FUNDRAISING heroes have been honoured for their vital contributions in helping to support a much-loved hospice during the Covid-19 pandemic.

From lockdown challenges to mini marathons, head shaves to zip wiring, volunteers, friends, staff and supporters were all recognised for their dedication, commitment and crucial fundraising efforts at the first St Teresa’s Hospice virtual Annual General Meeting.

Addressing the audience via Zoom, St Teresa’s Hospice honorary chair of trustees Dr Harry Byrne said: “This time last year we met face-to-face and it was business as usual but within months of that everything changed. No one foresaw the pandemic, and its effects on the hospice have been dramatic to say the least.

“Most of St Teresa’s income is derived from public donations and we realised at the outset that our fundraising activities were going to be severely curtailed or cancelled entirely, with our income generation team having to come up with novel and inventive ways of working to address the challenge.

“We launched an emergency appeal early on in the crisis and the response by local businesses, groups and individuals has been absolutely amazing and a real testament to the value placed on our services and our place in the hearts of the community – this  support has never been so important or gratefully received.”

Dr Byrne also praised the dedication and commitment of the hospice team and volunteers during the pandemic.

A video showcasing fundraisers, honoured for their efforts, was played to delegates during the meeting.

It highlighted the achievements of young supporters including Eliza Skitt, who completed a mini marathon in her garden raising over £2,200; Liam Evans who collected £350 with a football dribbling challenge; seven-year-old Cian Crang, who smashed his £700 target to run seven miles by raising £5,371.50; and Alex Brown who took up running raising £500.

Excellent supporter awards were received by runners Ben Bourne, Craig Hayward, Lyn Vine, Honorata Devlin, Michelle Boshier, Craig Stephens and Darlington College staff who raised a combined total of £9,668.13.

Certificates were presented to Durham University BioSciences Society and Gillian Campling for staging a ‘Bark Off’ virtual dog walk, Muriel Joy for a sponsored head shave, Sheila Dawson for completing a daredevil zip wire, Grant McTaggart for undertaking a Yakman challenge, Hurworth Covid-19 Support Group for donating uniform bags and hearts, Blackwell Grange Golf Club Ladies’ Section for their fundraising during the pandemic, and Maureen Hogg for promoting the hospice through the local media.

Hospice staff who received awards in recognition of their tremendous work and dedication throughout the pandemic included Lin Vaughan, Helen Wrigley and Deborah Robinson.

The video, along with another highlighting the practical changes the hospice has had to implement as a result of the pandemic, can be viewed at www.darlingtonhospice.org.uk.

St Teresa’s Hospice chief executive Jane Bradshaw added: “I’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to all of the recipients of our supporters’ awards, we have never needed you more than we have this year.

“We always knew we had good support from the community but it has been absolutely humbling and really fantastic the way that people have come forward and the way in which staff teams have continued in their work for the hospice.”

St Teresa’s Hospice needs £3m a year to provide in-patient and community care, as well as family support and bereavement counselling, in Darlington, South Durham and North Yorkshire.

Donations to the emergence appeal can be made at www.justgiving.com/campaign/hugtostts.