January 2023 - East Cheshire Hospice

Bumper Challenge round up 2022

A trek through the Sahara Desert rounded off a memorable year of challenges undertaken by East Cheshire Hospice supporters.

A bumper £183,000 was raised during the year from the tireless efforts of hundreds of dedicated volunteers.

A 20-strong group went to Morocco to sleep under the stars and scale sand dunes in scorching temperatures.

Sahara trekkers (from left) Ellie Heaton, Rob Gorton, Jo Helm, Dave Helm, Alison Brammer, Loz Broome.

Among them was Hospice Challenge Events co-ordinator Bethan Wade. She said: “Our Challenge series had its best year yet in 2022.

“After coming out of Covid, we had such a good year with fundraisers undertaking all sorts of crazy challenges.

“We had wing walks, head shaves, fire walks, marathons and much more. We appreciate times are tough, so everyone’s continued support doesn’t go unnoticed.

“Every penny donated goes towards the vital care we provide at our Hospice and out in the community.”

A fire walk and ice walk is planned for 2023 and other fun events will be announced shortly. A skydive in May is already fully subscribed.

The deadline for a Camino Trail adventure in northern Spain in October has passed, but walkers wishing to go can contact Bethan to check any late availability. Email bwade@echospice.org.uk.

Many individuals tackle challenges single-handedly like nine-year-old James Hurley who completed 50 circuits of White Nancy dressed as Star Wars character Kylo Ren, raising more than £300.

James Hurley during his White Nancy challenge.

Bethan said: “It’s amazing what people do to help us and if they want any advice on ideas for challenges please contact us on 01625 433477.”

A focus on Born Survivor 2023

HR and recruitment specialist Andrea Mason is ready to go through the pain barrier again for East Cheshire Hospice.

Andrea is tackling Born Survivor, a gruelling obstacle course at Capesthorne Hall on Saturday, April 22.

Work colleagues at Leap29 will also attempt the challenge, as will her partner Jason Lowe.

Jason is partner at Equilibrium Financial Planning, where staff are also gearing up to face the course designed by Royal Marine commandos.

Andrea Mason after last year’s Born Survivor.

Andrea, from Macclesfield, has personal as well as professional reasons for supporting the Hospice.

Her late grandfather Alfie Pimblott was a patient at the Hospice many years ago.

Her best friend from school, Yvonne Costello-Hellerstein, is the goddaughter of Margaret Lillis, the Hospice chaplain who died last year.

Andrea and Yvonne honoured Margaret’s memory at the Hospice’s Winter Ball in November.

Andrea is Head of HR and Talent at recruitment firm Leap 29, a Hospice corporate supporter, along with Equilibrium.

Andrea said: “We’re quite an active workforce and people in our business love this sort of challenge. It allows us to all work together as a team. It’s not just a fundraising event, it’s fantastic for team building and employee engagement.

“Our people love coming together to raise money for the hospice and Born Survivor is the perfect way to raise funds and have fun with your colleagues.

“A group of us did Born Survivor last year and it was tough. I only did the 5k course, whereas this time I want to challenge myself even further so have opted for the 10k circuit with 30 obstacles.

Andrea Mason and colleagues celebrate completing Born Survivor.

“By taking on a harder challenge this year, I hope to raise even more for the hospice and the incredible work they do.

“Staff decided to support the Hospice a few years ago. Leap 29 try to encourage charitable giving and everyone has a day off each year, either to volunteer or do an event like Born Survivor.

“We also have a dedicated culture team who think of new ideas for charitable events and how we can support the Hospice.”

Jason with wife Andrea and daughter Sacha.

Jason is climbing Mount Kilimanjaro next month to raise funds for the Hospice.

Meanwhile, Yvonne is undertaking the Camino Trail in northern Spain in October as part of a Hospice trip. The five-day trek covers 115  kilometres.

Entry to Born Survivor is £50 and to sign up visit the Hospice website eastcheshirehospice.org.uk. There are 5k or 10 options and entrants must be at least 16.

* To support Andrea and her colleagues visit justgiving.com/teams/Leap29ECH

Pete Chapman’s Christmas Tree Collection milestone

Volunteer Pete Chapman reached a special milestone with the latest tree collection.

It marked 25 years since Pete and wife Heather first picked up a discarded Christmas tree, starting an incredible fundraising journey.

Their dedication was recognised with a presentation by Hospice Chief Executive Karyn Johnston after the latest collection.

Pete’s family began collecting trees for charity in 1999. Two years later they decided to donate funds to East Cheshire Hospice, a kind gesture which led to a relationship still going strong today.

Pete Chapman, Karyn Johnston and Richard Raymond

The initial idea came when Heather suggested collecting trees to help buy a new organ at Prestbury Church where son Andy, then 15, sang in the choir.

Each chorister was given £10 as an incentive. The family trailer was used to pick up trees and the couple realised the fundraising potential.

Pete said: “We used the £10 note to pay for petrol to collect trees from the neighbours and raised £600 for two charities. Everyone said it was a brilliant idea and asked if we’d do it again.

“We’ve been amazed by the scheme’s success over the years. It’s been beyond our wildest dreams and has inspired dozens of similar collections around the country.”

Christmas Tree Collection 2023 success!

Wind and rain did not deter volunteers who turned the East Cheshire Hospice tree collection into another major triumph.

More than 6,000 trees were collected last weekend in what is believed to be the largest scheme of its kind in the world.

Around £150,000 was raised as more than 250 volunteers staged a military-style operation to collect Christmas trees in a fleet of vans.

Volunteers ready to start the Christmas tree collection.

Richard Raymond, co-founder of the scheme, said: “What another amazing effort! Every year we are so lucky to get such an incredible response to our appeal from the public.

“That support comes from dedicated volunteers who always answer our call for help and those who continue to make generous donations.

“This year has been particularly hard due to the cost of living crisis, yet we still managed to raise as much as we have done in the last few years.

Helping hands… catering volunteers (from left) Sunflower Wellbeing Centre manager Helen Henshaw, Clinical Director Sandra Jones, Medical Director Dr Debbie Alexander and Trustee Louise Haughton.

“We have a long list of sponsors as well, led by AstraZenaca, who loyally stick by us and we must say a special thank you to them.”

The scheme has raised a staggering £1.65m in 23 years.

Volunteers over the two days included Hospice staff and workers at the Ansa recycling plant in West Park.

Christmas tree scheme co-founders Richard Raymond (left) and Pete Chapman.

A mulching machine operated by CRJ Recycling, from Allostock, turned trees into compost, complying with the Hospice’s on-going eco initiatives.

Two traditions returned after a Covid-enforced absence.

The Mulchers Arms, a makeshift canteen for refreshments, reopened at the recycling plant, while a post-event drink at the Cock and Pheasant pub in Bollington also made a welcome return.

Tree collectors (from left) Tony Browne, Spike Elliott and wife Helen.

Volunteers taking part included Harry Whittaker, whose dad Clive played a key role in the route planning for collection vans, using sophisticated software.

Early starters on collection rounds were husband and wife Spike and Helen Elliott, from Broken Cross, whose crew included Tony Browne, from Macclesfield. The trio are all regulars on the volunteering front.

Ansa depot recyclers playing their part in the tree collection scheme.

Volunteer Harry Whittaker collects the first tree from East Cheshire Hospice.

Festive surprise at East Cheshire Hospice

Patients at East Cheshire Hospice woke up to a festive surprise thanks to the Hospice’s supporters.

Specially made mugs were given to ward patients on Christmas morning to help brighten up their day.

The gifts featured the Hospice sunflower emblem as a bobble hat on a robin on one side, the other having the logo on top of a tree.

The mugs were designed by Jayne Hadfield, from Jola Designs, and printed by Rossendale Trust, which provides supported living for adults with learning and physical disabilities.

Both companies are keen supporters of the Hospice and provided their services free of charge.

Any costs were met by What Women Want, five female long-standing fundraisers for the Hospice.

The group includes Jill Harding, a health care assistant and one of the nursing staff working the overnight shift at Christmas.

Ray Naden shows off the festive mugs given to patients.

Jill said: “It’s a lovely shift to work and we try to make the occasion as nice and cheery as we can for our patients. We had seven inpatients this year.

“Patients could have up to three family members joining them for Christmas dinner, which was served on tables in the ward and side rooms, along with wine and Prosecco.

“We’d like to thank our supporters for the mugs. We also had trees round the Hospice, with presents for visitors and children which had kindly been donated.”

Among the team on duty was health care assistant Ray Naden, who was worked at the Hospice for 17 years.

Packhorse Bowling Club celebrates success

Raise a toast to Barry and Lucy Street, stalwarts of the Packhorse Bowling and Social Club in Macclesfield.

The father and daughter have been the inspiration behind a major fundraising drive which has seen £37,446 raised for East Cheshire Hospice over the last two decades.

Barry retired as steward two years ago after almost 12 years in the job, but still drinks there regularly.

His association with the Packhorse goes back much longer than that.

From left, Dean Holmes, Barry and Lucy Street and Hospice corporate fundraiser Lisa Ball at the Packhorse Bowling and Social Club.

He used to play for the club’s football team and is still an active bowler, as well as calling the bingo on the last Sunday of every month.

Lucy has been collecting glasses since she was a toddler and still works behind the bar and helps in the kitchen.

Dean Holmes took over as manager when Barry stepped down and is now continuing the club’s traditions – and its long-standing support for the Hospice.

Dean said: “The club is in their blood. Barry and Lucy have been fantastic servants of the Packhorse.

“The fact so much has been raised for the Hospice is down to their dedication and the support of users of the club.

“I’m very much the newcomer, having only taken over in December 2020.  I was a member before and decided to try running the club.

“It’s a gem in Bollinbrook and really well supported. You don’t need to be a member to come in for a drink.

“We’ve a great reputation for functions, which always do well. The club is ideal for anyone looking for a venue for an event.”

Dean ran Silk Events, a mobile DJ set-up, until Covid struck.

The Packhorse donate to the Hospice from football cards sold at the bar, which is open from 6 pm weekdays and noon at weekends.

The club hosts live acts on the final Saturday each month and is a popular haunt for pub games like darts, pool and snooker.

Dean said: “I’ve always wanted to run a venue like this. I know a lot of people round here, so it’s perfect for me. We have race and quiz nights as well and I still get chance to do some DJ work every now and then.

“We’re hoping to organise more events for the Hospice. We’ll always make time for such a wonderful charity.”

Sarah Dale Awarded British Empire Medal

Sarah Dale BEM, Quality and Innovation Director, East Cheshire Hospice


East Cheshire Hospice Director and nurse, Sarah Dale, has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the King’s New Year Honours list for services to palliative and end of life care.

Sarah, from Macclesfield, has played a significant role in the development of the Hospice over the past 17 years, experience that she put to good use by creating a Hospice @Home service which proved indispensable during the pandemic.

Starting as a hospice nurse back in 2005, Sarah’s dedication and endless reserves of compassion made her a perfect fit for work in palliative and end of life care. As she rose through the clinical grades, she gained insights from patients and family members which would help inform her practice as a leader and her skill in developing high quality, highly effective services for the people of Cheshire and beyond.

Promoted to Director of Quality and Innovation in 2017, Sarah continues to work tirelessly to ensure people at end of life get the best possible care, not just for the communities in northeast Cheshire but nationwide, as she supports other hospices to develop their care services. Knowing how tight budgets are for charities and the NHS, Sarah was undaunted by the prospect of having to help raise the money to get services off the ground. This meant a hike up the Himalayas with a stint helping out at an end of life facility in Kathmandu.

Her work recently has been to champion equality, diversity and inclusion in end of life care to guarantee that no one is excluded from accessing the services they need when and where they need them.

Sarah is married to Paul, a Mental Health Nurse, and they have two grown up daughters as well as a host of pets to look after. An accomplished cook, host and cake maker, Sarah’s creations have lit up many joyful gatherings at home and at the Hospice.

On hearing the news of the honour, Sarah said:

“I was shocked when I opened the mail from the Cabinet Office; to be honest I thought it might be a hoax. Once it sank in, I realised what a privilege it is to receive this award and I feel honoured that the work my colleagues and I have done to improve palliative care services for patients and families in east Cheshire has received such recognition.

“I’m always delighted for any opportunity to shine a light on the important work being carried out at the Hospice and my hope is that we can share learning and service models with our friends in our local healthcare system as well as other hospices so the work we are doing can have an even wider impact.”

Karyn Johnston, East Cheshire Hospice Chief Executive, said:

“I can’t think of anyone more deserving of such recognition than Sarah. She has given her all in the service of people facing the toughest challenge of their life, as well as to her colleagues, friends and family. We who have the privilege of working with her every day know how truly fortunate we are.

“What she has achieved for end of life patients and families in east Cheshire, as well as within the other hospices she supports, proves her commitment to making quality compassionate community care available to everyone who needs it.”

Volunteers at Christmas Tree Collection

Volunteers Rob and Marion BoSmith have a unique claim to fame in the long history of collecting trees in aid of East Cheshire Hospice.

The Bollington couple picked up a symbolic tree that saw the fundraising scheme smash through the £1m barrier in 2019.

They only discovered their historic role in the tree collection scheme when they returned to the recycling plant at West Park late one afternoon.

Rob said: “We drove back to the plant and the first thing we knew was when everyone started screaming and shouting. Photographs were taken as champagne was sprayed over the van.

“It was pure coincidence that we happened to be the people who collected the tree which took the total beyond the £1m mark.”

Youngest daughter Astrid with Rob and Marion during the 2017 collection which was re-arranged due to snow. Astrid stood in for sister Imogen who had travelled from London for the original date.

Rob and Marion will be out and about again with fellow volunteers over the weekend of January 14/15 when the next collection takes place.

It is not too late to register. Visit www.echtrees.org.uk.

The couple will be joined by one of their three daughters, Imogen, who has volunteered before.

Rob, a helper for 15 years, will carry his chainsaw and cutters to trim any large trees.

Marion, a more recent recruit, said: “There’s an amazing sense of camaraderie. It’s a pleasure to be involved.

Rob BoSmith, a veteran of the East Cheshire Hospice Christmas tree recycling scheme.

“Everyone bends over backwards to be helpful, including those serving food, the van crews and staff at the Ansa plant who’re wonderful.

“They’re safety conscious and take the trees from us, while braving the elements all day.

“Everyone is buzzing all day as we exchange messages on WhatsApp about how we’re getting along.”

The scheme has raised more than £1.5m in 22 years. 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.

Rob said: “We’ve been to all sorts of places. Despite living here for 42  years, we’re still discovering places we never knew existed. Everyone is so helpful if we can’t find a particular house.”

The couple met at the Wellcome Research Laboratories in Kent before moving to Bollington, running a corner shop attached to their home for eight years.

They both worked at AstraZeneca, Rob leaving to teach IT at Macclesfield College.

Marion said: “It didn’t take us long to get over any homesickness. It’s much nicer up here, where we’re part of a lovely community.”

Winter Ball Success

A glittering night had even more sparkle for a lucky guest who won a diamond pendant.

The star prize worth £15,000 went to an anonymous diner at a Winter Ball organised by the Hospice.

The black-tie event, held in a special marquee in the grounds of Macclesfield Rugby Club, raised more than £35,000 for the charity.

Guests at the Winter Ball, in aid of East Cheshire Hospice.  

The luxurious one-carat diamond was donated by Greeba, Michael and David Jones from PR Jones Jewellers, long-standing supporters of the Hospice.

The ball made a long-awaited return to the social calendar after a four-year absence.

Organiser Beth Candy, who is Events Manager at the Hospice, said: “We had a terrific night and want to say a special thank you to all those who attended and helped us raise such a wonderful amount for the Hospice.

“Thank you also to the Jones family for the generous donation of the diamond pendant, which was won by one of our loyal supporters.

“The venue was ideal and the rugby club were perfect hosts. We appreciate their support which meant we could stage the event virtually round the corner from the Hospice.”

Ventriloquist Jamie Leahey, runner-up on ITV show Britain’s Got Talent, entertained the audience with his cheeky chicken Chuck.

String Infusion, an all-female electric and acoustic string group, were also a hit. The event was sponsored by Superbowl UK and hosted by Mike Toolan.

Ventriloquist Jamie Leahey and Chuck with guests.

Navajo Statement

In October 2022 East Cheshire Hospice was awarded the Navajo Charter Mark.

The Navajo Charter Mark is an equality mark supported by LGBTIQA+ Community networks across Merseyside. It is a signifier of good practice, commitment and knowledge of the specific needs, issues and barriers facing LGBTIQA+ people.

How did we achieve this?

To be awarded the Navajo Charter Mark, an organisation must successfully pass a two stage assessment process.

First, East Cheshire Hospice needed to submit an initial written application and action plan. This application process was designed to assess how accessible and friendly our organisation is across five distinct elements:

  • Practices and Policies
  • Training
  • Staff Recruitment & Engagement
  • Monitoring
  • Service Users and LGBT Engagement

Once the application, action plan and evidence were reviewed by the Navajo assessors, we were informed we were successfully moving onto stage two of the application process.

Stage two of the process included a day-long assessment whereby eleven members of our staff were interviewed by the Navajo assessing panel. Staff from various teams, in a variety of roles from across the organisation were interviewed.

Once the Charter Mark has be awarded, the Navajo team reassesses each organisation two years later to ensure the positive work they are doing is continued and meaningful.

What does this mean for the Hospice?

Achieving the Charter Mark means that East Cheshire Hospice has demonstrated that we:-

  • Identify innovative new ways of working to meet the needs of LGBTQ+ people.
  • Promote best practice in engaging with the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Understand the importance of and are active in ensuring staff are trained and confident in tackling the barriers LGBTQ+ people may face accessing services.
  • Recognise and work hard to address the difficulties that our organisation may face in addressing the needs of the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Raise awareness among staff with regard to the particular issues that affect LGBTQ+ people in accessing our services.
  • Raise awareness of the particular issues in addressing the needs of our LGBTQ+ employees through good management practice

The hard work is not over yet. East Cheshire Hospice will continue to be active in taking positive steps to remove barriers to care for LGBTQ+ people. We will be reassessed by Navajo in 2024.


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