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Royal Derby Hospital best friends sent on jet setting trip by TV show

Published 27/10/2017

Thousands of people joined two health workers from Derby Teaching Hospitals on their trip of a lifetime after they were chosen to appear on television. 

Best friends Jo Woolley and Marie Buckley are used to caring for others at the Royal Derby Hospital but were given a well-earned break this month as they were whisked away to the Maldives for a week in the sun. 

ITV's This Morning decided to treat the pair to a luxurious holiday after Marie, who is a Stoma Care Specialist Nurse, told the show she felt Assistant Practitioner Joanne deserved a break following her recovery from major surgery.

Jo had a benign tumour, known as an ameloblastoma, removed in July 2015, along with her lower jaw, with Derby Teaching Hospitals Maxillofacial Surgeon David Laugharne using both bone grafted from her leg and metal work to rebuild her jaw.

As a result, Jo, from Belper, had to have a tracheostomy that left her unable to talk or eat, and she spent the next month being treated at the Royal Derby Hospital, with best mate Marie, who she met at the hospital in 2009, rarely leaving her side. 

She said: “I had no symptoms, other than a loose tooth, so I was really shocked when I found out. It was really scary being on the other side of things but Marie just made a really awful time bearable. It wasn’t just me though, she supported my family so much whilst it was all going on, which made life so much easier. She knows that she means the world to me and my family. Mr Laugharne is my hero. I could just go to him for anything, and all of the staff in Ward 307, where I stayed, were all amazing. From start to finish, there wasn’t anything I came across that wasn’t just fantastic.”

Jo managed to return to work just nine months after her surgery, although she still suffers pain in her jaw and leg and meets Mr Laugharne for an appointment at the Royal Derby Hospital every six months.

Marie, from Heanor, contacted This Morning in July and was amazed when the show brought her the news four weeks later that it had been arranged for her and Jo to go on holiday, with a trip to the Maldives eventually being sorted out after plans to fly to Jamaica had to be cancelled due to bad weather. 

She said: “I was watching the show when a feature came on that said ‘email us your friendship story if you think your friend deserves a break’. I thought it would be for a spa weekend; I never thought it’d be anything like this! I just wanted Jo to do something selfish for once and to see that bad things don’t always happen. I didn’t think it was possible but it’s brought us even closer together.”

After flying more than 5,000 miles around the world to the paradise isle in South Asia, the two friends stopped in a luxurious ocean villa and enjoyed a trip on a private yacht, while they also went parasailing for the first time. 

Jo said: “We were completely spoilt from the minute we got there until the minute we left. We did nothing but laugh all week. It was just a once in a lifetime trip and is the best holiday I’ve ever been on. It was really strange seeing myself on TV. I never knew I sounded so Derbyshire!”  

Last Modified 27/10/2017