December 2020 - East Cheshire Hospice

Review of the Year – 2020

Face shields, fundraising and a special farewell marked a year that East Cheshire Hospice will never forget.

End-of-life care became much harder because of Covid-19 which prevented the Hospice from holding a single mass-participation event in 2020.

Nurses showed amazing character and spirit – their brave efforts honoured during the emotional  Clap for Carers tributes each Thursday.

The community came together during lockdown, raising much-needed funds with all ages showing incredible acts of kindness and dedication.

Tytherington School pupil Finley Foote raised an incredible £5,515 running near his Bollington home, while another youngster George Bailey climbed 108,000 steps.

Many were inspired by fundraiser Carl Lamptey who received messages of support from musicians and sports stars.

Face shields flooded into the Hospice, along with other PPE equipment. Students and staff at Fallibroome Academy produced visors, while volunteer Shelagh Julian put her sewing skills to good use making masks.

Musician John Jones has spent more than 30 years cheering up patients playing his accordion. His performances have raised more than £300,000 for charity, including £89,000 for the Hospice.

John lost his wife June in March but was determined the show must go on in tribute to his biggest supporter.

The Hospice made two key appointments in 2020. Experienced BBC broadcaster Nick Robinson was appointed a Patron of the charity, which cared for his late father Robbie, while Edna Keefe became an Honorary Vice President.

The news came as she retired after 32 years’ service. Edna’s first job was to clean the Hospice before it even welcomed its first patient and she later worked in the laundry room.

The pandemic led to volunteers standing down temporarily, the Hospice hoping to welcome them all back in 2021.


Fallibroome Academy’s Catriona Beynon hard at work making visors.


Finley Foote and mum Sarah on one of their runs.


Edna Keefe (left) with former housekeeping colleague Christine Jenkins.


Nick Robinson who became a Hospice Patron in 2020.


Accordionist John Jones who has raised over £300,000 for charity.


Nurses taking part in the Clap for Carers.

A Challenging Year

East Cheshire Hospice is predicting a big financial loss because of Covid-19.

The Hospice has been unable to hold a mass-participation fundraising event for over a year and has been forced to make redundancies.

Chief Executive Karyn Johnston said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the support from the community who’ve been incredibly generous.

“Like us, they were fearful and distracted by everything else in their own lives but they still took time out to support us and donate online, or do a fundraiser.

“Knowing that people are rooting for you like that kept us going and was the embodiment of the wind beneath our wings.

“Along with that extra goodwill, we had support from the government but we’ve been told that finishes on March 31 so we’re expecting a shortfall of almost £1m next year and have had to make some roles redundant.

“It’s a significant challenge to keep all our services going. It’s not like our service isn’t needed or we can cut back, because every single thing we do is around support for people facing incurable diseases.

“We’ve allowed visitors throughout the pandemic in a controlled and measured way and have done all we possibly can to make sure people are with loved ones right until the end.

“The PPE has been a physical barrier between the warmth, kindness and physical touch of someone who really cares for you.

“Our new Hospice @Home day time team started in April and that was absolutely needed.”

Staff members Jill Harding (left) and Tess Cleaver with the Hospice @Home car.

Hospice Chief Executive Karyn Johnston (left) and Assistant Nurse Practitioner Clare Preston welcome PPE from China in April.

Preparations For A Third Covid Wave

East Cheshire Hospice is preparing for a third wave of Covid-19 piling further pressure on the charity’s stretched resources.

Chief Executive Karyn Johnston says exhausted staff face a challenging period before a vaccine hopefully ends the crisis.

Reflecting on the toughest year in the Hospice’s history, Karyn said: “There was no respite for us when the country started to open in July and August.

“We realised we had to use that time to prepare for wave two because a consequence of getting together was that the disease spread.

“Now we’ve opened up a spreadsheet called wave three because we know Christmas is going to bring many new challenges in January.

“So we’re preparing for that and you’re piling this on human beings exhausted from what they’ve been through and who’re emotionally and physically drained.

“January and February is always a stressful time for us anyway because there are usually respiratory illnesses around then.

“We expect it to be much worse this year but there’s hope that by the end of March our frontline staff will be vaccinated. That’d be a huge step forward for us and very re-assuring.”

The Hospice, which started an asymptomatic test programme with Cheshire East Council, had to stand down all 675 volunteers initially. Around 50 are back, including a newly-created family liaison role supporting visitors with PPE rules.

Karyn said: “Standing down volunteers left a huge hole in our ability to perform the way we normally  did. All roles are vital and not many companies could lose around 600-plus employees and expect to function in the same way.

“Obviously the whole team pulled together and tried to fill those roles as best we could to keep the place going. We sorely miss our volunteers who amplify the humanity brought to our organisation in ways we didn’t fully understand until it wasn’t there.”

Caring for end-of-life patients has presented many challenges.

Karyn said: “We’re an organisation that operates in the extra mile zone so you can imagine how difficult it’s been for our front-line staff dealing with the present danger of spreading the disease but also turning to heartbroken family members and saying ‘no I’m sorry you can’t come in today.’

“That’s where the mental health of our team has been really challenged  – for a team that’s used to operating in the extra mile not being able to get there has been awful for them.”

Karyn Johnston, Chief Executive of East Cheshire Hospice.

Festive Afternoon Teas

Afternoon teas were delivered to homes as East Cheshire Hospice still made sure the festive season was celebrated in style.

The tasty treats were enjoyed by members of the Hospice’s friends and family support group at their virtual Christmas party.

Volunteer drivers took out the festive boxes prepared by the Hospice catering team in a doorstep delivery service which reflected the spirit of Christmas.

From left, staff nurse Joan Marie Williams, Denise Higginbotham from the catering team and volunteer drivers Peter Bedson and Richard Hayes.

The support group is for those looking after a family member or friend diagnosed with a life-limiting illness.

No link to the Hospice is required to be part of the group which meets on the first Tuesday of each month.

Sessions were at the Sunflower Centre until April and have been held via Zoom since the start of Covid-19.

Sunflower Centre Manager Helen Henshaw said: “For our December season  members would have been served a delicious Christmas lunch and enjoyed festive entertainment.

“So in keeping with our new technological skills we held a virtual Christmas lunchtime party which allowed everyone to enjoy the contents of the boxes and share amusing stories.

“This was a first for the Hospice and we were excited to be able to continue to offer this invaluable support.

“It also gave us the chance to wish goodbye to 2020 and pray for good health and better times in 2021.”

Anyone who provides care and support for an adult with a diagnosis of any life-limiting illness in Eastern Cheshire can access the self-referral friends and family service. For more information contact the unit on 01625 665685.

Helen said: “The group offer time to talk, share, relax and support others in a similar situation. It’s also worth stressing the group is also open to those who might not necessarily have a connection to the Hospice.

“Staff within the unit adapted quickly after Covid-19 and set themselves a challenge, initiating the use of Zoom to continue the monthly support sessions.

“These have continued during this unusual year and feedback from our service users has been extremely positive and a lifeline during lockdowns.

“We’d like to thank everyone who contributed towards making our virtual afternoon tea such a success, especially our volunteer drivers and our catering team.”

Staff nurse Joan Marie Williams and Carol Schofield from the Sunflower Centre.

Christmas Tree Collection Hopes For A Bumper year

A surge in Christmas tree sales could benefit the collection service run on behalf of East Cheshire Hospice.

Organisers are hoping the sales bonanza increases demand for their service on the weekend of January 9 and 10.

Co-organiser Richard Raymond said: “Sales are up 25 per cent nationally and that’s reflected locally as well. Talking to our tree sellers around the place they all seem to be doing very well.

“We’ve had such a rotten year and maybe people want to go out with a bang and have a proper Christmas.

“People aren’t going away either. They might have been going skiing, or to the sun or visiting relatives and normally wouldn’t have a tree but might have one this year.

“We’re envisaging a bumper year and hopefully  everyone knows we’re around. How good would that be for the Hospice if we could deliver a bumper year for them when they haven’t had any mass participation fundraising?”

The collection covers Macclesfield, Wilmslow, Alderley Edge, Bollington, Prestbury, Poynton, Congleton and Knutsford. The post codes CW12, SK9, SK10, SK11, SK12 and WA16.

The collection, sponsored by AstraZeneca, has been boosted by a £2,000 grant from Macclesfield Town Council’s finance committee.

A council spokesperson said: “The committee know how much hard work goes into organising the collection and wanted to show their support, especially in such a challenging year.”

Additional corporate support, including van sponsors, covers costs enabling donations to go straight to Hospice care.

* To register visit

Staff at the Ansa recycling plant in West Park at the 2019 Christmas tree collection.

Natalie takes on Lbs 4 £s 2021

Lockdown left Natalie Catterall slightly overweight but she has found the recipe to get back into shape.

Natalie has joined Lbs 4 £s, a three-month fitness, weight loss and well-being programme run by East Cheshire Hospice.

The health initiative starts on Friday, January 1, so participants can start shedding the extra pounds from the festive season once they have celebrated New Year.

The sessions are online and on demand which means dieters can be flexible when they take part in classes and talks on topics such as nutrition and yoga.

Natalie took part 12 months ago, losing two and a half stones after giving up chocolate, crisps, biscuits and cakes and raised £570 through sponsorship for the Hospice.

She said: “I’d recommend the programme which is going to be even bigger and better this time. I’m doing it again because I put a stone back on because of Covid and general laziness.

“I wasn’t able to go to the gym and worked from home which was a novelty at first but then became tedious and isolating. Trips downstairs for a coffee and biscuits became too frequent.

“I found myself overeating so this health programme gives me a focus and I want to get fit again.”

Returning to the office at Northwich-based charity Cheshire Autism Practical Support has already helped her.

She said: “I wasn’t as agile as I should have been sat at a desk at home and became static and stagnant, but I walk a mile each lunch break with my office colleagues which motivates us.”

Natalie is from Macclesfield where her father David lives. Her mum Hilary Woolliscroft, who died in 2017, was a Hospice patient. Hilary was a primary school swimming teacher and Macclesfield Town fan.

Bethan Wade, Challenge Events Co-ordinator at the Hospice, said: “Walking into a gym scares some people but Lbs 4 £s will have an exclusive online portal for participants, giving them the flexibility to attend classes and talks when it suits them.

“They’ll receive  an information pack including special tips, recipes and vouches, plus access to one-to-one  sessions with nutrition, well-being and fitness experts. There’s free gym opportunities and help on sponsorship.

“This is a self-motivated programme but we want to provide the information needed to pull it off, surrounded by a group of like-minded people  looking to achieve the same thing.”

Places are limited. To sign up visit

Natalie Catterall and her late mum Hilary.

JTAPE Competition Winner Amy Griffiths

Nurses at East Cheshire Hospice are proudly displaying the artistic skills of one of their younger supporters Amy Griffiths.

The Sutton schoolgirl designed face shields which are being worn by Hospice staff.

Nurses at East Cheshire Hospice wearing the face shields designed by Amy.

Amy (14) won a competition run by Macclesfield company JTAPE which manufactures the PPE equipment and masking tape.

Art pupils at Fallibroome Academy were creative when teacher Dr Helen Jones told them about the competition.

Amy’s winning entry is decorated in rainbow colours with a smiley face and bears the words ‘After The Storm Comes the Rainbow’ – a message of hope amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Art student Amy Griffiths who won a design competition run by JTAPE.

Amy received a £25 Amazon gift voucher and could choose where 100 of her face shields were distributed.

There was only one destination for Amy who earlier raised £70 for the Hospice where her  late grandmother Pat Bailey was a patient.

Amy set up a stall on a public footpath near her home and sold her painted rocks, asking walkers to donate via an honesty box.

Amy said: “I wanted the face shields to be simple and make people smile. Everyone has been through a lot with the pandemic, so I wanted them to be bright and colourful and bring happiness.

“I love art and was amazed I won the competition and automatically chose the Hospice.”

Amy’s painted rocks which raised £70 for East Cheshire Hospice.

Mum Emma said: “My mum died 15 years ago and attended the Sunflower Centre. The Hospice has always been close to our hearts and we’re delighted Amy has acknowledged the support it gave our family.”

Beartown Brewery Beer Donation

Keeping spirits up is never a problem for nurses at East Cheshire Hospice, especially now they have a supply of free beer!

Dozens of cases of pale ale were delivered to the Hospice by Beartown Brewery as a thank you for its work during Covid-19.

East Cheshire Hospice staff with Joe and Michael Manning from Beartown Brewery.

Drinking alcohol on site is, of course, strictly forbidden but staff enjoyed an off-duty tipple at home raising a glass to the Congleton brewery.

The Hospice received a supply of Care Bear beer, a brand so-called because profits from sales have been donated to the NHS and other health care providers.

Beartown Brewery managing director Joe Manning said: “The team at Beartown felt that the fundraising had run its course, but there was value to be given in showing appreciation to the health workers as we approached Christmas in a second lockdown.

“This is our way of thanking Hospice staff and nurses for their care and dedication during such a difficult year.

“We’re a family business and were flying until the pandemic struck. We began brewing a humble  864 pints a week when the company was set up five years ago and in 2019 that figure rose to a million pints a week.

“Covid has been a dampener but we’ve used the time to promote the brand and create new revenue streams through home deliveries, retail sales, subscriptions and our drive-thru.”

Beartown Brewery is run by Joe, brother Michael and their father David Manning. The family hail from Macclesfield where head brewer Robin Pierce lives.

East Cheshire Hospice Clinical Director Sandra Jones receives a beer supply from Joe Manning, Managing Director of Beartown Brewery.

Light Up A Life Virtual Service

The Chaplain of East Cheshire Hospice, Margaret Lillis, will deliver a Christmas message of hope during the Light Up A Life service on Saturday (Dec 5).

The ceremony – streamed via Zoom and Facebook Live from 3 pm – will be even more poignant this year.

Margaret said: “Our message from the Hospice to everyone, is one of support, encouragement and above all, hope. It’s been a year no-one could ever have imagined and has brought sadness and anxiety on a scale never known.

“We at the Hospice acknowledge this and offer the hand of friendship, support and understanding to everyone and anyone we can reach.

“We’re very much aware that our physical contact has been curtailed throughout this pandemic, but that certainly doesn’t mean that our level of concern and compassion is in any way diminished.

“Slowly but surely we’re working hard to continue building and strengthening the bonds between ourselves and anyone who’s had dealings with the Hospice.

“Next year we hope to reach out and support even more people whose experience of pain and loss was made even more severe by restrictions in place due to Covid 19.”

The annual Light Up a Life remembrance service, conducted from the Hospice Chapel this year, is as always open to the general public.

The service allows people to pause and reflect on an extraordinary 2020.

Margaret said: “Despite all the pain, loss and distress of this past year, perhaps we can recognise some positive aspects?  Maybe we’ve re-learned to appreciate those we love and to have more consideration for our neighbours.

“Maybe we know more than we ever did before that we can take nothing for granted. Maybe we now have a deeper understanding of gratitude and realise  – sometimes painfully –  that life is precious and all the good things of life are pure gift.

“With this in mind, let us go forward together, sharing the light of faith, hope and love with confidence and generosity.”

To register for the Zoom link visit A recording of the service will be available for those unable to watch live.

To watch on social media go to the Hospice Facebook page at 3 pm on Saturday.

Margaret Lillis, Chaplain at East Cheshire Hospice, who will deliver an online Light Up A Life service on Saturday.