Newcastle University Business School

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Students help hospice with 'Hug a Tree' initiative

Students from the MSc International Marketing programme have been putting their marketing theory into practice by supporting Willow Burn Hospice’s ‘Sponsor a Tree’ initiative.

Willow Burn Hospice is a small local resource in Derwentside, County Durham, which offers non-curative care to adults with life limiting illnesses.

After being gifted 15 acres of land from Sir Tom Cowie in 2012, the Hospice planted 10,000 saplings which they hope will transform the area into a place for people to enjoy and remember family members. After discussing the initiative with the University at a Faculty away day, the Hospice turned to the students for inspiration in helping them to obtain sponsors and improve their marketing communications.

Students worked in teams in order to prepare a communications campaign to help increase awareness of the scheme amongst the public. Teams were then required to present their ideas back to the Hospice before a winning team was selected.

Overall, the Trust was inspired by the student’s ideas and impressed by their teamwork, initiative and creativity.

Helen Mills, Chief Executive of Willow Burn commented:

 “It is not something that will be left in a file somewhere, we will take your proposals forward. You helped to transform how we are getting our organisation forward. Thank you”.

The experience of working on a real life project, within the not-for-profit sector also proved to be invaluable to the students.

Briana Tucker, a member of the winning team stated:

“I thought it was one of the best things I have done since I have been doing my Masters…One thing that we learned was that you had to be realistic because it is a charity, so although there were a lot of ideas that we had and were out there, we had to bring them back to earth”.

For more information about Willow Burn Hospice and how to sponsor a tree, visit


published on: 18 May 2016