End of an Era
John Fellowes, the first employee at Willow Wood and Dot Birchfield, the third employee, retire after a combined total of 38 years!
It’s the end of an era for both Willow Wood and for John Fellowes as he hangs up his fundraiser hat and retires after 20 years of dedication to the Hospice he helped to build.
Back in 1997 John became the first employee of Willow Wood – amazingly, even before it was built.The appeal committee had already raised a huge proportion of the £1.8million required, and John became both the driving force behind the scenes and the public face of Willow Wood.
By the time it he doors opened in 1999, John had been joined by the first matron, the late Barbara Robinson, and by Dot Birchfield.The first year running costs were quoted as being £750,000 – a long way from the £2.3million needed today.Dot soon moved over from her initial role in admin to find her niche in fundraising and between them they led the way in raising these ever growing sums year upon year.
John introduced many fundraising initiatives at the very start of his career, a number of which have stood the test of time and are still bringing in substantial amounts today.The wonderful Christmas dedication service Light Up A Life, sales of Christmas and
Easter beanies into schools, Wills Week and more are still part of our fundraising calendar.
Working closely with Dot, the two of them brought the Midnight Wander to Tameside, which in 2009 had 1,900 pink ladies who between them raised £165,000 on one night.Another huge success story was the annual car raffle – at its peak, 65,000 tickets were bought from within our community of Tameside and Glossop.
Dot has also decided it’s time to retire.She has certainly finished on a high note with her very last fundraising event which took place last week – the amazing Bubble Rush, which looks set to bring in many thousands.
Chairman Pat McCloskey paid tribute to them by saying “John & Dot will be forever associated with Willow Wood and its proud history and can enjoy their retirement in the knowledge that they have made a lasting contribution to the people of Tameside and Glossop.On behalf of everyone past and present who has used our services we want to say a big thank you and wish them a long, happy and healthy retirement.”