December 2021 - East Cheshire Hospice

Review of the year at East Cheshire Hospice

Staff at East Cheshire Hospice once again hit extraordinary heights in 2021.

Not just caring for patients, but with a daring wing walk.

Health care assistant Jo Helm and husband  David Helm before their wing walk.

The magnificent seven on their flying machine – a classic 1940s Boeing Stearman biplane – were health care assistants Jo Helm, Jill Harding, Caroline Allen and Pam Webster, complementary therapist Gill Black, staff nurse Laura Parker and fundraiser Bethan Wade.

Jo and husband David are now planning their next adventure – a Sahara trek in November

Many supporters went to incredible lengths in aid of the Hospice.

Lucy Coppack, from Langley, hiked up 88 hills in the Peak District, defying a dislocated knee to raise more than £8,000.

The trek across trig points, in memory of her mum Lynne who died at the Hospice 25 years ago, had a poignant ending at Shutlingsloe.

Family and friends meet Lucy Coppack at the top of Shutlingsloe. 

Lynne, a landscape architect, designed the route to the summit and her dad, a council ranger, partly built the path.

Bollington teenager Finley Foote has barely stopped running since the first lockdown and is aiming to raise £10,000 from his exercise regime.

Runner Finley Foote who is well on his way towards raising £10,000.

Another non-stop fundraiser is accordion player John Jones MBE who reached a £100,000 fundraising milestone for the Hospice.

He has also raised a six-figure sum for  the intensive care unit at Macclesfield and District General Hospital which cared for his late wife June.

The vaccine roll-out saw Andrews Pharmacy, on Kennedy Avenue, become one of the first community pharmacies to begin inoculations almost a year ago.

Hospice nurses helped out while their own Sunflower Centre was closed during the pandemic, with the charity compensated for loaning staff.

A Drive-In Cinema and Firewalk signalled the gradual return of fundraising events organised by the Hospice.

Meanwhile, volunteer Elspeth Julian retired after 33 years with the charity.

Elspeth, from Prestbury, had been an adult bereavement counsellor almost since the day the Hospice opened its doors in 1988.

Elspeth Julian who retired after 33 years as a volunteer at East Cheshire Hospice.

Another farewell saw postman Robin Emery, from Hurdsfield, make his final delivery before retirement – a cheque of more than £2,000 for the Hospice.

Robin Emery who retired after 28 years as a postman. Picture courtesy of Paul Woods.

Robin’s final round was Gawsworth where he even held a farewell party to thank villagers for their friendship and support.

In September, the Hospice opened a new Proseal Wing, named after the company which generously donated funds so the extension could be built at the charity’s site on Millbank Drive.

What Women Want latest

The staggering sum of £54,000 raised for East Cheshire Hospice from a glitzy ball shows the love for the charity from within the community.

That is the view of the What Women Want group who announced their post-lockdown return to major fundraising events in spectacular style.

Their Cranage Hall bash raised £27,000 on the night – a total generously match-funded by a close friend and benefactor.

The group will buy a second new car for the charity’s Hospice @Home service, having also funded a first car. Proceeds will also decorate a lounge for patients and families.

 What Women Want members (from left) Jayne Carter, Jo Millward, Julie Barnes, Jill Harding and Elaine Burgess.

Group chair Jayne Carter said: “It was good to be back and we had a brilliant evening. The overriding impression from the night was just how much love there is out there for the Hospice, everyone was so generous.

“It’s an amazing amount raised and we can’t thank all of our sponsors enough along with everyone who attended the event and made it such a special occasion.

“It’s been a difficult couple of years for everyone and we’re so thrilled to have raised so much money.” A diamond pendant from P R Jones Jeweller was also raffled off.

Hospice Chief Executive Karyn Johnston said: “Yet again the What Women Want have shown what marvellous supporters they are of the Hospice. We can’t thank them enough for their long-standing dedication and hard work.”

The other members of WWW are Julie Barnes, Jo Millward, Jill Harding and Elaine Burgess.


Festive sparkle with Jingle Bell Jog

A Jingle Bell Jog brought festive sparkle to the smiling faces of children across Macclesfield. Almost 10,000 youngsters took part in a sponsored run or walk to raise much-needed funds for East Cheshire Hospice.

Some 48 organisations, mostly schools, joined in the fun despite bad weather and wore festive headwear. Nurseries and beaver groups also tackled their own routes. All Hallows Catholic College has raised more than £12,000 for the Hospice from the event over the years.

Its year 7 students were out in force again, with 200 pupils braving wind and rain for a bracing jog around the school playing fields.

Year 7 pupils at All Hallows Catholic College prepare for the Jingle Bell Jog.

Sophie Thomason, assistant faculty leader of PE, said: “We’ve done this event every year for the last 10 years or so. It’s important to support a charity like the Hospice, especially as it’s so close to home.

“Like many other charities, the Hospice income has been affected by Covid.  Pupils entered into the spirit of the occasion and we thank them for their enthusiasm, and parents and families for sponsoring them.”

The Jog was emotional for nursery practitioner Teigan Caldwell.

Nursery worker Teigan Caldwell with children at Kids Planet.

She took toddlers from Kids Planet where she works around West Park, only a few days after losing a close friend.

Tiegan said: “The care provided by the Hospice for her was amazing. I was dreading doing the Jog, but it was something I needed to do and it was poignant for me.

“Our children who took part are three or four years old and I’d like to praise them for their efforts and those who sponsored them.”

Hospice community fundraising assistant Claire Gorton said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the support from schools and groups who’ve been inspired to raise money for a great local cause.

“Participants range in age from nursery level to college students and they come from Macclesfield, Wilmslow, Alderley Edge, Kettleshulme and Congleton. The fact 10,000 children have been involved is fantastic.

“We’re so grateful to everyone who’s taking part, or has helped by sponsoring someone who’s participating.

“It’s been another difficult year for everyone and East Cheshire Hospice and schools are no exception. The funds raised will make a big difference and thank you so much to everyone who’s contributing.”

Headwear for the Jingle Bell Jog represented Elf, Snowman, Reindeer and Santa. Last year it was known as the Reindeer Run and next year it will be the Elf Run.

Dementia Services Co-Ordinator

Sharon Hurley could easily have followed another career when she left school at 16 without the necessary qualifications to become a nurse.

Thankfully, she never gave up hope and kept trying by gaining experience in a health care environment and eventually fulfilled her dream.

That was a long time ago but her passion for nursing has never diminished.

Sharon is now an experienced staff nurse in the Sunflower Centre at East Cheshire Hospice where she also co-ordinates dementia services.


She said: “I always wanted to do nursing, but didn’t have enough O Levels to get into the profession.

“So I started doing care work and general auxiliary nursing and paid to go back to college for two years.

“Even then, I didn’t have enough O Levels to start the course, but they took me on because I’d showed I really wanted to pursue my nursing and they accepted me.

“If they hadn’t given me a chance, I’d never have done my nursing.

“The role of a nurse has changed over the years and at times can be challenging and emotional, but generally is a very rewarding job when you see you’ve made a difference to people’s lives.”

Sharon has been in health care for 33 years, including 15 years in district nursing and on the wards at Macclesfield District General Hospital.

She has vast experience of dementia care and life-limiting illness, so is ideally placed to oversee the Hospice’s dementia  services for patients and carers.

Activities include a monthly Singing Together class and Love to Move, a seated exercise class.

There is also an eight-week programme for patients and carers, plus a dementia companion service in which trained volunteers provide companionship for those with dementia, giving carers respite for two hours.

That service had to be suspended during Covid-19 when others went online. Understandably, safety  guidelines continue to be monitored closely.

Sharon said: “Face-to-face sessions mean carers speak to other carers and that peer support is appreciated. It was all taken from them during Covid which was a strain for them.

“We get a lot of positive feedback from those attending our carers programme. Some patients are in the very early stages of dementia and don’t know where to turn to.”

* To discuss dementia services contact Sharon on 01625 666990.

Talking About Dementia

Clues that someone may have early stage dementia are shown in different ways, according to Sharon Hurley, Dementia Services Co-ordinator at East Cheshire Hospice.

She said: “Early signs of dementia are often shown in everyday living, like forgetting simple tasks.

“Someone may enjoying singing and forgets the words. That’s why at our Singing Together groups we give out a song sheet to help them sing the songs.

“Another way of forgetfulness could be putting clothes on the wrong way round,  or following their loved ones around the home constantly for re-assurance.

“Dementia probably wasn’t spoken about as much when I started my career, whereas now it’s in the news much more. Cancer was probably more of a topic than dementia back then.

“It’s also been highlighted more on adverts on TV during Covid and with more personal documentaries about the struggles people are living with quietly and which haven’t always come to the surface before.

“I think GPs are more aware about dementia now as well and patients are getting referred on sooner than perhaps they might have done at one time.

“Fortunately, there are more services available to support people living with dementia. These services are expanding and still developing.

“Here at the Hospice we can provide the support that is required to enable a better quality of life for patients and their families.”

Welcome to the team!

After a career in catering, Michelle Brown is used to spinning a lot of plates.

Multi tasking is certainly required in her role as the new general services manager at East Cheshire Hospice.

Michelle is part of a strong team behind the scenes ensuring the Hospice runs smoothly. Their roles are just as important as the front-line nurses delivering care to patients.

Michelle Brown, the new General Services Manager at East Cheshire Hospice.

Catering, maintenance and housekeeping all fall under Michelle’s wide remit. So, too, compliance to meet changes in legislation relating to food hygiene, health and safety, or any other issues.

Michelle can call on the Hospice handy man, or any other service contractor, to fix anything from a broken light bulb, or faulty washing machine.

She said: “I don’t know how to physically fix everything in here, but it’s knowing how to get the right people to do it. My job is also about negotiating contracts and understanding who your suppliers are.”

Michelle’s background is contract catering. Her previous job was as operations manager for 17 schools and colleges, a link with the education sector which stretches back as many years.

However, the pandemic gave her food for thought.

She said: “When I sat back and reflected during lockdown, I realised I wanted to give something back and just had to apply.

“Our aim is to give people the best possible care, whether it’s nursing, food, surroundings, or facilities.

“Clearly, the Hospice has always set such high standards and I just want to be part of that and see what I can add to make a difference. It’s a lovely environment and people are happy and friendly.”

Michelle, who works closely with head chef Ray Hamilton, also has a catering background in restaurants, care homes and a hospital after she trained initially in hotel management.

Michelle said:  “As time goes on and you progress into management, you tend to go more into the operational side of things to expand your knowledge and skills.

“It has tended to be a male-dominated role, but we’ve moved on a little bit now and I think women are being more recognised for these roles.”

Bringing the bling to East Cheshire Hospice

Jewellery expert Helen Dimmick is hoping her new TV fame will add extra sparkle to her support for East Cheshire Hospice.

Helen, from Macclesfield, joined fellow specialists on the ITV daytime show Bling, hosted by  Gok Wan.

Helen, a qualified gemmologist and diamond grader, was part of a specially made one-stop shop helping the public buy and sell jewellery, or have it remodelled, or fixed.

Jewellery expert Helen Dimmick who starred in ITV show Bling

She also has her own business and runs Annie’s Legacy, a fundraising initiative she set up in the name of her late grandmother.

Helen donates 15 per cent of the profit from work undertaken in memory of a loved one to the Hospice, which cared for Annie who inspired her love of jewellery.

Helen said:  “The TV show was fantastic and I really enjoyed doing it and the feedback has been extremely positive.

“I didn’t set out to be on television but what’s lovely is it raises the profile of my industry and what we’re doing. As we know with jewellery it tells a story about its meaning and sentiment.”

Her offer to help through Annie’s Legacy is still open. The service allows jewellery left behind by loved ones to be treasured forever.

Helen can resize rings, remodel jewellery, recycle gold for cash or even create bespoke items.

Her contribution to the Hospice also applies to purchases made in memory of a loved one, as well as  for any work commissioned.

* To contact Helen email, or call 07939 047056.

ECH Tree Collection 2022

The Christmas tree collection in aid of East Cheshire Hospice will be back in full swing in 2022. Registrations are open, with organisers hoping for a green Christmas by promoting the eco-friendly benefits of buying a real tree.

The event – delayed until April this year because of the pandemic – is back on schedule again for the weekend of January  15/16. The last collection raised a record £150,000, bringing the total generated for the charity to almost £1.2m as the scheme approaches its 22nd year.

Volunteers will be collecting trees over east Cheshire and beyond. The post codes covered are CW12, SK9, SK10, SK11, SK12 and WA16. The event is sponsored by local businesses, such as main sponsors AstraZeneca, meaning all donations go straight to the Hospice. To register trees visit

Trees are recycled at the Ansa plant in West Park, Macclesfield, a centre dubbed the Mulchers Arms where refreshments are served to helpers. Co-founder Richard Raymond said: “It’ll be good to have our full team of volunteers back together again and we’re hoping the public support us as they’ve done so wonderfully well in the past.

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

“Their generous donations in exchange for collecting their trees provide vital funds for the care of patients. Of course, we’ll abide by all restrictions and produce a safe environment for the collection.

“There are persuasive reasons why real trees are more eco friendly than plastic trees, most of which are manufactured in the Far East.

“These use low-grade plastics such as PVC which are almost impossible to recycle.  How would we feel if plastic pine needles were found in the belly of a whale in the ocean?

“The Carbon Trust says you need to keep a plastic tree for 10 years or more for its carbon footprint to be better than a real tree. However, a Life Cycle Analysis came to the conclusion that a figure of 20 years was more realistic.

“We recycle every tree we collect to the benefit of Cheshire farmland and this soil-improver brings life back to the soil.

“In addition, the figures for fly-tipped trees in the Cheshire East area have dramatically reduced since the Hospice collection offered a pick-up and recycling alternative.

“Make sure a tree seller has sourced it from a sustainable grower. Christmas trees are often grown on agricultural land such as steep slopes which are of no other use.”

Hospice Complimentary Therapy

Volunteer Juliet Lee is encouraging others to follow in her footsteps by becoming a complementary therapist at East Cheshire Hospice. The former nurse steps down shortly when her husband retires.

The Hospice is looking for qualified complementary therapists, particularly in touch therapies such as massage and reflexology.

Juliet has no hesitation in recommending a role she has performed for more than five years.

Hospice complementary therapist Juliet Lee.

She said: “I volunteer for a few hours each week. To be able to use hands-on skills to make people feel comfortable and relaxed at an extremely challenging time of their lives is very rewarding.

“I work within a closely-knit team with holistic care at its heart. The touch we all give is so important.

“Patients at this time are sadly associating ‘touch’ with needles and invasive procedures so they appreciate, by contrast, the gentle and comforting touch we can offer.

“The Hospice is a haven where they receive a  metaphorical hug and where TLC is front and centre.  Working as a complementary therapist there is wonderful!

“I think this quotation from the American poet Maya Angelou sums up the ethos behind the work we do:

“‘People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.’ ”

Helena Smith, from the Hospice volunteering team, said: “Our volunteer complementary therapists have such power to make a real difference to our patients.”

* Anyone interested in this role can contact Helena on 01625 664984.