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Gillian’s story

Gillian Holbrook was a dedicated Alice House volunteer and fundraiser who sadly and unexpectedly died in November 2021. She is hugely missed by all of her friends at the Hospice.

Gillian became involved with Alice House in 2016 after retiring from a Senior Management role in the Civil Service.

She initially volunteered in the Holistic Wellbeing Centre, working with day patients on creative projects including painting and flower arranging. Gillian settled in quickly and her therapeutic sessions were popular with staff and patients alike. Gillian also took the time to get to know patients and helped serve refreshments. Later, Gillian would take the role of managing patient feedback, ensuring patients had everything they needed during their time at Alice House.

Gillian’s role expanded into fundraising where she helped with a variety of jobs including administration, money counting, organising resources, sourcing sponsorship, selling advertising and working at events.  Gillian’s organisational skills, creativity and sense of humour made her a perfect fit in the Fundraising Team and she made great friendships from day one.  These qualities also made her a huge asset to the Hospice and she played a key role across all areas of fundraising.

Gillian Holbrook

In 2020, Gillian’s regular support was compromised by Lockdown, when the Hospice had to run with skeleton staff. Gillian stayed in contact and together with her husband Phil, himself a volunteer and supporter, they found new ways to continue their fundraising; these included a variety of walks and quiz events.

Once restrictions eased, Gillian was welcomed back to Alice House, resuming something close to her usual duties. She made her event comeback at the 2021 Beer Festival, where she and Phil managed the day’s fundraising activities.

At Christmas, Gillian volunteered on the Trees of Remembrance, which had fundraising stalls in both Tesco and Middleton Grange Shopping Centre.  She was looking forward to spending Christmas with her daughter Sarah and Sarah’s partner Robbie in Edinburgh, who were preparing to welcome Gillian’s first grandchild.

On the day of what became her final shift on the trees, Gillian and Phil celebrated a win on the Hospice Lottery. 

Gillian with husband Phil at the Trees of Remembrance

On 26 November 2021, after closing the stall as usual and then collecting her winnings with Phil, she dropped her husband off for his Friday night choir practice.  Phil became concerned later that evening when he was unable to contact Gillian by phone.  It is believed that Gillian felt unwell when driving home by herself, and being the practical person that she was, immediately parked her car, collected her valuables, left the car and locked it behind her.  As she made her way to the pavement, she collapsed and despite the efforts of passers-by and paramedics, who arrived quickly, Gillian died at the scene.  It was later discovered that her death was caused by a previously undiagnosed heart condition.

Gillian’s friends from the Hospice attended her funeral, which included songs from some of her favourite artists, Wet Wet Wet, Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler and Bruce Springsteen.

The newly re-named Gillian Holbrook Fundraising Office now bears a plaque in tribute to Gillian, as a reminder of the role she played in our lives and that of the Hospice. Gillian’s warmth, kindness, humour and friendship will never be forgotten.

Phil has remained in close contact with us and under the #TeamHolbrook banner, he now honours Gillian’s memory, as he continues his fundraising in aid of Alice House Hospice.

Phil & Gillian

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  • © Alice House Hospice 2022

Hartlepool Hospice Ltd (known locally as Alice House Hospice and formerly Hartlepool & District Hospice)
Registered office: Alice House, Wells Avenue, Hartlepool, TS24 9DA.