Beard challenge to say a big thank-you

Phil McCurley, Phil Wood, Stephen Shepherd and Gary Johnson who grew beards for Billy in aid of HospiceCare North Northumberland.
Phil McCurley, Phil Wood, Stephen Shepherd and Gary Johnson who grew beards for Billy in aid of HospiceCare North Northumberland.

A beard challenge has led to raising cash for a hospice in memory of a beloved family member.

Billy Graham, from Widdrington, died on October 27 after a long battle with prostate cancer.

The 69-year-old, formerly of Fontburn, was diagnosed 12 years ago and managed his condition with support from the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

But, two years ago, Billy started to become more tired and have frequent episodes of pain and his GP suggested HospiceCare North Northumberland, based in Alnwick, could help.

Billy’s wife Jennifer wasn’t keen on the idea at first, but said: “HospiceCare were wonderful. We received four different ladies and each night one would come at a time to suit us, they would sit with Bill all night and when he wanted to talk, they listened. He felt safe and comforted. When he didn’t want to talk, they respected that too. The hospice was able to give the whole family respite care.”

In support of its work, Billy’s son-in-law Phil McCurley, a prison custody officer at HMP Northumberland, wanted to raise funds to say a huge thank-you to the hospice.

At the beginning of November, he challenged colleagues to Grow a Beard for Billy and the six-man team has so far raised £300, with another £500 donated from Billy’s funeral. The team has more pledges from colleagues and wants to break the £1,000 mark by Christmas.

But the beards won’t be staying and a big shave will take place on Christmas Eve.

To donate contact Phil on jpmccurley@icloud.com