July 2020 - East Cheshire Hospice

Nick Robinson – Patron of East Cheshire Hospice

BBC broadcaster Nick Robinson has been appointed a Patron of East Cheshire Hospice where his late father was a patient.

Nick, who was born and bred in Macclesfield, has enjoyed a distinguished career in radio and television, presenting Radio 4’s flagship Today programme since 2015.

His role will involve promoting the Hospice’s work, including hosting Meeting of Minds, a series of exclusive virtual events with high-profile guest speakers.

Nick Robinson, a new Patron of East Cheshire Hospice.

Nick said: “I grew up in Cheshire, my family still live in Cheshire and East Cheshire Hospice has a special place in my heart.

“It’s where my dad Robbie spent his last few days and I’ll never forget the care that he and our family received at that very difficult time.

“I’m particularly honoured to be asked to become a Hospice patron and would urge people to support this wonderful charity any way they can.”

Nick has worked in broadcasting for almost 35 years and was appointed deputy editor of Panorama in 1993, moving into political reporting in 1996.

He is the only journalist to have been political editor for both the BBC and ITV where he spent three years from 2002.

He assumed the same role on his return to the BBC, reporting on Prime Ministers Blair, Brown and Cameron during 10 years in the post.

Nick has made several documentaries on subjects ranging from Sir Alex Ferguson’s career – he is a Manchester United fan – to Brexit negotiations and immigration.

An accomplished author, his Election Notebook charted the lead up to the 2015 General Election and his successful fight with cancer, subsequent loss of voice and his own challenge to report on the election. His Twitter feed @bbcnickrobinson has 1m followers.

Hospice Chief Executive Karyn Johnston said: “We are honoured that Nick has agreed to become a Hospice patron. His face and voice are familiar on television and radio and he is hugely respected, deservedly winning many awards for his outstanding journalism.”

The Hospice’s other Patron is former Coronation Street actor Charlie Lawson.

* Nick Robinson’s guests in the Meeting of Minds series include Terry Waite CBE; Prof. Dame Nancy Rothwell, DBE, DL; Lord Jim O’Neill and Sir John Timpson CBE.

John Jones

Musician John Jones has spent more than 30 years cheering up patients playing songs on his accordion.

Lockdown has limited his fundraising appearances lately and allowed him to reflect on personal sadness after losing his wife June (76) in March.

She took great pride in her husband raising more than £300,000 for charity from his performances, including £89,000 for East Cheshire Hospice.

John, from Macclesfield, said: “I’ve had a lot of touching comments since June died and although she was quite shy she always supported me.

“It’s been frustrating during Covid because I can’t play at the Hospice, in the hospital corridor or in nursing homes where I entertained residents with their favourite songs.

“It’s a privilege and a pleasure to support the Hospice and Macclesfield District General Hospital and in particular their staff in ICU where June sadly passed away after receiving such wonderful and dedicated care.”

John (78) still has the antique accordion his father Edgar played, providing many happy childhood memories and inspiring him to learn to play the instrument.

John, with his charity donation box, plays his blue accordion sporting the badge of his beloved Manchester City for public appearances.

He received the MBE from Princess Anne at Buckingham Palace in 2012 for charitable work and three days later was sat behind the goal where Sergio Aguero scored to clinch the club’s long-awaited title triumph in 2012.

John and his wife June at Buckingham Palace when he received the MBE in 2012.

John, a retired structural engineer, worked in the bridges section for Manchester City Council.

He said: “I’m grateful to all my colleagues in Stockport Accordion Club who’ve supported the Hospice by performing an annual concert at Broken Cross Club. We were due to play our 20th anniversary concert in December.

“The event has wonderful support from the local community who look forward to it with great enthusiasm.

“I’ve made lots of friends with people who’ve enjoyed my music. I performed outside the Hospice a few weeks ago with singer Helen England, a performance which is on the Hospice Facebook page.”

John Jones and his beloved accordion.  

Firgus’ Summer Holiday

Firgus, the East Cheshire Hospice virtual Christmas tree, has enjoyed a summer holiday – unlike the rest of us!


His travels took him far and wide, raising an impressive £4,750 for the Hospice.


He started his month-long journey camping in Macclesfield Forest and also sent postcards from an Algarve beach, surfing in Australia, celeb spotting in LA and a catch up with Santa at the North Pole.


Hospice supporters denied their own travels by Covid-19 entered into the spirit of things with generous donations.


Firgus’ foreign adventure was the idea of Pete Chapman and wife Heather. Pete and friend Richard Raymond are co-founders of the  Christmas tree collection which has been running for 20 years in aid of the Hospice.

Pete Chapman (left) and Richard Raymond post Firgus’ holiday progress on the notice board in Prestbury.    


Richard said: “It was a little bit of fun and a way for our loyal Christmas tree supporters to help the Hospice at a time when its fundraising activities have been badly affected.


“We’d like to thank everyone who contributed and it won’t be long before we turn our attentions towards our usual Christmas collection.”


A picture competition themed on ‘What Your Christmas Tree Does in Summer?’ was won by the Ashworth family from Prestbury with their tree sporting sunglasses in a paddling pool.

The Ashworth family winning picture

Charity Shops Reopen

Charity shops run by East Cheshire Hospice are back in business with a new-style operation.


Their long-awaited return after being closed for more than three months has brought an amazing response from both donors and customers.

The Hospice is using its premises on Chestergate as a distribution centre and is the only shop where donations of clothes, bric a brac and electrical goods can be taken.

An advance booking system means items are donated in a safe and controlled manner.

Goods are quarantined for 72 hours before delivery to shops at Thornton Square and Handforth, both of which reopened for sales to the public early last week.

Strict social distancing guidelines are followed at both shops and only card payments accepted. Opening hours are reduced from 10 am to 4 pm and fitting rooms closed.

Stock will not be sold at the Chestergate shop until further notice.


Commercial manager Louise Delany said: “It’s good to be back and we’d like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding during Covid-19.  It’s been a tough few months but hopefully with the support of our customers, we can start clawing back the revenue lost when the shops were closed.

“We’ve got some great bargains in our shops and our donation system is working extremely well with donors cooperating brilliantly. We’re opening our Thornton Square shop on Sundays on a trial basis.”

The Hospice can only accept a maximum of four bags for each allocated slot and cannot receive books, CDs, DVDs, toys and soft toys.


Bookings via 01625 511997 can be made between 10 am and 3 pm and use of Gift Aid will further support the charity.

The same telephone number can be used to arrange collection of unwanted furniture. Michele Slack has started her new role as furniture co-ordinator/assistant manager.

She said: “We’re on the lookout for good quality furniture. We were desperate to get the shops up and running again and huge numbers have donated items since we began accepting them late last month. Many donors said they held on to stuff because they wanted to give it to the Hospice.”


Lindsay McDonald, Thornton Square assistant manager, said: “Trade has been booming since we opened our doors and customers were so happy to see us back. We’ve had a lot of new customers as well.”


A new Hospice shop is expected to open in Poynton in September.

Shop Volunteers Begin to Return

Volunteers are relieved to back in familiar surroundings helping at East Cheshire Hospice charity shops.

Retired hospital sister Margaret Turner has returned to the Chestergate shop which is distributing donated items.

Margaret, a volunteer for 16 years including a decade at the Chestergate shop, said: “I’ve missed the company and when I met our customers in the town centre they asked when we were opening up again.

“The first month of lockdown was okay and I managed to get a lot of things done but then it became frustrating, especially as my social life had stopped.

“I couldn’t go to see the Halle Orchestra, the theatre, or Macclesfield Ladies Probus club where I’m a member. I also go to a luncheon club in Wilmslow and all those activities ended.”

Margaret Turner, an East Cheshire Hospice volunteer for 16 years.

Valerie Roscoe, also from Macclesfield, is a volunteer at the Thornton Square shop where she helps out twice a week.

Valerie said: “It’s been terrible during lockdown to be honest and I struggled to get up in a morning.  It’s good to back and I missed chatting to all the customers who’re all very friendly.”

Part of her time during lockdown was spent providing home schooling for 12-year-old grandson Bobby.

Valerie Roscoe, volunteer at the Hospice shop at Thornton Square.

Staff involved in the retail operation on which the Hospice relies heavily for its income are also glad to be back serving customers again.

Regular Giving Fundraising Update

The new Regular Giving campaign launched by East Cheshire Hospice comes amid ongoing uncertainty over future fundraising events.

With traditional ways of raising income via mass gathering events currently unavailable, the Hospice has turned to other methods of attracting help from the public.

Individual Giving Fundraiser Beth England said: “Our Now More than Ever campaign was launched as a result of Covid-19 and received amazing immediate support. We hope to keep that momentum and this latest campaign ties in quite nicely as a follow on.

“We had a massive influx of one-off donations from people doing community-spirited  events, including online, but as lives return to normal we won’t have as many of those fundraising initiatives.

“We’ll put on events in a safe socially-distant environment when we can, but without those events  that’s why fundraising through Regular Giving is so important.”

Beth’s new role, which also includes securing help from legacies, was created in February when she moved from the Hospice’s community fundraising team.

“We’ve always had the option for people to sign up to Regular Giving, but there’s now more of a focus.

“Covid-19 put a spanner in the works for preparations, but now is the right time to re-launch because we need long-term consistent help.

“It gives us stability and a reliable income. It’s really important to know that money will be coming in every month as we plan for the future and figure out new ways of fundraising so we can keep our services going.”

Beth England, Individual Giving Fundraiser at East Cheshire Hospice.

East Cheshire Champions!

The search is on for Superheroes with the power to save the day and help East Cheshire Hospice!

The Hospice’s new marketing campaign, featuring a comic book theme, encourages the public to become East Cheshire Champions by making regular monthly payments.

Mail shots have been sent to 24,000 households and social media activity will also help promote the initiative.

The Regular Giving campaign has been planned since before Covid-19 struck.

However, it takes on even greater significance with the Hospice unable to stage mass-gathering fundraising events for the foreseeable future.

Events such as Splash Out were cancelled because of Covid-19.

Beth England, the Hospice’s Individual Giving Fundraiser, said: “The real Superheroes are members of the community – without their support our incredible nurses couldn’t do what they do.

“Regular gifts help us to plan for our future by providing a predictable income which is invaluable when we’re budgeting for services.

“This means that not only can we care for our patients and their families today, but also plan our services for the coming months and years.

“People can donate what they want – it could be anything from £3 to £25 a month.

“A £3 donation, or 10p a day, might not seem that much, but it really makes such a difference, especially if the community joins together.

“Just £7 a month could help pay for vital one-to-one nursing on our in-patient unit, delivering expert and compassionate care to our patients.

“Over a 12-month period your support could have a huge impact and help our nurses provide vital physical, emotional, social and psychological support to our patients and those close to them. This support is just not available anywhere else.”

The Hospice receives only 17 per cent of its funding from the government. The approximate breakdown of spending on every £1 income is –

* 54p directly on patient care for its inpatient unit and Hospice @Home.

*25p on fundraising activities organised by the Hospice and local community.

* 13p towards its Sunflower Wellbeing Centre and outpatient services.

* 8p on family support services, outreach and education.

Subscribers to the Regular Giving initiative will become an East Cheshire Champion and enjoy exclusive access to the Hospice.

They can contribute ideas and make suggestions to further improve the Hospice and receive regular updates, including how donations help and fund the charity.

* For more details visit eastcheshirehospice.org.uk/eastcheshirechampions


Leek United Fundraising Antics

Customers at the Macclesfield branch of Leek United Building Society were surprised when Veronica McNeil was strangely quiet one morning.

Veronica was taking part in a sponsored silence and raised £169 during a campaign by Leek United to help three charities, including East Cheshire Hospice.

The initiative by staff and customers across its 12 branches raised over £13,000, a total matched pound‐for-pound by the Society to just over £26,000. This therefore resulted in a donation of £8,681.12 to the Hospice as its share.

Veronica, from Macclesfield, said: “I can talk a lot and when my line manager jokingly asked whether I’d ever thought of a sponsored silence as my contribution I did ask him what he was trying to say.

“There’s no way I could have lasted a full day, so I did it for four hours. It was hard at times and I’m no good at charades which didn’t help.

“When customers said ‘hello’ I waved and Post‐it Notes came in useful.

“My colleagues Angela Ravenscroft, Debbie Swindley and Rukaya Sajid explained to customers what was happening and some generously made donations.”

A quiz, auction and endurance challenge were among other fundraising challenges in the group. Leek United is a regular supporter of the Hospice and makes donations through a savings scheme.

Home‐Start Staffordshire Moorlands and Treetops Hospice Care in Derbyshire were the other charities to receive donations from this latest initiative.

Leek United Building Society Branch Manager Veronica McNeil held a sponsored silence. 

Margaret Steps Out

Margaret Lillis saw her prayers answered when she raised £4,070 for East Cheshire Hospice where she is chaplain.

Her frustration at having to self-isolate during lockdown because she is 72 turned into a mission to help the Hospice.

Margaret’s sponsored walk over 18 consecutive days, using her age as a theme, received huge support as she smashed her £720 target.

Margaret, from Macclesfield, said: “I was gutted to be out of the Hospice at the end of March because of government guidelines and 72 seemed like a punishment.

“I wanted to do something positive so decided to walk 72,000 steps, averaging 4,000 steps a day.

“I walked round the places I know in Macclesfield, but this time there was a real point to my walking and I felt better because I was actually focussed on doing something for the Hospice.

“The good reason behind doing it really urged me on and I was staggered when the money poured in. Suddenly, 72 seemed like a gift rather than a curse!

“I want to publicly thank everyone, near and far, for responding in such an open-hearted way. This has been a hard time for people and money has been short and yet the generosity has been overwhelming.”

Margaret is now back at the Hospice offering the chaplaincy services she has provided for the last six years, the first two in a voluntary capacity.

She said: “It was hard when I was first told I couldn’t visit because I’m in there most days.

“I was concerned about not being able to see the patients and their families but the staff as well because it was a difficult time for them.

“I did write to them every day but obviously I wasn’t able to offer the same kind of support from a distance.

“Chaplaincy is about offering pastoral, spiritual and emotional support to people at the most difficult time of their lives…not only patients but their families as well.

“It was hard not being able to offer that support and be a listening ear for someone  when they were suffering the loss of their loved ones.

“Caring for our patients as well as their families is something we all take extremely seriously at East Cheshire Hospice and I’m grateful to be back there now.”

Chaplain Margaret Lillis who raised £4,070 for East Cheshire Hospice.