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Meet ‘Tigger’: Telling the Story Behind ellenor’s Top Storyteller, Basia Wilson

When ellenor’s PR manager arrives for an interview about her life and career, she doesn’t simply walk into the room.

She bounces.

Basia – whose positivity, work rate, and unbridled levels of energy and enthusiasm have, over the years, earned her the nickname ‘Tigger’ – has been a staple of ellenor’s Marketing and Communications department for close to six years.

Her role? To manage and shape public perceptions: around ellenor, the work the hospice does in the Kent and Bexley communities, and – on a broader level – how people view and engage with hospice care at large. It’s to build relationships with stakeholders, manage crises, and promote a positive image of ellenor – all while shining a light on the tangible, crucial role the charity plays in the lives of patients and families facing life-limiting illnesses.

That’s the long version.

Ask Basia what she does, however, and her answer – in true media-friendly fashion – is a much simpler sound bite: “storytelling”.

Basia’s constantly on the lookout for stories that showcase ellenor’s contributions to the community – and they’re rarely in short supply. Every week, Basia sources, interviews, then writes articles profiling the plights of patients and their families – humanising them, and giving them a voice and a platform to speak through.

Basia also produces exclusive interviews with ellenor’s staff and volunteers to dig deeper into their own backgrounds, careers, personalities – and the motivations that drive them. As well as meeting, and telling the stories of, ellenor’s supporters  – like firefighter Gemma, Twilight Walkers Tracey and Steve, or Jake, who took on the Goggins Challenge for his Grandma – to recognise their invaluable fundraising efforts.

Often, these stories are full of love and life – concepts that, unfortunately, the public tends not to associate with hospice care.

There’s such a misconception about hospice care. That it’s a place where people come to die. But these stereotypes miss the mark, because they overlook the sheer breadth of services ellenor offers. And that we support people with conditions, such as Parkinson’s Disease or Motor Neurone Disease, that they might live with for decades.

- Basia, ellenor's PR Manager

Basia also acknowledges that, as ellenor’s PR Manager, changing those perceptions is a big part of her job.

“By talking about our services, it makes our community understand that, if they should ever end up in a situation where they require care, we will be there to support them. We also need to raise £7 million a year for our services to be delivered – and unless we talk about who we are, and tell people about what we do, they don’t realise we’re a charity – and that most of that money needs to come from the community’s generosity.”

Before ellenor, Basia worked for theatres and marketed for some of the world’s biggest brands: including Panasonic, Unilever, and Ferrero Rocher. She has both the creative nous – and the strategic brain to apply it.

But what other skills does a person need to thrive in PR – and, in particular, at a hospice charity such as ellenor?

“Communication skills,” Basia begins, listing them off on her fingers. “Empathy. And strong relationships: with the media, with local councils, with our teams working throughout the Kent and Bexley communities, and with our corporate partners.”

You also need, Basia explains, the ability to gauge a situation – a knack particularly important when you’re working with patients and families. And, since you’re working with the media – pitching stories to them; trying todrum up interest in, and coverage of, ellenor’s services – you also need determination.


“A lot of the time, you get pushback,” Basia explains. “You might think you have the most amazing story to share. But one journalist said to me ‘you’re one of 250 charities that calls me every day. You’ve got less than 50 seconds to sell to me why ellenor is important.’

In PR, when you get knocked back, you have to be the kind of person who picks themselves up – and can immediately think of another idea to pitch.

-Basia, ellenor's PR Manager

A quick look at Basia’s family background demonstrates why she has that special quality – that resilience – so crucial to a successful career in PR.

“My parents came to England as immigrants from Poland,” Basia explains. “My father started his life as an engineer, and ended up as the Dean of Surrey University – with Freedom of the City of London. He worked extremely hard and, as a family of four children, we inherited that work ethic.

“We were brought up believing we could do anything; that we could adapt to any situation. And we were taught to always, always be grateful for what we have. My parents showed us what great resilience looks like – that if something happens, you pick yourself up. And you carry on.”

It’s a trait seemingly tailor-made for a career in hospice care – especially one in which, every day, Basia interviews patients, and their families, living with life-limiting illness. These conversations – which can take place not long after a patient has died – are often soaked with raw emotion, as the interviewees grapple with recent grief, loss, and bereavement.

Even after more than half a decade of hosting them, these conversations’ emotional gravity is never lost on mother-of-two Basia – especially when they involve children.

“What hits hardest for me, as a parent, is interviewing families whose children have been diagnosed with a life-limiting condition. And what really strikes me is how positive most of them are. Their lives have been turned around almost instantly – yet they’re always so happy and smiley. 

“It’s alright to write about it, to interview people – but I’m not sure how I’d be, as a parent, looking after a child who has suddenly become seriously unwell.

“I think they have tremendous courage – they really do.”

These interviews can be hard – for all involved. What helps, though? That the families want their stories to be told.

“Even when a patient has just died, their loved ones want to share their stories. I find that just incredible. And they all say the same thing: that ellenor has been wonderful, and made them feel so welcome, and that they want to help raise awareness and money for ellenor.”

With six years of service at ellenor nearly tallied up, it begs the question – what keeps Basia going? And what keeps her here?

“I love the creative side of storytelling. I love speaking to families. And I’m in absolute awe of the people I work with here – they do such an incredible job. Until you’ve worked for a charity, you never really understand how important – and how difficult – a role they play in the community.

“But also, every day brings new challenges; brings new people, experiencing new situations in different ways. So there are always stories to be told – and I want to be here to tell them.

“Somebody once said to me,” Basia adds, grinning, “that ‘you’re a bit like a dog with a bone; you never let things go!’

She laughs, loudly, then gets serious again. “It’s one of the things I love about being in PR. If you tell me I can’t do it? I love that – for me, that’s the greatest challenge.

“And you know what? I’ll go and do it!”