25ft gift kicks-off Christmas at Chorley children’s hospice

Picture shows, from left: Derian House staff Jason Moseley, Gareth Elliott and Richard Duckett, United Utilities’ Michael Bullivant (front in orange), and Sam Entwistle and Andrew Holroyd, from SG&J Entwistle.

Christmas has arrived for children at a Chorley hospice after foresters delivered them a 25ft socially-distanced gift.

Staff at United Utilities donated and installed a huge Christmas tree outside Derian House Children’s Hospice.

It’s the second year the water company has given a tree to the hospice, but this year was slightly different.

Usually, the company donates Christmas trees to several local schools, churches and good causes in Lancashire from its plantation at Delph every year.

But woodland officer Michael Bullivant said, this year, demand had dropped because many organisations were trying to avoid attracting large crowds due to coronavirus.

“It was lovely to be able to do this for Derian House still. It means so much to the children and it means a lot to us. We had to take care with social distancing, but with the help of time and machinery donated by our contractors SG and J Entwistle everything went to plan.

"When we turned up with the tree there was a young boy in a wheelchair wriggling with excitement. The staff said he was excited to see the tree, but even more excited to see the tractors, diggers and chainsaw in action,” he said.

Caroline Taylor, Communications and Marketing Manager at Derian House Children’s Hospice, said: “We can’t thank United Utilities enough for this wonderfully generous gift. The tree is sitting proudly at the end of our driveway to offer a festive welcome into the hospice.

"We do everything in our power to make sure Christmas is special for our children and young people at Derian House, because our ethos is to make sure families make happy memories together in the time they have. Thanks so much for United Utilities for helping us to make this Christmas really magical for our families.”

As well as the donation to Derian House, another hospice on the receiving end of a free United Utilities tree was St Joseph’s in Thornton, Liverpool, who got a 25ft tree for their annual Light up a Life ceremony.

The ceremony, which this year will take place online, is an important part of the hospice’s annual fund-raising calendar where donations and dedications are exchanged as part of a service attended by both the Bishop and Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside.