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How Hotels are Helping Newcastle's Dragonfy Cancer Trust by Encouraging Guests to Leave a Pound on Your Pillow

Polaroids over an image of a hotel bed
March 2023
Reading time 3 Minutes

To increase awareness and improve support, Newcastle's The Dragonfly Cancer Trust have launched their Pound On Your Pillow initiative. CEO Jane Dennison is urging hotel guests to pop a pound in an envelope on their pillow to give a little but help a lot

Each year around 530 young people in the UK lose their battle with cancer and many more spend much of their youth in hospital. The  Dragonfly  Cancer Trust works with families, hospitals and hospices across the UK to support palliative cancer patients from birth to 25. They focus on memory making with their loved ones by providing cash gifts, keepsakes and creative therapy, working collaboratively with every young person's oncology unit in the country and collaborating with hospices across the UK.

‘The patients will have been told by a medical team that there’s no further treatment available; the families will have been told to concentrate on making memories together – and that’s when we get involved,’ explains Jane. ‘We’ll get a referral from one of their social workers, a member of their medical team or their GP, and they’ll fill out a form telling us a little bit about that young person and what it is they’re wanting to do. It might be spending time with loved ones for example, but you must bear in mind that the people we’re working with are very poorly. I wish we had longer to work with young patients.

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‘At this point in their life they may have ticked off a lot of the things on their bucket list, and what we work on is the more personal things they want to do to be remembered by. We provide this service in different forms. That might be giving a cash gift, which is quite empowering for that young person – it gives them some control when a lot has been taken away from them. Or we can arrange hand-crafting gifts or fingerprint jewellery for example, if that person wants to leave something behind to be remembered by. We also work on memory boxes and activity kits that we send out to hospitals throughout the UK.’

'This is a great way to do something and give back and I’d love other hotels in the region to get behind our initiative. It would mean a lot for us to increase income, increase awareness and reach more young patients'

The Trust’s new Pound On Your Pillow initiative involves asking hotel guests to pop a pound in an envelope on their pillow after their hotel stay. The first hotel to sign up was the DoubleTree by Hilton next to Newcastle International Airport,  and during the festive period they raised more than £2,000 for the Trust.

‘I think it’s a tried and tested thing but it’s something that I thought wouldn’t take up a lot of staff time,’ says Jane. ‘For me, this was an ideal opportunity to work with people to raise income and make them feel involved in the Trust. The hotel that we’re working with are an absolute dream. They’re really involved, interested in what we do, and passionate about supporting us.

‘We’re a small charity and we’re still struggling from the pandemic. We’ve got a tough year ahead so any support we can get from other hotels to help raise the profile of the Trust is great! This is a great way to do something and give back and I’d love other hotels in the region to get behind our initiative. It would mean a lot for us to increase income, increase awareness and reach more young patients.’

The Trust recently held their 10th annual ball, which also helps to raise revenue and awareness. ‘There are always people who’ve never heard of the Trust and they then help spread the word, but it’s also a good way to celebrate our supporters,’ Jane adds. ‘It’s a great way to get them together under one roof to say thank you. It’s a lovely event, something that we’ve done for years and we’ve attracted some fabulous supporters.’

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What Jane finds most rewarding is hearing how the Trust has helped families. ‘There was a young person recently who wanted a PlayStation 5 but it’s something their family couldn’t afford, so we managed to track one down and that gift was sponsored by someone,’ she says. ‘It was incredible, and the family told us that we were able to give this person the Christmas they truly deserve. That meant the world to them. It’s about enabling things that families might not be able to do on their own, and knowing that we’re part of being able to provide a bit of light in this tunnel of darkness that a family is going through.

‘We want to support every young palliative patient with limited time – to make sure that every young person can access our services and get the support they deserve at that difficult time in their lives.’

To help, donate or to find out more and get involved visit


Organise your own fundraising event, help distribute collection tins and dragonfly pin badges or make the Trust your nominated charity for national events like the Great North Run.

You can volunteer remotely from home or help at one of their collections or awareness stalls.

Collect Free Donations Online
Collect donations online for the Trust each time you search the internet or shop online at thousands of retailers.

The team at Fundraise & Recycle manage clothing collections and containers across the North East and Cumbria. All clothing donations are either resold or recycled, ensuring no unnecessary waste goes to landfill.

Leave a Gift in Your Will
A gift in your will could make a huge difference for the Trust.

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