November 2022 - East Cheshire Hospice

Mark Leah Movember Challenge

Pilates teacher Mark Leah is desperate to have a shave.

For the 10th year in a row he has grown a moustache for his Movember challenge.

As usual, he will delay taking a razor to his upper lip until mid-December to raise as much as possible for East Cheshire Hospice.

He has already raised more than £11,000 for the charity which cared for his late father-in-law George Calnun in 2009.

Then….Mark Leah before his Movember challenge.

The figure minus Gift Aid is about £9,200, so ideally he wants to take his total to over £10,000 this year.

Mark said: “My moustache is really itchy and I can’t wait to get rid of it. There’ve been times when I’ve reached for the razor, but realise I can’t use it.

“It never starts quickly but the more it grows and dafter it looks the more people ask me questions and hopefully donate.

“By leaving it until near Christmas it creates another talking point, which hopefully leads to extra donations.

“I might colour it, but my hair is bushy, bulky and coarse so isn’t easy to dye.”

Now…Mark Leah well on his way with his moustache.

Mark runs face-to-face classes at Trinity House and online and gets a reaction from pupils who generously donate.

He said: “They’re always curious and see a change weekly.  I’m going for a Magnum, or Mexican effect, but am not quite sure how it’ll turn out.”

He even grew his moustache back the first year to recreate the look for a Hospice publicity picture.

* To donate visit

Claritas Choir this festive season

Claritas Choir are back performing live again after an enforced absence.

The East Cheshire Hospice singers staged their first performance in three years due to Covid.

They made their comeback in Congleton two weeks ago.

The choir are holding a concert at Macclesfield and Bollington United Reformed Church, Park Green, on Tuesday, December 13, at 7.30 pm.

The programme includes a number of the choir’s favourite songs, plus Christmas music, some of which will be in ‘sing-a-long’ format involving audience participation.

Members of Claritas choir hand over a cheque for £617 from their recent concert to East Cheshire Hospice. From left, Gail Robinson, Mike Baker, Sue Parker, Tessa Hughes, Ron Gould, Lorna Searls, Richard Johnson, Claire Gorton (Hospice fundraise), Anne Pillai, Kim Monaghan and Julie Dunsford.

Tickets, including refreshments, are £8 for adults and £5 for under 18s. They are available in advance from the Hospice reception and choir members, or on the door.

The choir will also be appearing at the Light Up A Life service for the Hospice at St Michael and All Angels Church this Saturday (Dec 3) at 4.30 pm.

The half-hour service is a chance to remember lost loved ones and is suitable for those of all faiths and none.  Tickets are not required and attendees should be there for 4 pm.

Committee member Marian Mackay said: “It’s good to be back in full swing after so long away.  It was incredibly difficult during Covid.  We did meet via Zoom, but it wasn’t the same as live  rehearsals.”

Over the last 10 years Claritas has raised in the region of £35,000 for the Hospice.

The Musical director is Kath Ibbotson, with Hilary Balsdon as accompanist.

Rehearsals are held on Monday evenings from 7.00 pm until 9.00 pm at the Silk Life Centre, George Street, Macclesfield.

New members are always welcome. For more details visit the website

* The Hospice Christmas tree collection has already attracted more than 700 registrations before December.

The collection, sponsored by AstraZeneca,  is held the weekend of January 14/15.

Donors are asked to leave trees outside in an easily accessible location.

Business sponsorship covers costs so every penny donated goes directly to providing care for Hospice patients.

To register trees visit

* Learn how to make a Christmas wreath at Fold Yoga on Sunday, December 4 (2 pm- 6 pm).

The workshop is organised by floral designer Sarah Hinchliffe, who opened her business North & Flower in Macclesfield last year.

The venue is The Engine Rooms, Sunderland Street. The cost is £50, with 10 per cent of ticket fees going to the charity. All materials are provided. To book visit

5S Fitness take on Five Peak Hike

Fitness enthusiasts pushed themselves to the limit with a marathon walk in the Peak District.

A 30-strong group from 5S Fitness spent 10 hours hiking between five major peaks, raising £4,000 for East Cheshire Hospice.

Their challenge started and ended at the gym on Hurdsfield Road, taking in a loop of Tegg’s Nose, Shutlingsloe, Shining Tor, Nab Hill and White Nancy.

Walkers about to set off from their gym.

It was a poignant journey for many gym members who have had friends and relatives cared for by the Hospice.

Among them hairdresser Heather Smith, whose late friend Sarah Bell died at the Hospice just over a year ago.

Sarah, who had cancer, passed away a month before her 40th birthday.

Heather said: “Sarah was a dear and beautiful friend and spent the last weeks of her life at the Hospice.

Walkers at the top of Shutlingsloe.

“They were amazing and even let her beloved dog Bailey stay by her side. The care was incredible.

“I wanted to do something to raise money for the Hospice in her memory and it seemed the perfect thing to do.

“I loved the walk. The hardest part was going up Nab Hill and once I saw the last peak it was amazing. I want to thank everyone who made donations.”

Heather Smith (right) enjoying well-earned refreshments with fellow gym member Carly Taylor. 

Heather raised £1,816, including donations from clients at Adored Hair, the salon she owns on Chestergate.

The 26-mile hike was organised by gym owner and head coach Jason Curtis, a former Army PT instructor.

Jason said: “We do one big event each year for the Hospice as almost everyone in the gym has some sort of connection with the charity.

“Whenever we mention the Hospice, there’s always a good response and we’ve held virtual challenges over the last couple of years during Covid.

“We thought there’s no point just walking a marathon on the road, as we ‘re right by the Peak District.

“We finished on schedule and even managed a couple of pints at the Cat and Fiddle on the way.

“It was a lethal route, but thankfully we had good weather.

Heather Smith (left) and Jason Curtis present a cheque to East Cheshire Hospice corporate fundraiser Lisa Ball.

“We’ve around 150 members. Some are world class athletes, though most are middle aged and want to get fit and healthy.

“We run all types of strength and conditioning classes, but also get referrals from physios for people with all sorts of ailments, including stroke rehab, osteoporosis and arthritis.”

Some gym members will run the route next year rather than walk.

Christmas Tree Collection January 2023

The Christmas tree collection in aid of East Cheshire Hospice will be back to normal in January.

Registrations are now open, with organisers promoting the eco-friendly benefits of buying a real tree.

The event – over the weekend of January 14/15 – raised a record-equalling £150,000 for the Hospice last winter.

Unlike last year, Covid restrictions are not an issue for the 23rd year of the collection, which is believed to be the largest in the world!

More than £1.5m has been raised in that time, thanks to the generosity of donors and dozens of willing helpers.

Tree collectors in Broken Cross in 2022. James Chapman (left), brother Chris and Caitlin Howarth.

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, including main sponsors AstraZeneca, meaning all donations go straight to the Hospice. To register trees visit

Trees are recycled into mulch at the local Ansa Environmental Services plant before being industrially composted.

It is estimated that around 500 supporters have been donating Christmas trees regularly since the scheme began.

Organisers are hoping to mark that loyal dedication for the 25th anniversary of the project in 2025.

Co-founder Richard Raymond said: “It’s hard to believe that we’re about to reach our 23rd year of collecting Christmas trees for the Hospice.

“We wouldn’t have got this far without the generosity of owners of Christmas trees whose kind donations make such a difference to Hospice care.

“The funds raised are a significant contribution towards caring for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their families and carers.

“It’s good to be back to normal again after the upheaval of the last couple of years.

“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.

“We recycle every tree we collect into a soil improver for the benefit of Cheshire farmland.”

Collection vans will leave from the Hospice in staggered starts like last year.

Potted trees will also be collected. Richard said: “We collected about 20 last time and have someone who will grow them on to be sold next year as Christmas trees in aid of the Hospice.”

Flashback to January and Christmas tree collectors (from left), Steve Bower, Gary Richards and son Criss.

Denise takes on Firewalk

Yoga teacher Denise Fraser-King describes herself as a ‘wimp’ but she walked where many others would not dare treading on hot coals.

Stepping over burning embers in a Firewalk at East Cheshire Hospice did not worry Denise after the ordeal she has faced over the last six months.

The sudden loss of husband Simon aged 62, in June turned her world upside down.

Simon, an IT consultant, died six weeks after he was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer which spread through his body.  His last eight days were in the care of the Hospice.

Denise Fraser-King (right) with her sister Jean Ham after their Firewalk.

Denise said: “Simon was fit and active and when the cancer came out of the blue it was a massive shock.

“You want the best for a loved one and we had to fight a lot of battles during his illness.

“But I didn’t have to do any of that once he went into the Hospice. I felt comfortable, knowing he was somewhere he was being looked after.

“It changed how everything was for us. The care was superb.  They were looking after me as well.

“As soon as he got there you see that, even though he was poorly, the burden had been taken off us both.

“They just held my hand basically, pushing me to look after myself as well. It was a Godsend at a time when basically you’re not even thinking in a logical way.

“You need other people to help you as much as possible. They see it every day and took over.

Simon King who was a patient at East Cheshire Hospice.

“It’s such a lovely place. The way it feels and everything they do for families.

“When I was told he was going into a Hospice, I thought ‘Oh, doom and gloom and I don’t fancy that.’

“The thought of everyone dying, but it doesn’t feel like that when you’re there. It felt pleasant and nice, with an uplifting atmosphere.”

Denise’s sister Jean Ham organised a dog show at her home in North Wales to raise funds for the Hospice.

Denise, a hynotherapy student, said: “Part of dealing with things is throwing yourself into something and that’s what I’ve been doing.

“I wanted to give something back. I’m a bit of a wimp, but the Firewalk didn’t bother me. It was a case of mind over matter.”

More than 30 firewalkers took part, including supporters from Adelphi Group Ltd.

* To donate to Denise’s fundraising visit

A round up of Canoe Against Cancer brothers

Dodging discarded supermarket trolleys was just one of the challenges facing brothers George and Tom Bentham on their coast-to-coast canoe challenge.

The pair counted 23 shopping trolleys on their 195-mile paddle in memory of their late father Mark.

They had to carry their canoe twice around large sections of drained canal under repair.

Tom (left) and George Bentham by the Humber Bridge, the finish line of their canoe adventure.

The brothers have raised £5,279 for East Cheshire Hospice from their nine-day adventure and a similar amount for Macmillan.

Both charities cared for Mark, from Broken Cross, who died of cancer in September 2019, aged 58.

The route went from near Lancaster to Preston, Manchester and into Yorkshire before ending under the Humber Bridge.

Tom said: “It wasn’t quite what we expected. We thought we’d suffer more from physical fatigue, but thankfully our training prepared us well.

Canoeists Tom (left) and George Bentham by an old canal lock gate in Lancashire.

“It was amazing to see how much the country changes. We saw kingfishers and counted herons, then through Manchester into Rochdale counted shopping trolleys.

“It was a relief to finish, but also sad. We flew towards the Humber Bridge with the tide, until it turned near the finish, which was our final challenge.

“We paddled 10-12 hours a day, with our legs, knees, backs and shoulders taking the strain.

“It was an emotional journey, and we want to thank our great sponsors and everyone else who helped us along the way, raising and donating money.

“That includes those en route who shared a story, or the change from their pockets.”

* To donate visit

The brothers will be sharing their story at the Hospice’s Winter Ball at Macclesfield Rugby Club on Friday, November 25.

Dementia services at East Cheshire Hospice

A range of dementia care services are available to East Cheshire Hospice patients.

They include one-to-one sessions, either at the Hospice or at home, if appropriate.

Admiral Nurse Debbie Callow said: “Generally we pick up on people who come to the Hospice and need more attention.

“This could be on the ward, via the Hospice @Home service, or through our dementia activities. We identify if those diagnosed, or the carer, needs additional support.”

An eight-week well-being programme for carers, which began in 2015, is popular. Topics include understanding dementia, benefits, legal aspects, stress, diet and nutrition and community support.

East Cheshire Hospice offers a range of dementia services.

The Hospice also has a companion service. Trained volunteers take out a patient for a couple of hours, giving carers vital respite.

Monthly singing groups, featuring live entertainment and dancing, are always well attended. Debbie said: “Someone may be losing their ability to have a conversation and forgetting certain words, but put a song on and they can remember all the words.

“That’s because the brain remembers anything with rhythm differently to everyday language. Singing helps trigger memories.”

Another activity is Love to Move, a seated exercise for over 55s described as ‘brain gymnastics.’ It improves communication, mobility, stamina and well-being.

Dementia nurse Paul Dale said: “To access Hospice services someone needs a diagnosis. They can either self-refer, or be referred by a health care professional.

“The most common symptoms are short-term memory loss, personality changes and language difficulties.”

* For general inquiries contact the Hospice dementia team on 01625 666990.

Dementia team at East Cheshire Hospice

East Cheshire Hospice has strengthened its dementia team to cope with increasing demand.

Experienced mental health specialist Paul Dale has joined as a dementia nurse, enabling the charity to offer extra support to patients.

The Hospice set up its own dedicated dementia service in 2019, with Admiral Nurse Debbie Callow appointed as lead.

Paul Dale and Debbie Callow, the East Cheshire Hospice dementia team.

The illness affects 5,730 people over the age of 65 in Cheshire East, according to the NHS.

The region has a higher percentage of elderly people than anywhere in the country – 18 per cent compared to 16 elsewhere.

Covid delayed Hospice plans to expand dementia care, but with services back to normal it is now hoping to build on them.


Debbie said: “We’ve many ideas how we can expand and help even more people, subject to funding.

“These include taking our services out into communities and making them more accessible, so people don’t always have to come to the Hospice.”

Growing demand for Hospice dementia services illustrates the scale of the problem, explaining why the charity wants to do more.

Debbie said: “People are living longer so there’s more likelihood of developing dementia, although you can still get it when you’re younger.

“Awareness is improving and people are more willing to go to the doctors. Medical advances mean there are now cures for some other illnesses, but sadly not yet for dementia.

“Dementia is playing catch up compared to cancer, with care about 20 years behind cancer care in terms of research and support.”

The Hospice has the country’s senior expert on dementia, Professor Alistair Burns CBE, as a Patron. Prof Burns, formerly of Macclesfield, is the National Clinical Director for Dementia and Older People’s Mental Health at NHS England and NHS Improvement.

Hospice patron Professor Alistair Burns CBE.

Debbie said: “I know Prof Burns was quite impressed when he first came on board with what we were already doing.

“In terms of hospice care for dementia, I do feel like East Cheshire is leading the way and having someone at such a high level has helped give us a push.”

Paul has spent more than three decades working in mental health care, mostly in East Cheshire.

He said: “I referred patients to the Hospice in my previous role, so was already aware of its programmes and services.