THE much-loved and long-standing chief executive of Willow Wood Hospice has announced she will retire next year.
Karen Houlston will stand down from her position in May 2024, during the hospice’s 25th anniversary year.
Karen first joined as a part-time bookkeeper and has been at the hospice, based in Ashton-under-Lyne, since January 2000.
With a finance background, she has fulfilled a number of roles at the hospice – including Admin Manager, Finance & Services Lead and Hospice Exec Manager and after completing a Master’s Degree at Lancaster University in ‘Hospice Leadership’ in October 2013, Karen then went on to become CEO.
Karen has overseen a number of exciting and prominent changes to hospice services, and is well known and highly regarded within GM Hospice and the local healthcare community.
Her legacy is one of care, compassion and innovation – some of the values which have helped to shape the hospice.
Karen has worked tirelessly to ensure the hospice provides high quality, multi-professional care, support and education across Tameside and Glossop.
Karen said: “It really has been an honour and a privilege to lead this amazing organisation and to have been instrumental in its development over the years, even during the difficult times of the Covid pandemic.
“I know there are financial challenges ahead but there is also an increasing need for our services and so much more we can do to support our community. But I also know the team here are in a great position to meet these goals. I truly believe Willow Wood Hospice will continue to go from strength to strength continuing to provide the special care for the people of Tameside & Glossop.
“I know it is still some time away but I want to say a huge thank you to everyone I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with at Willow Wood Hospice over the years, from the Board of Trustees who work tirelessly to govern the organisation to our dedicated staff and army of volunteers. I also want to thank our wonderful donors and fundraisers for their continuous support, I have met some incredibly brave and amazing people.
“I will always be a supporter of Willow Wood and hospice care and wish them every success in the future.”
Philip Millson, Chair and Trustee of Willow Wood Hospice, said: “Karen has devoted her professional career to the hospice from the very beginning and is well-respected amongst colleagues and health professionals.
“On behalf of the board of Trustees, I want to thank Karen for her dedication and hard work over the years, where she has striven to ensure that the care the hospice provides is second to none.
“Karen has led our wonderful hospice with compassion, strength and diligence and we look forward to celebrating her success in what will be a milestone anniversary for the hospice next year.
“Karen will be greatly missed, but I wish her a very happy and well-deserved retirement with our best wishes for the future.”
The hospice is now actively recruiting for a new CEO, whose appointment will be announced in due course.