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Darlington Family’s Gift in Memory of Mum

Last week we were overjoyed to receive a gift from a Darlington resident in memory of his beloved partner, which will help realise our charity’s dream of improving our care.

Darren and Daniel, with a framed photo of Shelley, present a cheque for £10,000 to Hospice Director Jane Bradshaw and Ian Saye, of Walter Thompson, responsible for constructing the new unit

Michelle Parker (Shelly to her friends) worked for EE in Darlington for over 15 years. When was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour in July 2009, she and her partner Darren Watson were hugely impressed by the quality of the care and support they received from the MacMillan Nurses Specialist Oncology Unit and Professor Phil Kane of James Cook Hospital. The family was so appreciative that it was Shelly’s wish that they do all they could to give something back to the team.

Although she was given the all clear in August 2010, the cancer returned just six weeks later, and Shelly died on 8 December that year, aged 42.

Despite mourning the loss of their beloved partner and mum, Darren and his son Daniel vowed to fulfil her wish of helping the people who had helped them. They set up the Michelle Parker Charity, and over the next four years they successfully raised more than £40,000 in Shelly’s memory.

Overwhelmed by the response from the people of Darlington, Darren and Daniel decided it would be fitting that some of the money should be used to help the people of the town.

Having lived in and operated a business in Darlington for years, Darren regularly drives past St Teresa’s Hospice and has watched our new in patient unit take shape. Learning that the Hospice planned to begin fundraising in 2016 to outfit the new wing, Darren decided that he, Daniel and Shelly would help to fully furnish one of the unit’s rooms with a major donation of £10,000.

Darren and Daniel said: “We’re so proud of what we’ve accomplished, and it’s comforting knowing how happy this would make Shelly. Throughout our fundraising the people of Darlington were amazing, so it’s only right that some of the money we’ve raised stays in Darlington at such an important local charity as St Teresa’s Hospice.

“On behalf of the Michelle Parker Charity, thank you to everyone for all the help over the last four years. So many people have been a part of this, and it would be impossible to name you all, but I’d like to particularly thank Rockcliffe Hall Hotel and 1st Stop Party Shop for everything they’ve done over the last four years, as well as all the businesses in Darlington’s Grange Road, and all those in Teesside which have supported us so brilliantly.

“As always, I can never thank Professor Phil Kane and his team at the MacMillan Nurses Specialist Oncology Unit enough for everything they did for my family.”