May 2021 - East Cheshire Hospice

Wing Walking Grannies

Fictional fighter pilot Biggles is back in the skies for his next heroic adventure – this time as fearless flying grannies.

Age is no barrier for the five fundraisers who will climb on top of a classic 1940s Boeing Stearman biplane for a wing walk next month.

Health and safety requirements prevent them from wearing helmets, goggles, sheepskin jackets and scarves for their aerial stunt in aid of East Cheshire Hospice.

The outfits belong to Hospice volunteer Barbara Spivey who, at 74, is the oldest of the granny squadron.

She has run Spivey’s Web, a fancy dress shop on Chestergate which also sells unusual gifts, for 30 years with daughter Donna.

Donna has declined the challenge, unlike her brave mum who sported the outfits with fellow wing walkers to promote the flights.

Barbara said: “I’m an avid traveller and always fancied a wing walk. I went close to Everest base camp aged 64 and have visited places like Iran, Kazakhstan and South America. Travelling is the be all and end all for me and I’ve a friend who runs wildlife tours.”

Barbara has been a ward volunteer at the Hospice for 15 years but has been unable to help here for more than a year because of Covid restrictions.

Her late sister-in-law was cared for in a local hospice, persuading Barbara to become a volunteer.

Friend Jacky Macleod is also taking part in the wing walk at an airfield in Gloucestershire on Monday, June 21.

Jacky said: “I was a trolley dolly a long time ago and am trying not to think about being strapped to the top of a plane.”

Between them, the women have 18 grandchildren, eight of them for Hospice health care assistant Pam Webster.

Pam said: “I did a sky dive 15 years ago and it was brilliant. A wing walk has been on my ‘to do’ list and one of my grandchildren is convinced I’m going to fall. Another has said I’m mad, while my mum wonders what on earth I’m doing.”

Colleague Caroline Allen and complementary therapist Gill Black are the other grandmothers  sponsored for the challenge.

Gill said: “I like to do a challenge every year and have done a Firewalk before. I’m nervous, don’t like heights and am not too keen on flying. However, I’ll probably feel better on the outside of a plane rather than the inside.”

Four of the granny squadron. From left, Pam Webster, Gill Black, Jacky Macleod and Barbara Spivey.

Cuddly Grief Bears

Cuddly Grief Bears are bringing comfort to children coping with bereavement.

Many of the woollen bears are knitted by East Cheshire Hospice volunteer Betty Malkin.

The Hospice supports bereaved children, or those with a close relative with a life-limiting illness.

Children choose their favourite six-inch bear colour and a personal message which is sewn into the back.

One is kept by the child and the other goes to those in their thoughts.

Betty, a great grandmother, said: “I’ve been making the bears for about two years and started off making just a few but it’s snowballed, especially during the pandemic  when people couldn’t make Hospice visits.

“Making the bears gave me a sense of purpose during lockdown. I’ve been making crafts for the Hospice for five years and knit every day. Last winter I knitted Christmas puddings with Ferrero Rocher chocolate inside.”

Betty’s items are sold at Henry’s café, Prestbury, and Shine Hair and Beauty, Upton Priory, with proceeds going to the Hospice.

She is one of several craft volunteers, including Grief Bear makers, who generously give their time and skill to raise funds.

Volunteer Services Co-ordinator Helena Smith said: “Betty’s amazing work is an example of the dedication shown by our arts and crafts volunteers.

“We were inundated when we appealed for volunteers last summer when we thought it’d be a nice gift for people who were unable to visit the ward.”

Children’s counsellor Jane Burton said: “The bears are popular with families in grief therapy and demand has grown in both the inpatient and outpatient units. Children have adapted them to suit their own ideas for individual therapeutic needs.”

Betty Malkin with her latest delivery of Grief Bears for East Cheshire Hospice.

Hide a Smile’s Fundraising Face Coverings

Voluntary group Hide a Smile could not stop grinning after raising £6,188 making face coverings.

The donations to East Cheshire Hospice are being collected at Prestbury Village Pharmacy where masks are still available to buy.

Some 19 sewing enthusiasts joined a WhatsApp group after founder Sheila MacLaren spread the word on social media over a year ago that virus protection was needed.


Hide a Smile members (from left) Sue Matykiewicz, Sheila MacLaren and Caroline Harrison-Croft with pharmacist David Wood.


Sheila, a semi-retired structural engineer, said: “I blew the dust off my sewing machine and we started off making scrubs for clinical staff before concentrating on face coverings.

“Fabric was donated and Covid restrictions meant we had pick-up and drop-off points to keep the production line in full swing.”

Pharmacist David Wood and his staff gave out 1,200 coverings in return for an average donation of £5 to a collection box.

He said: “It’s a great community story borne out of necessity at a time when there were no masks or even hand gel.

“As a community pharmacy, it was a natural place to distribute masks, especially as there weren’t many other shops open.”

Volunteer Caroline Harrison-Croft, who owned a garment design company, said:  “I’ve always sewn and it was pretty boring at first during lockdown so I was delighted to help. The masks are washable and environmentally friendly.”

Another volunteer Sue Matykiewicz said: “Our group still haven’t met up yet. We’d like to thank everyone for their efforts and those who donated to support the Hospice.”

Hide a Smile also made coverings for pupils at Fallibroome Academy.


Hide a Smile volunteer  Judy Biggin wearing one of the coverings she made.

Chess ICT take on the Corporate Challenge

Colleagues of proud brother and sister Chris and Grace Wright are helping them pay tribute to their late mum.

Julie Wright was the first employee at technology services provider Chess ICT where she was Operations Director.

Julie, from Tytherington, was cared for by East Cheshire Hospice when she died of cancer in 2013, aged 51.

Ever since Chess ICT has been a regular supporter of the Hospice, signing up for its latest Corporate Challenge campaign.

Sales leader Chris and Grace, from HR, are among 350 staff nationwide undertaking fundraising initiatives in May.

All are receiving Smarties with a request to fill tubes with coins once they have eaten the chocolate.

Chess ICT Head of Culture Tim Wilkinson-Hall said: “No-one uses cash anymore, so we want colleagues to donate loose change, with prizes including the quickest response and the most amount.

“The company is also donating £1 every time someone is nominated for doing a good deed for a colleague.

“Many of our employees are from Macclesfield and we’ve always supported the Hospice as corporate partners.

“We support them whenever we can because of how they supported Julie and her family. Julie was very well known in our business and is remembered with affection.”

Chess ICT has refurbished its Alderley Edge headquarters where 150 staff were based before lockdowns.

More than half may continue home working, even as restrictions ease.

Tim said: “Many employees prefer to work from home for more time with family. Our company is doing really well and recruiting again. We’ve recently donated old laptops to schoolchildren and charities.”

Chief Executive and founder David Pollock said: “It’s vital modern business plays a part in the wider community and it’s great for employee engagement. We’ve had staff jump out of planes, run 10ks, bake cakes and dress up in silly clothes. Activities bond them together and binds them with the community. It’s also good for business.

“The Hospices does phenomenal work in our community looking after people at the end-of-life and we’re delighted to support such a much-loved charity.”

Other participants in the Corporate Challenge are Kuehne+Nagel, Equilibrium Financial Planning, McCann, Pan European Networks, Leap 29 and Spirit Medical Communications. The aim is to raise as much as possible from a £100 start up loan during May.


Sales leader Chris Wright (front right) with his team from Chess ICT tackling Snowdon in 2019 as part of the Hospice’s Corporate Challenge. 

2021 Christmas Tree Collection Total

The Christmas tree collection in aid of East Cheshire Hospice raised a record £150,000 this year.

Delighted co-founder of the scheme Richard Raymond said: “It’s our 21st year, so we’ve come of age with a bang.”

Around 1,000 trees were collected over three days last month once lockdown restrictions were eased – a sixth of the trees that would have been recycled had the collection not been postponed from January.

Most donors got rid of trees themselves and some who had not even registered also made donations.

The funds are enough to provide palliative care for three weeks at the Hospice which needs £7,500 a day to keep its doors open.


Tree collection co-founders Richard Raymond (left) and Pete Chapman.


Richard said: “We did get some bemused looks as we carried dead old brown Christmas trees at the end of April, but it gave us the opportunity to tell people about the collection and the Hospice.

“People knew about the plight of charities and the Hospice, in particular, because of Covid-19 and they were even more generous with their donations this year with the average amount donated per tree going up.

“It’s a wonderful indication of the community in which we serve that people put their hands so deep into their pockets. Their generosity is quite overwhelming and we thank them sincerely.”

Richard and fellow co-founder Pete Chapman will now get a break of a couple of months before they start planning the next collection in January 2022.


Volunteer Mel Curwen helps out during the Christmas tree collection.

Volunteers Begin Cautious Return

East Cheshire Hospice is bringing back volunteers slowly following the Covid crisis.

Volunteers on the ward and in the Sunflower Centre could be among the next roles to return.

The Hospice is proceeding with extreme caution to meet Covid safety guidelines.

Voluntary Services Co-ordinator Helena Smith said: “The clinical roles are the hardest to get back because of infection control, even though they’re very much needed.

“We’re trying to reduce footfall in the ward and clinical staff have been undertaking work usually done by volunteers who bring something extra.”

Drivers for day care patients and receptionist staff came back some time ago.

Helena said: “We’ll be in touch with people as and when roles become available. Not knowing what the future holds makes it difficult to plan ahead with confidence.

“If you’re not back yet and you want to come back, we want you back when the time’s right. Anyone who’s volunteered here before can come back if they wish.

“I must pay tribute to our fundraising volunteers who’ve adapted magnificently, selling masks, hand-made goods and cakes etc to friends and neighbours.

“They’ve been creative and generated a huge amount for us, as has everyone else. The community has offered to help as volunteers and it’s been hard turning them down.

“Volunteering is good for mental and physical health. It’s been hard knowing the people who work so hard for us aren’t able to do what they love.

“They want to contribute but can’t and have found that really difficult.”

Helena Smith, Voluntary Services Co-ordinator at East Cheshire Hospice.

Hospice Gardening Volunteers

Tending to plants and patients is all in a day’s work for Lindsay Taylor at East Cheshire Hospice.

There she is among a dedicated band of volunteers making the gardens at the Millbank Drive site look their best.

Other times the all-rounder swaps her gardening gloves for her nurse’s uniform caring for patients on the ward.

Lindsay, from Macclesfield, even managed to do both jobs in one day owing to her lifestyle.

She retired as full-time nurse 18 months ago, but stayed on as a member of the bank staff.

Lindsay now works an average of two shifts a week, freeing her up to help out in the gardens.

She said: “One day last week I was in the gardens in the morning and then worked as a nurse in the afternoon.

“I love it. I’ve been a nurse for almost 40 years, including the last six years at the Hospice before retiring, and can now pick and choose the days I work.

“On the ward I often thought I’d like to be out there doing some gardening and now I’ve got the best of both worlds.

“I’d say I’m more enthusiastic than able as a gardener, but I enjoy being out in the fresh air pulling up weeds.

“As a nurse I also know what it means to patients to see the gardens from either the Sunflower Centre, or the bays on the ward. Patients and families can also come out and enjoy the open space and flowers.

“It’s been a challenging period for everyone at the Hospice and the toughest period nurses have known.”

Other volunteer gardeners include Pat Dawson and Gail Robinson whose roles as flower arrangers had to be temporarily suspended because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Pat has been brightening up the ward with her floral arrangements for more than 20 years and also volunteers at fundraising events.

“I help out in all kinds of ways, including car parking, registration, open days and collection boxes. It’s nice to meet other volunteers as well and get to know their different interests.”

Gail’s husband Lawrence drives the Hospice’s furniture van and volunteers at the Christmas tree collection.

Gail said: “I enjoy gardening and look forward to flower arranging again once restrictions are eased and we’re allowed to get back in. We know friends who’ve benefitted from being in the Hospice and it’s such a lovely place.”

Some of the Hospice gardening team. From left, Mark Reddiough, Pat Dawson, Nev Wardle, Gail Robinson and Lindsay Taylor.