February 2023 - East Cheshire Hospice

Gail and Lawrence Robinson’s volunteering journey

Gardening, baking cakes, singing, flower arranging and moving furniture…all to help East Cheshire Hospice.

That is a typical week for volunteers Lawrence and Gail Robinson whose vocation in life is to help others.

The Macclesfield couple are continuing a family tradition.

Lawrence, a retired solicitor, said: “It’s inbred and we’re carrying on from how our parents lived their lives.

“They were very involved in the community and that’s how we see life, helping others, or doing things for them.”

Wife Gail will garden at the Hospice every Wednesday from March 1, as part of the 12-strong group who have already been out planting snowdrops in the new courtyard.

Gail is also a stand-by flower arranger, bakes cakes for coffee mornings and sings in Claritas Choir, which supports the Hospice.

Their next concert is at Packhorse Bowling Club on March 23.

Gail Robinson (second right) with fellow volunteer gardeners in 2021. From left, Mark Reddiough, Pat Dawson, Nev Wardle, Gail and Lindsay Taylor.

Gail also encourages visitors to buy Hospice items at the library charity card shop, while volunteering for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and The Children’s Society at Christmas.

She is a church warden at St John the Evangelist Church, where Lawrence is treasurer and ‘general dogsbody.’ Gail is also a governor at St John’s School.

Gail said: “It’s a full week, especially as I look after my elderly mother and I’m also a guider and advise on diversity and inclusion for Cheshire Border Girlguides.

“We’ve a Brownie and Rainbow arts day coming up and have a deaf Brownie, so I’ll go along and make sure her provision is sufficient.

“I’m also a signer. I was Lay Chaplain for Deaf and Disabled People in Chester Diocese for 18 years, signing at weddings, baptisms, funerals and regular communion services. I also advised churches on accessibility.”

Meanwhile, Lawrence drives furniture vans. He said: “We volunteer to support the work of the Hospice. We’re fortunate we’ve never had a close relative in need of its services, but we’ve lost several friends whose families really appreciated the care.”

Their daughter Nancy was born with arthrogryposis, a rare muscle disorder, though Gail’s interest in disability began as a schoolgirl.

She lived near Seashell Trust, in Cheadle Hulme, when it was a school for the Deaf.

She said: “That got me interested in signing. I wanted to communicate with the kids on swings in the park.

“I learned to finger spell in the brownies and that started my interest in communication with the Deaf.”

* If you are interested in donating a small amount of time to support the Hospice visit www.eastcheshirehospice.org.uk/volunteer-with-us/ to find out more.

Furniture Round

Carrying furniture and old Christmas trees is essentially Lawrence Robinson’s voluntary role for East Cheshire Hospice.

He is out and about every Saturday on the van run doing the rounds delivering and collecting sofas, settees, tables and chairs. He also fills in on odd weekdays.

The charity generates around £10,000 a month selling recycled furniture donated by the public.

Gail and Lawrence Robinson (right) with fellow furniture volunteer John Butler.

Lawrence said: “It’s hard work, but great fun. Sometimes there’s heavy lifting, so you need to be reasonably fit.

“There’s always two of us and we make every effort to put furniture where people want it in the home.

“We get a job sheet telling us where to go. We either collect furniture donated from homes, or deliver bought items to them.

“We average about five trips a day, and today, for example we’ll pick up a table and chairs from the Poynton shop and take them to Ashton-under-Lyne.

“People appreciate what we do and all the funds raised go to the care of patients.”

He joined the Hospice through his church connections with Richard Raymond, co-founder of the charity’s Christmas tree collection scheme.

Once on the tree team, Lawrence answered a call for furniture volunteers almost three years ago.

He said: “As usual, the tree collection was a lot of fellowship and fun this year. We just try to do our best for people out there who want to support the Hospice.”

* To donate furniture call co-ordinator Toni Walsh on 07917 942273 or email furniture@echospice.org.uk.

Camino Trail Tribute

Close friends of East Cheshire Hospice’s late chaplain Margaret Lillis will undertake a poignant walk in her memory.

Old school pal Bridget Fenwick will be joined daughters Clare and Yvonne and son-in-law Ori for a trek along the Camino Trail in northern Spain.

The family aim to raise £10,500 from the 115-kilometre walk from October 14-21, a trip organised by the Hospice.

Margaret Lillis with Bridget and her daughters (from left) Clare, Yvonne and Anne-Marie.

Margaret, who died last May, was godmother to Yvonne and taught her when she was deputy head at St Edward’s Catholic Primary School in Macclesfield.

Yvonne said: “Mum and Margaret were best friends at school in London. She was a fun teacher and loved the guitar and singing.

“She adored the Hospice and took our son George on days off to give biscuits to the nurses.

“She was cared for by the Hospice and they were just incredible. It’s a spiritual walk and Margaret was a spiritual person, so it’s appropriate this is in her memory.

George Costello with Margaret Lillis.

“The route looks beautiful, but we’re slightly scared because of the training we’ve got to do. We walk our dogs, but that’s about it.”

The family are holding a fundraising ceilidh at Mottram St Andrew village hall on April 15. Everyone welcome and for tickets visit bookceilidh.eventbrite.com.

Margaret Lillis and goddaughter Yvonne Costello.

Musicians who performed at Margaret’s 70th birthday party five years ago at the same venue are making a return appearance.

Silent auction prizes include a kit worth £1,000 to convert a cycle to an electric bike.

* To donate visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/thecamino4

Yvonne Costello and husband Ori Hellerstein who are walking the Camino Trail.

Singing Together’s new venue!

Singing and dancing is putting a spring in the step of dementia patients at East Cheshire Hospice.

Live monthly musical entertainment at Broken Cross Club is the perfect remedy for them.

Classes had to move from the Hospice’s Sunflower Wellbeing Centre due to their popularity.

Around 50 Singing Together members meet between 10.30 am and noon on the first Friday of each month.

From left, singer Tony Boyle with volunteers Ann Marriott, Tessa Hughes and Tracey O’Keefe and Hospice staff Debbie Callow and Paul Dale.

They enjoy a musical trip down memory lane, while entertained by singer and guitarist Tony Boyle.

The sessions are run by Admiral Nurse Debbie Callow and dementia nurse Paul Dale, a committee member at Broken Cross.

Debbie said: “We’d outgrown the Hospice premises and had reached the point where we were going to have to start turning people away. We didn’t want to do that so looked for an alternative venue.

“The club have been brilliant and we can’t thank the manager Linda Longden enough.

Enjoying the spotlight….dancers Richard and Rosemary Yorke.

“We have a proper dance floor. One wheelchair user couldn’t really join in before on the carpet at the Hospice and had difficulty moving around easily.

“Now her carer spins her round the dance floor and she’s joining in which is lovely to see.

“Patients don’t necessarily have to dance and the sessions definitely have a positive impact on people.

“Some might not communicate as much, but if the right song comes on it just triggers something and suddenly they’re up dancing.

“A lady came last month for the first time and her daughter had to plead with her to get out of the car to come in. She didn’t want to do it, but by the end had made lots of friends and told us how much she loved it and asked if she could return.

Strutting their stuff…the Singing Together group get into the groove. 

“Someone may be losing their ability to have a conversation and forget certain words, yet put a song on and they can remember all the words.

“The brain remembers anything with rhythm differently to everyday language. Singing helps trigger memories.”

Patients need a dementia diagnoses to attend. Contact 01625 666990 for more details from the Hospice.

Linda has worked at Broken Cross for more than 20 years, the last 14 as manager.

She said: “We’re delighted to hire out the room free of charge to the Hospice, as we do for all fundraising events held in aid of the charity. Our members are always keen to help such a wonderful local cause.”

AstraZeneca supports East Cheshire Hospice

Staff at AstraZeneca continue to go to extraordinary lengths to support East Cheshire Hospice.

More than 250 of their employees raised £19,000 last year for the charity, with £15,000 of the total match funded by the company.

AZ also gave £3,000 to support Art Fair Cheshire and contributed the same amount to cover the cost of petrol and vans for the Christmas tree collection.

 AstraZeneca and Hospice staff at Art Fair 2022. From left, Kirrie Todd, Sophie Simpson, Rachel Allcock, Guy Camm, Dave Ennis, Lisa Ball, Karyn Johnston and Paula Postlethwaite.

AZ and its staff have donated £40,174 to the Hospice over a 12-month period.

Further good news for the charity is that AZ employees will retain the Hospice as a nominated charity for the next two years.

Hospice corporate fundraiser Lisa Ball said: “Yet again AZ and its staff have shown unbelievable support for the Hospice and we thank them for their kind generosity.

“AZ was a founding funder of the Hospice and we still have an amazing relationship with the company.”

Paula Postlethwaite and chef Karl Griffiths, from AZ caterers Sodexo, delivered a tasty hot pot lunch to Christmas tree volunteers.

Sophie Simpson, from ClubAZ, has also helped staff fulfil personal challenges, including fundraising during STEPtember. AZ also held several markets.

Guy Camm,  AZ’s Macclesfield Campus FM Development Manager, said: “We’re proud of our long-standing partnership with the Hospice and, of course, our staff who rallied to the cause in fantastic style in 2022.

“I’m sure that dedication will continue in 2023 through our support for several local charities, including the Hospice”

AstraZeneca representatives (from left) Paula Postlethwaite, Sophie Simpson and Guy Camm with Hospice staff Lisa Ball, Karyn Johnston and Rachel Allcock.

Bargain hunters are helping East Cheshire Hospice

Bargain hunters are helping East Cheshire Hospice translate commercial success into vital care for patients.

The four shops run by the charity, at Chestergate and Thornton Square in Macclesfield and in Poynton and Handforth, bring in more than £50,000 a month.

About half of that revenue is profit which goes directly towards looking after patients, either at the Hospice or via Hospice @Home.

Around £10,000 a month is generated from selling recycled furniture donated by the public. Smaller antique items are sold at the Chestergate shop, with larger goods on display at the other outlets.

A lot of stock is sold via the shops’ Facebook sites and the Hospice thanks supporters who both donate and buy.

Hospice commercial manager Louise Delany said: “Without the income from our shops, we wouldn’t be able to provide the same care for patients, their families and carers.

“The Chestergate shop, which opened last May, is thriving. In fact, we are lucky enough to receive very good donations at all our shops which helps us generate a regular and sustainable income for the Hospice.”

Lindsay McDonald, manager of the new East Cheshire Hospice shop on Chestergate.

The Hospice has a new hotline for furniture co-ordinator Toni Walsh, so that donors can contact her directly to arrange for furniture to be collected. Her number is 07917 942273 or you can email furniture@echospice.org.uk.

Louise added: “Furniture is always a good seller. Last week we sold a high-end sofa for £1,000, but the shops are also a great way to pick up quality bargain pieces too. We do ask that items must be clean with no scratches, unless of antique value.

“Our staff are so enthusiastic. Whether they’re selling furniture, handbags or clothing you can rest assured they’re going to work hard to get the right price for it, to help the Hospice as much as we can.”

Joanne Griffiths has just started as an assistant manager, with Louise Anderson taking up a similar role this month.

The shops generated £60,000 from new surplus rugs donated last winter. They have also been known to receive new stock by top designer brands like Gucci, Barbour and Yves Saint Laurent.

Louise said: “We can’t guarantee these donations, but occasionally when they happen it helps enormously. We’re so grateful to all our donors but of course it’s really exciting when we receive something extra special.”

Although all donations are appreciated, the Hospice requests that they are not left outside shops when closed as they can be damaged. For example, a number of quality woollen jumpers were ruined recently after being left in a bag in the rain.

Reverend Dr Marion Tugwood joins East Cheshire Hospice

The new chaplain at East Cheshire Hospice is no stranger to the charity.

Reverend Dr Marion Tugwood was a regular visitor to the Hospice in her role as minister at Macclesfield United Reformed Church.

Marion spent 10 years with the church and often provided pastoral care for patients at end-of-life and their loved ones.

Her first official duty in her new role was the Light Up a Life service at St Michael and All Angels Church in December.

She said: “The service took place two days after I started so I was thrown in at the deep end, but it went well and people seemed to value the time to reflect on the life of their loved one. The church was full for this moving occasion.

Reverend Dr Marion Tugwood, the new chaplain at East Cheshire Hospice.

“My brief is to look after the whole Hospice, so I’m here for volunteers, staff as well as obviously patients and their relatives.”

From 2018, Marion held a wider role assisting 12 churches, including Macclesfield, as part of a Missional Partnership for the United Reformed Church.

She said: “The role involved training and equipping churches to be more self-sufficient without relying on a single minister.

“It was about building skills and increasing people’s ability to evangelise and to work with their own communities.”

“My chaplaincy work is similar to what I did before as I’m using my worship leading skills. But in other ways it’s different as there is greater emphasis on pastoral care.

“I’m getting to know families, patient and staff and am delighted to be part of a charity which is so highly regarded in east Cheshire and beyond.”

“The atmosphere here is calm and peaceful. People aren’t rushed in the way they are in some other care settings.”

For the last seven years Marion has helped run 15th Macclesfield Sea Scouts Group.

She was a founder of the Street Angels project in Macclesfield, a church initiative set up 12 years ago.

She said: “The job of Street Angels is to bring calm. We’re out on Saturdays between 10.30 pm and 3 am and pick up people who’ve fallen over. We also give out flip flops and bottles of water to people who may be the worse for wear.

“We’re not the police and not the council and just hang out and interact with people enjoying themselves and having a good time.”

To find out more about chaplaincy and view upcoming services, events and news, please go to www.eastcheshirehospice.org.uk/spiritual-support.

Starlight Walk is back for 2023

Spring will soon be in the air which means the countdown is under way for the Starlight Walk.

The popular event, organised by East Cheshire Hospice, is back at Capesthorne Hall this year.

It will be staged on Thursday, April 27, at 6 pm in the picturesque grounds of the estate. The walk starts at 7 pm.

It is four years since Capesthorne last staged the walk in memory of loved ones. The event was at Adlington Hall last year after a Covid break.

Walkers at Adlington Hall in 2022.

An Early Bird offer of £17.50 for adults and £12.50 for children (up to 16) is available before February 23. Prices are then £20 and £15.

The dusk-time woodland walk, sponsored by Ford dealers Sidney Jackson, is over a 2.5km loop featuring atmospheric lighting and fire pits.

Walkers can complete the course multiple times. The last set off time is 8.30 pm, with the event closing at 10 pm.

The walk the last time it was held at Capesthorne Hall in 2019.

Entry only covers the event cost, so organisers are asking walkers to raise at least £50 in sponsorship, or make a £50 donation to the Hospice when registering.

Events Manager Beth Candy said: “Walkers are encouraged to raise funds for the Hospice to help fund the care of patients both now and in the future.

“We’ll have live entertainment, food and drink stalls including alcohol, and each walker receives a wooden medal. The whole family is welcome to this moving and uplifting evening of remembrance.”

Registration is now open via the Hospice website.