The Chief Executive of Acorns Children’s Hospice has paid a heartfelt tribute to former Worcester Warriors owner Cecil Duckworth CBE – the man whose generosity led to the opening of the charity’s children’s hospice in Worcester in 2005.
Mr Duckworth, who sadly passed away aged 83 on Sunday (15 November), became involved with Acorns in 1997 through a family friend whose child was using the charity’s Birmingham hospice.
The experience led Cecil to help Acorns open a children’s hospice in the Worcester area, serving children and families from across the Three Counties. Cecil helped Acorns identify land in Worcester and generously donated the first £1 million to an appeal to raise the funds needed to build it.
Acorns for the Three Counties, Acorns third hospice opened on the Bath Road, Worcester in 2005.
Toby Porter Acorns CEO, paid tribute to the businessman and philanthropist as one of the ‘great friends’ in the history of the charity. He said: “We are extremely proud of our long association with this remarkable person, who despite his achievements was someone of immense humility and gentleness.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that Cecil has personally helped to support hundreds of local children and their families with children’s hospice care since Acorns in Worcester first opened its doors.”
Following his close personal connection with Acorns through a family friend, Cecil saw first-hand the impact of the charity’s work and as the years passed, began conversations with Acorns then CEO John Overton about how a hospice could be opened in or around Worcester.
Toby continued: “Cecil understood on a deep and personal level the vital importance of services like Acorns and recognised immediately the growing need many families had in the local area.
“He always retained a keen interest in how Acorns was doing and like John Overton and David Strudley before me, I was fortunate as CEO to be able to count on his experience and advice.”
Cecil, who became a Patron of Acorns, helped establish the charity’s longstanding partnership with Worcester Warriors and along with his wife Beatrice became regular visitors to the hospice to keep in touch with the staff there.
Toby added: “I last spoke to Cecil in October, and he was delighted to know how Acorns had kept its doors open in Worcester for every day of the pandemic, and how we had brought on some new services to support local families, including the distribution of food and essentials led by our volunteers.
“We will always feel tremendous gratitude towards Cecil – a great friend of Acorns. On behalf of all of us at Acorns, our heartfelt condolences to his wife Beatrice and the whole of the Duckworth family.”
History timeline of Cecil Duckworth’s Involvement with Acorns Children’s Hospice
1997 The daughter of a family friend is referred to Acorns in Birmingham and Cecil’s connection with the charity begins. Cecil sees first-hand the impact of Acorns and begins conversations with the charity’s then CEO John Overton to set the wheels in motion for a children’s hospice in Worcester.
2001 Land on the Bath Road, Worcester is donated by June and Willie Sayce to Acorns. Cecil helps complete the land transfer, subsequently donating the first £1 million towards a major appeal to build the hospice before securing the commitment of friend Sir Michael Perry to Chair what would become a hugely successful fundraising appeal.
2004 Lord Lichfield lays the foundation stone for the hospice in a ceremony attended by Cecil and June Sayce.
2005 The Duchess of Gloucester officially opens the hospice to children and families.
2007 Worcester Warriors, Acorns charity partners, launch a brand-new kit for the season which includes the Acorns logo across the chest. The Warriors kit helps inspire Aston Villa, with Acorns famously adorning the football club’s shirts the following year.
2015 Acorns for the Three Counties, Worcester celebrates it’s 10th anniversary caring for children and families across Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire.
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Notes to editors:
Due to the sensitive nature of Acorns care services it refrains from using the words ‘terminal’ or ‘terminally ill’ in its press releases and public communications when describing the children who use Acorns and the conditions that they have. Instead, Acorns uses the words ‘life limited’, ‘life limiting’, or ‘life threatening’. Acorns kindly requests that you respect this in your communications when referring to Acorns Children’s Hospice. Acorns children have a lot of living to do. Thank you.
- It costs £27,000 every day to run Acorns services providing care for children and support for their families. The charity relies heavily on donations to fund the majority of its activities.
- To find out more about Acorns, please visit www.acorns.org.uk
- To find out how Acorns has responded to the current coronavirus pandemic, please visit acorns.org.uk/coronavirus