular in the room as it has been on the trail as bids came in at a rapid pace. You could hear a pin drop as Fred expertly led the winning bidder to £10,000 and the room erupted. Designed by Anon and sponsored by the Hancock Gallery, this sculpture has been a firm favourite among trail goers, with over 600 votes on the Shaun app!

Lot 35, Wor Shaun designed by Wor Flags and sponsored by Newcastle United Football Club, made an entrance that all Toon Army fans would be proud of. With two giant flags waved by the Wor Flags team and the anthem ‘Local Hero’ being played out, Wor Shaun was sold for our highest bid of the night, a baa-rilliant £11,000.

Not far behind was our second Toon Army inspired small Shaun, Toon Barmy. Designed by local artist David Maguire, this little black and white legend sold for an amazing £8,800.

The evening was wrapped up with the grand total announced at £195,400.

Steph finished, “I’m so thrilled that we have achieved this fantastic sum. Shaun has been much loved and enjoyed by so many people and the hugely positive impact for the Hospice and our local communities will be long lasting. I’m immensely proud of our teams who have worked tirelessly and with such enthusiasm to deliver this Shaun on the Tyne Art Trail.”

Last, but by no means least, the winner of our Super Shaun Raffle was drawn, with the lucky winner getting to take home their very own mini ‘classic’ Shaun the Sheep. Congratulations to the lucky person who has ticket number 009541.

A big thank you to our wonderful host Justin Lockwood and the legend that is Fred Wryley-Birch, our auctioneer from Anderson & Garland, our speaker Dianne Hughes for sharing her personal story of hospice care with us, Paul Innes Magic who warmed up the guests, the team at Newcastle Civic Centre for hosting us and The Hancock Gallery for hosting our preview event, Big Purple for event production, and the Quicksilver crew who made sure our Shauns were safely packed away and ready to be delivered to their new families.

Check out some of our photos from the night below or view our full event gallery here.

“The staff are amazing, the whole experience – it just means so much to have that available.”

St Oswald’s Hospice has been providing monthly, short breaks for 12-year-old Michael Abraham for five years, and parents, Karen and Brian, can’t praise the Children and Young Adults Service enough.

Mum, Karen, explained:

“St Oswald’s Hospice is just an amazing place. It’s somewhere Michael can come and he can have a sleepover and we know he gets the best of care and he has so much fun. He loves the whole experience.”

The Children and Young Adults Service provides fun-filled, short breaks and a home-from-home environment to babies, children and young adults with life-limiting conditions – all supported by the wonderful team of staff and volunteers.

Michael, who turns 13 the beginning of October, has touched hearts among many at the hospice with his smiley outlook.

Matron, Jocelyn Thompson, who manages the service said:

“Despite it being a very tough life for him, Michael is an adorable boy, full of smiles.”

Jocelyn went on to explain that Michael has a rare life-limiting condition that impacts every aspect of his life.

“This condition means that Michael uses a wheelchair, has learning difficulties and suffers from multiple complex seizures, leading to many sleepless nights. Michael can’t talk in the same way we do or eat and so is fed through a feeding tube in his tummy. He needs constant supervision to keep him safe and 24-7 care to ensure his needs are met.”

Mum and Dad have no worries about Michael’s needs being met at St Oswald’s Hospice, as Brian pointed out:

“It’s somewhere we can bring him to and we know when we leave him, he’s going to have the best of care. You don’t have to worry or anything. He’s in more than capable hands of looking after him.”

Michael has monthly, three-night stays at St Oswald’s Hospice, where he receives one-to-one nursing care. He sometimes suffers from seizures and can be very unwell. However, a lot of the time, Michael is his smiley, happy self and enjoys his short break.

Karen added:

“He’s done so many things, he’s been surfing, he goes on day trips and he loves music therapy. There’s so many things the Hospice do with him and he just loves everything. The staff are amazing, the whole experience – it just means so much to have that available.”

Karen is also keen to point out that it’s not just Michael who benefits from the care at St Oswald’s Hospice.

“It’s our only time, aside from school, that we have a break and know that he’s somewhere safe. Because Michael’s condition is really complicated and a lot of people won’t have him, he needs somewhere like the hospice where he gets the best of care and he’s safe so we don’t have to worry.”

Brian agreed:

“St Oswald’s Hospice is great. We’re really thankful he has the opportunity to come here. But it’s not just the looking after Michael, it’s the support they give to us as parents as well. They’re just a phone call away if we ever need them. They’re involved with everything and have even support with some of the meetings we’ve had with Michael’s school. They’ve been there and helped us with the decisions that we’ve wanted to happen. To have their backing is great.”

Angela Egdell, Director of Care Services, said:

“Everything we do is aimed at keeping children and young people, like Michael, at the centre of the care that’s provided.”

St Oswald’s Hospice is all about quality time for everyone. That’s why Children’s Activities Coordinator, Lauren Archibald, is part of the team and responsible for bringing the fun and making special memories for the children.

Lauren said:

“We love doing what we do for the children and seeing them smile. The little moments created every day and everything we do at the hospice means the world to the families and children who access our service.”

If you’d like to support the important work of St Oswald’s Hospice for people like Michael, you can make a donation here.

“The word ‘hospice’ was a bit off-putting. I thought it was going to be really mournful, but my feelings changed the second I arrived.” – David

David, 54, has been under the care of St Oswald’s Hospice Lymphoedema Service since September 2021 after unexpectedly developing the condition.

David tells us that the care he received finally gave him some “self-belief and hope” that things could get better.

David said:

“Before I came to see St Oswald’s Hospice – no one seemed to know what to do.

“I was getting really down about my situation. I had a leg that was leaking all the time and no one could stop it. I’d seen some complex nurses and doctors at different hospitals – but nobody seemed to know what to do.

“I would be attending three or four wound clinics a week – with a soaking wet leg that was leading to skin issues.

“The district nurses talked about sending me to St Oswald’s Hospice. At first, the word ‘hospice’ was a bit off-putting. I thought it was going to be really mournful, but my feelings changed the second I arrived here.

“I was instantly put at ease and made to feel like part of the family. Immediately things started to get better for me.”

To help him with his pain and manage any other symptoms, David was referred to the Lymphoedema Rapid Response Clinic (LRRC), which takes place within the outpatient department.

The service was set up for patients who are already known to the Lymphoedema Service to be seen quicker if their condition becomes more serious.

David continued:

“After using the Lymphoedema service, I had some self-belief and hope that I’d finally get a solution. Everybody at St Oswald’s Hospice went above and beyond to make me feel better and tried all sorts of methods – until I finally got a solution and my leg started to improve.

“I’m out of bandages now and I’ve got a skincare regime which I’m administrating myself at home with help from my family. I still wear medical compression stockings – but I don’t mind, as this finally allows me to get my trousers on!

“Before, I was fully bandaged from my toe to my groin area. This led to other complications and a sore on my foot – which the team also looked at – even though it wasn’t technically part of their remit.

“I’ve got a review appointment coming up in April and I’m hoping to return to work soon. I can honestly say I never thought I would get to this point.”

Jill Lisle, Senior Sister, Day Services at St Oswald’s Hospice, told us:

“When David was referred to our service, he was diagnosed with moderate complicated secondary Lymphoedema to both legs, which was made worse with ulcerations and significant leakage.

“During David’s treatment with our LRRC, we have successfully stopped the leakage to his legs, resolved the ulceration and healed a significant pressure area to the underside of his great toe.

“David is no longer in long-term bandaging and is now self-managing his Lymphoedema in compression garments. This has significantly improved David’s independence in managing hisLymphoedema and overall wellbeing.”

Kath Clark, Matron, Day Services at St Oswald’s Hospice, said:

“The LRRC has been very successful, allowing patients on our caseload who are experiencing issues with their Lymphoedema to be seen promptly and their symptoms managed quickly.

“The feedback from our patients, staff and volunteers has been very positive. The LRRC is now embedded into our service and we are delighted that there has been a significant reduction in the need for us to cancel and rearrange non-urgent patients allowing us to accommodate those with urgent needs.”

We’d like to say a big thank you to David for sharing his story and also to our wonderful Lymphoedema Service.

If you’d like to support the important work of St Oswald’s Hospice for people like David, please visit our Trail Champion page for ways to get involved, or make a donation here.

“Being at St Oswald’s Hospice did impact Dad’s mental health positively. There’s just a positivity that you can’t help but be swept along by.” – Anne, Doug’s daughter.

After a spell in hospital, Doug Melbourne, 88, who had been diagnosed with a type of blood cancer, was transferred to St Oswald’s Hospice in the summer of 2022. His family rushed to his bedside.

Then, one morning he woke up and asked for his Weetabix!

Doug’s daughter, Anne, said:

“You tend to have this perception that hospices are overwhelmingly sad places where people go to die. Often, of course, that is the case. But I just wanted to make a tribute to the staff for the compassion and care and also their imagination – for the things they came up with to make things special and create memories for the family.”

Doug’s other daughter, Sue, told us:

“Dad was very much a family man. He was always ready to help and nothing was too much trouble for his family. My niece says Grandad was the most selfless person she has ever known.”

Born and raised in Cambridge, but moving around the country with his work for British Rail, Doug brought up his family in York. In later years, with one daughter living in Newcastle and the other in London, Doug travelled back and forth from York to Gosforth weekly to be a hands-on Grandad for Grandson, Tom.

However, Doug developed Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a type of blood cancer, and as his condition got worse, the time came for him to move to Gosforth permanently so daughter, Sue, and grandson, Tom, could be on hand to help him.

That was when Doug first came to St Oswald’s Hospice as an outpatient.

Sue told us:

“Dad had done very well with regular blood transfusions, but as the condition progresses you become more prone to infections. You need more blood transfusions, more frequently and get weaker. So he was coming into St Oswald’s Hospice on a weekly or fortnightly basis for blood transfusions at the Focus on Living Centre.”

Anne continued:

“In March 2022, Dad had a fall at home. He was fine but needed constant care – but my sister got Covid and I was having radiotherapy following surgery for breast cancer, so neither of us were available to look after him. Dr Owen Lever, who was caring for dad at St Oswald’s Hospice, suggested that dad stay in the Hospice as an Inpatient where he gave him a full health assessment so that when he went home, it was with a health care support package to meet his needs.”

In June 2022, things took a turn for the worse for Doug. Following another fall at home he ended up in hospital.

“He was very poorly and we didn’t think he was going to make it,” Sue said. “He had multiple infections and he contracted Covid as well.”

Once Covid-free, Doug was transferred back to St Oswald’s Hospice for end of life care – and his family all came to spend time with him:

“We were all gathered around and the first few days, Sue was there all the time. Then, when I came up from London, we were taking it in turns 24/7 to be with him,” Anne explained.

Jo Nichol, ward Sister on the Adult Inpatient Unit, told us:

“When Doug got here, it was like he’d given up. He was flat, sleepy and disengaged. We, and his family, thought he was here for end of life care but after a couple of days he started picking up.”

Daughter, Anne, remembered:

“He just woke up one morning and asked for some Weetabix and it was onwards and upwards from there. It really was quite transformational – but slowly and surely he improved.”

Jo Nichol agrees that Doug’s transformation was remarkable:

“Doug did fantastic. He was with us for six weeks and he was a changed man by the time he left. He was joking and had a good rapport with the staff.”

Jo continued:

“His improvement was down to a combination of good care – our nursing staff are so attentive – getting back on top of his physical symptoms and giving him his confidence back. But more than that, he seemed to get his belief in living back. He enjoyed events that we organised and having quality time with his family. The events are having a positive impact on a lot of patients’ wellbeing.”

Anne and Sue couldn’t agree more, As Anne said:

“Dad was a typical of men of his generation who would dismiss the whole concept of mental health – the generation that lived through the war. But, being at St Oswald’s Hospice did impact Dad’s mental health positively. Because it’s very much a holistic approach – health, and general wellbeing as well – for the patient and the family. There’s just a positivity that you can’t help but be swept along by.”

Sue added:

The St Oswald’s Hospice team always had time for us. So, there’s an uplift of mental health across the generations – because if you have a grandchild that’s having a wobble, or a daughter who’s having a wobble, the fact that you’re being given these positive, supportive messages that come from a place of compassion and understanding and support, helps the whole family.”

“It’s a rollercoaster going through something like this – for the whole family. And being able to spend time with each other at the Hospice was everything.”

– Anne, Doug’s daughter

Anne and Sue described all the ways the team helped them spend time with Doug and bring a smile to his face. From taking over the family room for Doug to watch his much-loved youngest grandson graduate via live stream, to waving a flag and drinking wine to celebrate the Lionesses’ victory in the Euros. The family were also allowed to bring pets in for visits, spend time in the garden, and Sue had access to a keyboard in the room to play for him. Plus, a dvd player was provided for Doug to watch some favourite films.

Sadly, Doug died in December 2022 but the family are happy to have been able to create some special moments at the Hospice.

Anne commented:

“It’s a rollercoaster going through something like this – for the whole family. And being able to spend time with each other at the Hospice was everything.

“From the warm welcome at reception, to the endless patience and care from the nursing, support staff and volunteers, to the expertise and guidance of the doctors and consultants – you really do provide outstanding support.”

One of our auxiliary nurses recently said: “It makes my heart happy to see our families happy.”

Her words really do encapsulate the spirit of St Oswald’s Hospice as we strive to provide “Quality time for everyone” – and we’re so happy we were able to do that for Doug and his family.

If you’d like to support the important work of St Oswald’s Hospice for families like Doug’s, please visit our Trail Champion page for ways to get involved, or make a donation here.

“Damien and I truly believe that if we didn’t have that time, I don’t think we’d have been able to come to terms with Ollie’s death.” – Riona (Ollie’s mum).

During a routine pregnancy scan, mum-to-be, Riona Grant, and her husband, Damien, were told their unborn son had a severe heart condition, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, and would need major surgery within days of his birth.

So as soon as Ollie was born, the family, who are from Kilcoo, a village in Northern Ireland, flew to England where their newborn baby underwent open heart surgery at Birmingham Children’s Hospital at seven days old.

Riona explained:

“Ollie had a very rocky road those first few months and, barring a few odd days, he never made it out of hospital. Then, at 12 weeks, he suffered a massive stroke while in Birmingham.”

Ollie was left with mobility issues and complex medical conditions, including cerebral palsy and epilepsy. He had his second open heart surgery at six months old, which resulted in additional complications.

Riona said:

“Ollie’s heart function significantly deteriorated and he was put on the urgent heart transplant list. But three months later – thanks to a lot of medical intervention and support from the doctors and nurses in Birmingham and Belfast – his heart function regained and he was able to be taken off the list.”

Despite such a challenging start to his life, Ollie was a joy to be around and, according to his mum, lit up every room he entered:

“He had such a beautiful energy about him. He was so happy, and although he was non-verbal, he communicated in his own way. Everybody who met Ollie instantly fell in love with him. He loved music and being outside.”

On 30th October 2022 – a few weeks after Ollie’s fourth birthday, the family travelled to the North East of England where Ollie would have his third open heart surgery at Newcastle Freeman Hospital. The family stayed in the hospital’s family accommodation.

Sadly, Ollie suffered postop complications once more and he was again listed on the urgent transplant list.

At the start of 2023, Ollie was still in the Freeman Hospital when his condition severely deteriorated and a CT scan showed he had suffered a catastrophic stroke.

Ollie died on 13th January surrounded by his mum, dad, sisters (five-year-old Aria and one-year-old Lottie), grandparents Helen and Barry, and uncle and auntie, Brian and Lauren.

For the family, their devastation was compounded by the fact they were away from their home, family and friends.

The four-year-old’s body was moved to the hospital morgue where the family were told they would need to book an appointment to visit him.

Desperate to remain by Ollie’s side, they asked if there was any other option. The hospital suggested St Oswald’s Hospice.

Riona recalled:

“The hospital phoned the hospice and the response was life-changing for us. They said they could take Ollie and put him in a cold cot where we could visit him, whenever we liked, and that the whole family could stay in the family accommodation.

“The team were wonderful. They washed and dressed Ollie and they brought the family food, which meant we could stay with him throughout.”

“Ollie was an inspiration. He taught us some serious life lessons and he’s made us better people. We talk about him every day. He was just perfect.”

– Riona, Ollie’s mum

Having that family time with Ollie in a calm and relaxed environment meant a huge amount to Riona and her close-knit family.

She said:

“We’ve been away for three months and so we knew, once we got back to Ireland, we would be bombarded by all our family and friends who would want to see us. So to have that one-to-one time with our son was invaluable.

“Ollie had been attached to so many pipes, tubes and machinery from October until he passed away, and so those few days, where you could just see him completely free, meant so much.

“Damien and I truly believe that if we didn’t have that time, I don’t think we’d have been able to come to terms with Ollie’s death.”

Our team helped find a funeral director for the family and when Ollie’s body was moved to the Royal Victoria Infirmary Hospital for post-mortem checks, the family stayed at the hospice for the next five days before the whole family flew home to Northern Ireland.

Riona added:

“The hospice took all the really horrible phone calls and did all the difficult stuff. They made it as streamlined as possible and less heart-breaking for us.”

Mum, Riona, can’t thank the St Oswald’s Hospice team enough for what they did for Ollie and the family:

“I don’t think I’ll ever find enough words to thank them. They’ll always have a place in our hearts. We’re forever grateful for the support that they showed us and Ollie. They’re like superheroes.”

Holly Smith, Acting Matron at our Children and Young Adult’s Unit, added:

“The death of a child is devastating for any family but to be away from home makes it even more difficult. We got to know the Grants over the week, especially Ollie’s sisters, and they are the most beautiful family. To be able to step in and help with arrangements while letting them have treasured time with Ollie, was incredibly important to all the team.”

Since returning to Northern Ireland, the Grant family have held several events to help build awareness for organ donations and raise funds to be split between the four charities that impacted Ollie and the family’s lives – including St Oswald’s Hospice.

Riona explained:

“We’ve held two charity events, including Ollie’s Big Breakfast at a local restaurant where people came and had food and there was a DJ playing music and a raffle.

“We’ve also designed and sold T-shirts advertising the importance of organ donation, and our local football team wore special Ollie jerseys to warm up for the final they played this summer.”

Although the family has experienced unimaginable tragedy, Riona is always reminded of the enormous impact Ollie made during his short life.

She concluded:

“Ollie was an inspiration. He taught us some serious life lessons and he’s made us better people. We talk about him every day. He was just perfect.”

If you’d like to support the important work of St Oswald’s Hospice for families like Ollie’s, please visit our Trail Champion page for ways to get involved, or make a donation here.

“We can just focus on spending quality time together and creating those special moments.”

St Oswald’s Hospice provides monthly short breaks for Sophie, 14, who has severe cerebral palsy and epilepsy.

Her dad, Stephen, recognises the specialist medical care his daughter receives, combined with the opportunity to try a range of exciting activities during these breaks, bring huge benefits for him and his daughter.

Stephen explained:

“Sophie really enjoys her time at St Oswald’s Hospice. She gets excited about going thanks to all the activities and all the fun she can have.

“For example, it’s a challenge to take Sophie swimming but when we go to the hydrotherapy pool with St Oswald’s Hospice, all the logistics are taken care of. I can have a good time, relax and spend time with my daughter without all of the worries.

“Another highlight last year was Sophie’s grandparents and cousins came to the hospice and we had a special Christmas day together. We got a lovely picture of all of us that I’ll always treasure.”

He added:

“Sophie and I are looking forward to going surfing soon, which is something that I never imagined we’d be able to do.”

Sophie lives with her mum, which makes Stephen and Sophie’s time together at the Hospice extra-special. He appreciates the support that Sophie’s mum gets and how our team make him feel so welcome.

Stephen added:

“I know I can be with my daughter and do the things I can’t do by myself. We can just focus on spending quality time together and creating those special moments.”

That’s why Stephen recently completed a 100-mile bike ride to show his appreciation and raise funds for the Hospice.

“At the beginning of this year, I had an idea that I wanted to do some fundraising and to challenge myself in a fitness way. Then an email came through about the ‘100 miler’ for St Oswald’s Hospice.

“I wanted to do this challenge to give back a little bit. To have Sophie there in my mind, all the way, as a motivation, helped push me through.

“I’m happy to get involved in any fundraising and charity events for St Oswald’s Hospice because it’s a great cause – and I can’t thank them enough for what they do for Sophie, her mum and me.”

Stephen Pape fundraising for St Oswald's Hospice

If you’d like to support the important work of St Oswald’s Hospice with local families like Stephen and Sophie, please visit our Trail Champion page for ways to get involved, or make a donation here.

“Willow is the most resilient child I’ve ever met – she can be so poorly on the inside and still look so normal and happy.”

Willow, 4, was diagnosed with PIK3CA Related Overgrowth Syndrome when she was just four months old – a condition that’s so rare most people have to Google it.

For Willow, this means that her vascular and lymphatic systems are affected. So, to help improve Willow’s condition, she has been receiving support from our specialist Lymphoedema Service at St Oswald’s Hospice since she was a baby.

Kath Clark, Matron of Day Services said:

“Willow was the smallest baby our team had ever treated for Lymphoedema. We’ve loved being able to help her and her family over the past four years and we will continue to support her throughout her life – so she’s truly part of our St Oswald’s family.”

Willow’s Lymphoedema affects both legs and causes swelling, so as she’s grown doing simple things like climbing stairs or walking can be difficult.

According to Mum, Karen and Dad, Kris, Willow just “gets on with it”, but for their family it’s been quite the adjustment.

Karen explained:

“Willow’s condition started at birth. She has to be treated for her Lymphoedema, which is worst in her left leg, and also chronic pain – and has even had part of her bowel removed due to her vascular complications.”

Karen continued:

“I know it sounds awful, but sometimes I forget what it’s like to be a normal family. Hospital and hospice appointments are literally our week-to-week now.

“Because of the daily medication Willow is on, she has a lowered immune system, so she’s constantly at risk of getting poorly. You have to be on your guard 24/7 thinking about her.

“My son, Bentley who’s 13, has adapted well to our situation, considering everything. Willow obviously gets a lot of the attention – so it must be hard for him.

“Obviously, I’d want all of my children to be healthy, but I wouldn’t change Willow for the world – as a family we got picked to have her this way.

“Even though it’s difficult, we have found a way to cope – but without the support from St Oswald’s Hospice we would have struggled a lot more.”

Offering a comforting space…

When a consultant recommended that Willow attend St Oswald’s Hospice for Lymphoedema treatment, Karen was hesitant as she thought it was just an “end of life clinic”.

But now, she is in no doubt that the help she’s received from the Lymphoedema Service has changed Willow’s life.

She said:

“The treatment we receive from the Lymphoedema team is probably the most vital. It has such a big impact on Willow – and our family.

“If we hadn’t been referred to the team when she was a baby, I can’t imagine where we’d be at now. I genuinely think she would have such a poor quality of life.”

As it was an overwhelming time for Karen and her family, Kath Clark, our Matron of Day Services and Jill Lisle, our Senior Sister in Day Services, arranged training sessions so that Karen could carry out Willow’s bandaging of her legs at home.

Karen said:

“Kath and Jill taught me how to do the compression wrapping of Willow’s legs. They even contacted the company who make the adult compression stockings and they agreed to make some smaller stockings for Willow.

“They’re so cute! The company said it was the first time they’d had to make ones that small. Each time she gets a new set from the Hospice, I put them away as a keepsake.”

The warmest of welcomes at St Oswald’s Hospice…

You might expect Willow to feel nervous about a visit to St Oswald’s Hospice, but Karen laughed with a cheeky smile and said – “it’s quite the opposite!”

“If Willow comes to see Kath and Jill, she gets really excited! It would be a completely different story if I said we’re going to hospital, she would have a meltdown.”

When Willow visits the Lymphoedema Service now to have her legs assessed – Karen said she is always greeted with “a lovely welcome”.

She added:

“The lady at reception always runs up to Willow and has sweets ready – it’s lovely.

“Then she’s straight over to the fish tank with her hot chocolate. We always feel totally at ease when coming for her appointments.

“During Willow’s visits, the team will inspect her legs and give general advice to me. Willow suffers from cellulitis as part of her condition too, so the team check that it’s under control.

“They even wrote a letter to Willow’s GP, asking that she be prescribed penicillin daily – which has helped to keep her cellulitis at bay.”

Karen is rightly very proud of Willow and the progress she makes – despite everything she goes through on a daily basis.

She added:

“Willow is the most resilient child I’ve ever met – she can be so poorly on the inside and still look so normal and happy.”

A message to others…

Karen has a message for other families who may be worried about coming to St Oswald’s Hospice for Lymphoedema treatment:

“Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about the Lymphoedema Service – it’s totally transformed our lives.

“I know without St Oswald’s Hospice, especially the support we’ve received from Kath and Jill – we wouldn’t be where we are now. We owe them so much.”

If you’d like to support the important work of St Oswald’s Hospice with local families like Willow, please visit our Trail Champion page for ways to get involved, or make a donation here.

Our trail sponsor, Hancock gallery, has gone all out to welcome their sponsored Shaun to their venue – they have even created a special room dedicated to all things Shaun on the Tyne!

Their ‘Shaun experience room’ aims to make art accessible for all and invites trail-goers to discover the fun and mischief of art. Located on the first floor of the gallery, the Hancock Gallery team invite you to step inside and learn about learn about mischievous artists who have made history, get stuck into activities and create your own masterpieces, chill out in the video corner or get a selfie with Shaun and Bitzer.

And for the grown ups, you can wander around the gallery’s three floors filled with art from renowned and emerging artists, shop in the book store or simply watch on while the little ones get creative.

Design your own Shaun!

Hancock Gallery is also running a competition for visitors to design their very own Shaun on the Tyne sculpture – the winner of the competition will win the opportunity to have their design printed on to a little Shaun, which will be exhibited in the gallery – as well as a bag of art goodies!

So when you are searching for Shauns, why not pop in and discover a world of mischief and creativity, as well as ticking another Shaun off your list!

Hancock Gallery is open Tuesday – Saturday 10AM – 5PM and it is located on Jesmond Road West, a very short walk from either Haymarket or Jesmond Metro station. There is on-street metered parking directly outside the gallery or in the Civic Centre car park. Entry is free. There is stair access only to the Shaun Experience room and the gallery ask that children are supervised at all times. Find out more on the Hancock Gallery website.

Location:

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