Case Studies Willow Burn Hospice

Originally set up in 1989 by two local nurses who recognised the need for a hospice for adult patients requiring palliative and end of life care, Willow Burn Hospice is located in a ward of an old derelict hospital on a 10 acre site near Lanchester in County Durham.  With a Day Hospice and 4 in-patient bedrooms, the Hospice currently serves 500 patients and their carers every year, in addition to delivering a 'Hospice at Home' service.  The dedicated team of staff at Willow Burn Hospice care deeply about treasuring life and provide palliative and end of life care for patients needing symptom control, pain management and respite care. The emphasis is on a holistic approach with not only the physical but also the spiritual, psychosocial and emotional needs of patients being addressed.

After 23 years in an old, out of date facility, a brand new hospice is being built on the same site at a cost of £5.7m.  The majority of the capital cost of the build is being raised by the Hospice and in November 2011 Sir Tom Cowie was one of the first benefactors to pledge £500,000 over five years to help fund the project. This was a great boost to Willow Burn's early fundraising efforts as it showed Sir Tom's faith in the project and his trust in the people involved to deliver the much needed new hospice facility for the residents of Derwentside and County Durham. In August 2014, Lady Cowie was proud to open the Sir Tom Cowie Day Hospice, so named, in recognition of his support. This new facility offers much needed day respite and care for patients and carers alike.

The new Hospice will be four times the size of the existing building but with just 25% increased utility costs as green technologies and efficient building materials and methods will be employed such as timber panel construction to substantially reduce the construction time needed to build the facility. It will be built in a style to compliment the local countryside and all building materials will come from sustainable sources and be sourced locally wherever possible. 

The new building will be able to support double the number of patients and carers in an architect-designed purpose-built facility comprising the Sir Tom Cowie Day Hospice, an In-patient Wing with six en suite in-patient bedrooms, and a Wellbeing Centre with five complementary therapy rooms, an exercise studio, and a family room with en-suite facilities.  Outside, there will be accessible landscaped gardens with far reaching views over the surrounding rural landscape for patients and their families to use and enjoy during their stay.

In addition to the excellent specialist medical care currently provided by highly qualified nursing and medical staff, the new Hospice will be able to provide a range of complimentary therapies for patients including aromatherapy, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, movement and exercise classes as well as counselling, occupational therapy and physiotherapy for the benefit of patients. 

An additional gift of 15 acres of rural land at Allensford near Consett, was given to Willow Burn Hospice by Sir Tom Cowie in order to plant Willow Burn Wood. 9,600 trees will be planted in the design of a willow tree, which is the Willow Burn Hospice logo, with mown paths for access. A variety of native trees will be planted including English Oak, Bird Cherry, Cherry and Rowan and each tree will be available to sponsor for £50 to raise funds for the building of the new Hospice (please visit for more details). Once completed Willow Burn Wood will become a local amenity for recreational and educational use. 

Other fundraising initiatives to raise the remainder of the £5.7m needed include a Payroll Giving Scheme, Gifts in Kind by trades people wishing to support the new building project, a Club 1000 whereby 1000 people gift £1000 each and become ambassadors for the project, and a Care Agency to be set up to provide local in-home care.

If you are inspired by this project and interested in supporting the building of the new Willow Burn Hospice, please follow this link or contact: Helen Mills on 01207 529224 or