A Belper woman and her hospital colleague have just returned from the holiday of a lifetime after their story of friendship captured hearts on ITV’s This Morning.
Jo Woolley and Marie Buckley, both health workers at Derby Teaching Hospitals, were whisked away on a luxury week in the Maldives after appearing on the programme.
Marie, a nurse from Heanor, contacted This Morning in July to tell producers she felt Jo needed a break following recovery from surgery to remove a tumour from her jaw.
Marie, 31, said: “I was watching the show when a feature came on saying ‘email us your 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.”
She added: “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.”
Although Jo’s tumour was benign, the surgery in 2015 meant removing her jaw, which was then rebuilt using bone from her leg and metal.
As a result, Jo had to have a tracheostomy that left her unable to talk or eat, and she spent a month being treated at the Royal Derby Hospital, with Marie rarely leaving her side.
Jo, 39, said: “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 means the world to me and my family.”
Nursing assistant Jo returned to work nine months after her surgery, although she still suffers pain.
After flying more than 5,000 miles to the paradise island in South Asia, the two friends slept in an ocean villa, enjoyed a yacht trip, and 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.”