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Willow Wood's new CEO maps out her first 100 days in post

The new CEO of Willow Wood says she wants to make sure the Hospice “continues to have a strong voice” within Greater Manchester and beyond.

As the Hospice based in Ashton-under-Lyne celebrates 25 years of providing compassionate care in May, the month also heralds the start of a new era.

Tracy Minshull officially takes over the reins from Karen Houlston, who is retiring having led the organisation for over 10 years and been part of the Hospice for almost as long as it has been open.

“I feel really humble, Willow Wood is an amazing place,” said Tracy. “It’s been particularly inspirational meeting with staff individually and seeing the difference each individual makes in their role.

“One thing they all say is how passionate they are about working at Willow Wood. I’m really proud and privileged to be the new CEO moving the Hospice forward into the future.”

Tracy, who most recently worked in local government as a commissioner, brings a wealth of experience of working in the health and social care sector for the past 25 years.

Explaining how this will aid her in the role, she said: “Primarily around partnerships so working with our system partners in Tameside and Glossop to really make sure Willow Wood is seen as the area’s centre of excellence for palliative and end-of-life care.

“I am hoping to further enhance the relationships with system partners and the local council, as we contribute so much to existing Tameside plans around supporting people in our local communities to living well at Home. I am also keen to ensure that we build new strategic relationships, enhancing our strategic presence moving us forward past 2024/25.”

Keen to hit the ground running, Tracy has already mapped out how she plans to spend her first 100 days in post. 

“The first month is focusing on internal communications so getting to meet everyone. My intention is to meet every member of staff individually to get to know what brought them to Willow Wood, what keeps them here and their skills and expertise.

“The second month will focus on our external partners and stakeholders, getting to know our Trustees better, getting a sense of the partners we already work with in the local community and the new partnerships we wish to forge as we move forward.

“The last month will be focused primarily on strategy and governance, looking at some of our processes and procedures and trying to make sure that we are as ready for the future as we can be.”

Tracy is also eager to ensure Willow Wood continues to be part of the conversation surrounding the need for a sustainable funding model for all hospices. 

“In Greater Manchester, we are very fortunate to have the GM Hospices Collaborative,” she said.

“Certainly, I want to be in that group of CEOs to really drive the national agenda as well. I want to work with Hospice UK to make sure Willow Wood’s voice is heard within that arena.

“We recognise that we are in really challenging financial times across the board – that being said, we still have to keep pushing for a sustainable funding model to move forward with.”

And Tracy won’t be afraid to get involved in every aspect of hospice life, with Willow Wood renowned for putting the fun into fundraising.

She added: “My daughter has put us in the ballot for next year’s London Marathon so we’re waiting to find out if we get a place!

“I’m keen to do anything which helps to raise the profile of the Hospice as well as raise vital funds. The thought of a skydive is somewhat terrifying but anything like that would be fine.” 

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