November 2023 - East Cheshire Hospice

A host of happy memories on Trek Camino

Walker Lorna Barratt was left with wet boots and blisters and a host of happy memories from her Spanish pilgrimage.

She was part of an 18-strong party from East Cheshire Hospice which raised more than £70,000 from a five-day trek along the famous Camino Trail.

Every step was made in heavy rain with flooding near the finish in Santiago de Compostela, but it did not deter the plucky fundraisers.

Lorna, from Macclesfield, has close links with the Hospice, having spent more than four years there as a palliative care social worker.

After retiring last year, she now volunteers at the monthly MND Wellbeing Days.

Lorna said: “I loved the social work role and only stopped because my own mum Elizabeth was poorly and needed end-of-life care herself. I worked with the multi-disciplinary team identifying families who needed support.”

She volunteered for the trip after seeing an advert in the Hospice reception.

* Lorna Barrett on the Camino Trail.

She said: “Everyone was walking in memory of someone the Hospice had cared for and our group formed a supportive and close bond.

“It was very wet with torrential rain on the last day and the flooding was all over the news.

“We all had to dig deep walking an average of 15 miles a day, but it was a special trip and quite spiritual for many of us.

“We picked up donations along the way, including airport check-in staff and the lady exchanging currency. The outpouring of support for the Hospice is incredible and so heartening.”

Lorna’s walk was in memory of fireman Barry Axon, a close friend who was cared for in the Hospice.

She said: “Barry was well cared for, as were his family. The Hospice put its arms around the family as it does for all families in their care.

Walkers on their trek through northern Spain.

“Barry was a big walker and this was something he’d have done. He also had great faith, a pilgrimage in memory of Barry was a privilege.

“The MND group which meets on the fourth Friday of the month were also in my thoughts and indeed many contributed to my fundraising. Despite the sadness of a diagnosis of MND, there’s a lot of joy within that day.

“It’s like a one-stop shop of support and information with outside speakers offering advice. Patients and carers also get a lot of support from each other.”

* To donate to the Camino fund visit

Remember someone special and get into the Christmas spirit at a Light Up A Life service

Remember someone special and get into the Christmas spirit at a Light Up A Life service on Saturday, December 2, starting at 4 pm.

The half-hour service organised by East Cheshire Hospice is held at the United Reformed Church, Macclesfield.

Tickets are not required and afterwards attendees can browse stalls selling festive items and handmade goods while enjoying a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine.

Hospice supporter Georgia Leah and daughter Ruby beside the Tree of Memories.

The service, which includes a short address from Hospice Chief Executive Karyn Johnston, is conducted by Chaplain Marion Tugwood who joined the Hospice a year ago.

A traditional Tree of Memories will shine brightly in the Hospice Chapel again this year.

Supporters are invited to dedicate a bauble to remember someone special and donate to the Hospice.

Amy Williams, the Hospice’s Family and Friends Fundraising Co-ordinator said: “The service of remembrance is a beautiful way to join together to remember those who mean the most.

“We’re hoping people will stay with us afterwards to get into the spirit of Christmas with the opportunity to buy goods to support the Hospice.

“The personalised baubles are also a way of remembering. Donations help us to continue to care and support patients, not just at Christmas but whenever they need it most.”

* To dedicate a bauble email or call 01625 665688 or visit

A successful Firewalk story

Greeting visitors with a warm smile comes naturally to Anne Brander and Julie Mills as volunteers on reception at East Cheshire Hospice.

But stepping over hot coals for the same good cause was well out of their comfort zone.

The friends braved a Fire Walk along with other fundraisers at Macclesfield Rugby Club, with some also tackling an Ice Walk over broken glass.

The pair settled just for the challenge of the burning embers and for Anne the Hospice has a special place in her heart.

Late husband Angus was a patient there in 1996. He was just 42 when he died from lung cancer.

Ready to face the fire … fundraisers get a warm reception.

Anne said: “The Fire Walk was something I wanted to do for the Hospice. Angus loved it there and it was the right place for him in his final days.

“They looked after the whole family, including our daughters Clare and Alison who were 16 and 10 at the time.

“He was peaceful and comfortable there and all these years later it’s nice to see how the Hospice has grown and how things have moved on and developed.

“Working on reception is varied meeting all sorts of people. You’re the first point of contact and it’s important you have a welcoming smiley face.

Volunteers Anne Brander (left) and Julie Mills at the Fire Walk. 

“I felt a great sense of achievement doing the Fire Walk. There was a great atmosphere with everyone cheering each other on and I was proud to be part of it.

“I was slightly nervous and excited but wasn’t scared. It was something I really wanted to do.”

Anne and Julie met through education circles. Anne worked at Wilmslow High School and both attended admissions appeals with Julie employed by Cheshire East Council.

Julie said: “We go back a while and got together and said let’s have a go at the Fire Walk.

“We supported each other and the Hospice and also to prove to ourselves that we can do silly things at our age.

“We’re aware how much it costs to keep the Hospice going and it’s much needed by the community.

“Volunteering is rewarding. I like meeting people and wanted to do something for the community when I retired.

“I was apprehensive but common sense told me it’s mind over matter. Someone won’t ask me to do something when I’m going to get injured. I’m not saying I won’t do the Ice Walk next time.”

Britain in Bloom awards

Volunteer gardeners at East Cheshire Hospice are celebrating after earning an accolade at the Britain in Bloom awards.

East Cheshire Hospice received a certificate in the Hospice category at the RHS regional awards.

Judges made their recommendation after touring the remodelled Hospice grounds.

Some of the volunteer gardeners with their RHS certificate.

The space includes a sensory garden, vegetable and herb patch and a memory garden.

The RHS honour is reward for the hard work from gardening enthusiasts who have painstakingly created a lay-out designed to provide a peaceful retreat for patients and visitors.

Volunteers from corporate supporters also helped with digging and preparing the grounds for planting.

Michelle Walker-Brown, the Hospice general services manager, said: “We’re delighted to receive this recognition at the Britain in Bloom awards.

“Every category is highly competitive so to get this acknowledgement from the RHS is reward for the terrific efforts made by volunteers and staff.

“We place great emphasis on sustainability both indoors and outdoors at the Hospice with energy efficiency vitally important.”

The Hospice is undergoing a renovation of its Sunflower Wellbeing Centre, limiting garden design work in that corner of the site. The work is due to finish in the New Year.

The Hospice uses water butts to reduce reliance on mains supplies; grows fruit and vegetables in empty laundry liquid tubs and uses old tyres from Hospice @Home cars for planters as part of its green initiative.

The Hospice featured in the gold award won by Macclesfield at last year’s RHS awards.

Monika Pollard is always reaching for heights

Playing basketball means Monika Pollard is always reaching for heights.

But climbing to Everest base camp was a different ball game altogether.

Monika, who owns Tiny Adventures children’s day nursery in Macclesfield, was fundraising for East Cheshire Hospice.

The trip was in memory of her mother-in-law Theresa Connolly who died almost 10 years ago, aged 73.

Monika, a keen hiker, had always wanted to undertake an Everest expedition, though her adventure was more eventful than planned.

Monika Pollard on her Everest climb.

She said: “We were supposed to fly to Lukla, the second most dangerous airport in the world, but it was closed due to bad weather.

“Instead, we drove through Nepal in a jeep for more than 24 hours and then slept for barely three hours before a 12-hour walk on the first day.

“It meant we were thrown in at the deep end, adding a further 30 kilometres to our walk which was 140k altogether.

“It took us 10 days to get to base camp where I suffered terrible altitude sickness. So much so I felt like I was drunk.

Mission accomplished … Monika at base camp.

“I was with two other girls and it was so bad that on the way down we got a helicopter ride back to Katmandu.

“The hike was much harder than anticipated. I’m physically fit, but I struggled breathing as the air was so thin.

“No one prepares for you how difficult it is mentally. At first, I said I’d never do it again, but if someone asked me I’d return.

“Walking is not a problem for me. I play basketball and am physically fit.”

Monika is a member of the Macc Town Raiders and Congleton Grizzlies basketball teams.

Monika with fellow climbers.

Team-mates have supported her fundraising which has reached £1,584. Husband Kevin works for the London Stock Exchange which may match fund the total.

Monika, from Slovakia, has also put collection buckets at her two nurseries and the Hospice charity shop at Thornton Square.

She said: “I decided to raise funds for Hospice because we live in Macclesfield and all our friends are here. I had a wonderful relationship with my mother-in-law who was devoted to her four granddaughters.

Monika enjoying the view.

“She was supposed to go into a hospice near her home in Burnley, but didn’t live long enough due to her oesophageal cancer.

“Hospices wouldn’t exist without fundraising and they provide palliative care at the time of greatest need.”

* To donate visit

Festive cards on sale at East Cheshire Hospice

To purchase Christmas cards please visit

East Cheshire Hospice is hoping for another merry Christmas selling festive cards.

The charity raises around £20,000 each year from supporters buying packs of 10 cards for £4 and pocket diaries for £2.

They are available at Hospice shops in Thornton Square and Chestergate in Macclesfield, plus its Handforth and Poynton outlets.

Libraries at Macclesfield and Wilmslow and Knutsford Cinema are also selling them until Saturday Dec 9.

Hospice volunteer Caroline Taylor (left) with commercial manager Louise Delany.

Cards are also available from the Hospice reception, the Hospice website and via leaflets sent to supporters. Postal sales incur an admin charge.

Commercial Manager Louise Delany said: “Our Christmas cards are always big sellers and a great way to support the Hospice.

“They’re excellent quality with nice designs and we’d urge customers to hurry up and buy them as certain designs sell out quickly.”

The Hospice is enjoying another healthy retail year with high demand for items donated by supporters.

Louise said: “The support from customers and donors is amazing. Long may that continue because every pound generated goes directly to the care of patients, their families and carers.

“Staff put in a tremendous amount of hard work, going above and beyond. Social media posts help and our shops are full of a variety of goods, from a £1 rail up to designer wear.

“Furniture is always a good seller and we’d like more if possible. We offer free collection and also carry out house clearances.”

* For further details call 07917 942273 or email

Knutsford recruitment for new Hospice @Home team

New jobs caring for patients nearing the end of life are being created in Knutsford.

A total of 15 health care assistant posts are being advertised by East Cheshire Hospice as part of its Hospice @Home expansion in the town.

The roles are funded by a major donation from husband-and-wife Michael and Jennifer Oliver, whose global business Oliver Valves has its headquarters in Knutsford.

The Hospice has launched a recruitment drive and will offer full training to successful candidates who join its Hospice @Home team. Previous experience in the health care sector is not essential.

The team will be based at Knutsford and District Community Hospital on Bexton Road working alongside GPs and NHS district nurses.

From left, East Cheshire Hospice @Home team members Gill Tomlinson, Tess Cleaver and Joanne Helm.

The Hospice already runs the Hospice @Home service in Knutsford catering for patients primarily in the last three months of life. This new service for patients with a Knutsford GP will extend that period of care and support to 12 months.

Hospice Chief Executive Karyn Johnston said: “This is a much-needed opportunity to help develop palliative care services in Knutsford. Staff will go out into homes to provide practical and compassionate care and support to patients and their families.

“By liaising closely with the NHS, our aim is to help patients to avoid hitting a crisis and having to go to hospital unnecessarily during their final year of life. Our research with the NHS and other local care providers also showed that patients from Knutsford, in particular, are often medically fit to leave hospital but can’t because there are no care at home services available. We can change that.

“This expansion will see more people getting the right care when and where they need it and, if the model is successful, it could be rolled out elsewhere in the areas we serve in East Cheshire. We’re targeting Knutsford as we know the town has unique care availability challenges.”

Anyone interested should apply via Hours are flexible over a seven-day week and pay up to £17.42/hr including weekend bonuses for experienced Health Care Assistants.

Karyn said: “We’re looking for people with some experience of care ideally, though qualifications aren’t necessary. These roles will also appeal to people seeking rewarding work that really makes a difference in the community. As part of our East Cheshire Hospice team, they’ll work in close collaboration with the NHS and other health care agencies.

“We, and the people of Knutsford, are indebted to Dr & Mrs Oliver who share our desire to improve care for patients with life-limiting illnesses in an area where their employees are based. We thank them for their extremely generous support.”

The BIG Quiz Night success

Where is the latest venue to host a quiz in aid of East Cheshire Hospice?

Full marks if the answer is AstraZeneca on Charter Way, Macclesfield, where 34 teams tackled brain teasers set by the charity’s quiz support group.

Quiz experts Waters Green Weavers came out on top, finishing three points clear of their nearest challengers.

Entrants included hosts AZ and other businesses, plus Marlborough Primary School the regular quiz venue.

Quiz 2 – The triumphant Waters Green Weavers team.

Twice as many teams took part due to a bigger capacity at AZ, which has the Hospice as one of its chosen charities.

Co-host Paul Morrissey, an ex-AZ employee and Hospice Vice President, said : “Initially we wondered whether we’d get enough teams to fill the space at AZ, but the fact we got so many teams was amazing and we even had to turn teams away on the morning of the quiz.

“We wanted a bigger venue so we could attract more teams and we succeeded in that.

Quiz teams ready to do battle at AstraZeneca.

“It’s no reflection whatsoever on Marlborough who’re also fantastic hosts. We have around three quizzes a year and our summer event which tends to be less well attended due to holidays makes Marlborough the perfect location.”

The quiz raised £5,000 with the next edition planned for early next year.

Hospice fundraiser Carley Macey said: “The quiz group have been running these fun nights for several years and once again there was a terrific response from supporters. We’d especially like to thank AstraZeneca for their help.”

Hospice @Home nurse, Sarah Mills

Nurse, art teacher, volunteer and grandmother of 12 – life is never dull for Sarah Mills.

That is just how she likes it, juggling her many commitments.

Sarah has just completed 20 years as a bank nurse at East Cheshire Hospice, working an average of a shift a week on the Hospice @Home team.

Sarah Mills with six of her grandchildren.

Sarah, from Bollington, said: “Being a bank nurse means I’m like an extra, but I love it. It’s a brilliant job and allows me to manage my other commitments.

“I can control when I work. It sounds very privileged, but I’m able do lots of other voluntary things as well.

“I’ve been with the Hospice @Home team for about five years. It’s such a privileged job visiting people who want to be at home in their final days and who wouldn’t have had that opportunity before.

“We provide care and support for a family who may never have experienced an end-of-life situation. We can explain what to expect and hopefully, reassure and encourage them.

“We see the person in their entirety, surrounded by loved ones, as well as personal and familiar objects which provide comfort for them.

Sarah Mills enjoying the outdoors with her family.

“I’ve been a bank nurse all my career, including in the NHS. But the Hospice has such a different atmosphere with the time and opportunity to provide more sensitive and emotional care than is possible in the NHS.

“The Hospice has specialists in all areas and regular training provides a good base for all staff.”

Sarah is a member of the church council at St Barnabas and also keeps busy by supporting friends with needs.

She admits she is a better nurse than art teacher, a role she does to help daughter Katy who home educates her six children, the eldest of whom is 14.

“The children come round and we do drawing and painting, art appreciation, sewing and other creative media and have lots of fun. That takes up quite a bit of my time, but I thoroughly enjoy being the art teacher!”

Sarah and husband Cliff, a lawyer with the Co-operative movement, have three sons and two daughters.

Introduction to East Cheshire Hospice’s new Corporate fundraiser

Talented actor Luke Oldham has landed a new role – as corporate fundraiser at East Cheshire Hospice.

He admits he is still learning his lines after only joining the cast at the much-loved charity last month.

Luke will be centre stage liaising with a business community which continues to show huge support for the Hospice.

For example, the charity’s popular 500 Club, in which organisations pledge to raise £500 a year, now has a record 40 members.

There are also many other ways companies help the Hospice through their own events and sponsorship.

Luke in his role in ‘Bismal Boys about the 1979 fire strike.

Luke became a professional actor after leaving All Hallows Catholic College in Macclesfield.

He trained at drama school, performing several Shakespearian roles in provincial theatres.

Luke appeared at local drama festivals and toured Italy and Turkey with children’s shows, receiving award nominations for his work.

He left the professional theatre world, though, during Covid.

Luke said: “The industry closed down unfortunately when lockdown hit in March 2020. There was never a guarantee of work anyway and my priorities shifted.

“I wanted something different out of life and more stability.”

After working as a personal trainer, Luke went into sales, a field which gave him certain skills he can employ with the Hospice.

He said: “I realised that I wanted to do something where I was making a difference to lives which is why the Hospice is perfect for me.

“I’m excited by the challenge and have only recently arrived so I’ve a lot to learn on the job.

“I’m going out meeting supporters and creating and maintaining relationships with them.

Luke Oldham (right) with Hospice colleague Luke Brightmore.

“It’s a fantastic environment here, though I knew that before I came here having lived in Macclesfield for as long as I have.

“Everyone knows someone with a connection. It has touched everyone at some point.

“It’s so engrained within the community and has such a great reputation. If you were going to pick a charity to work for, it’s hard to find a better one.”

Luke’s acting career is still flourishing. He said: “I loved being part of it and still do, but I now treat acting more as a hobby than a career.”

Luke is a member of MADS and has started rehearsals for their next production Macbeth in which he plays the title role. It runs from Mon Dec 4 to Sat Dec 9.

He has worked with Northern Rep Theatre and performed in ‘Bismal Boys about Macclesfield fire brigade during the 1979 strike.

That production won best drama at the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival, while Not Being Mean, which Luke directed, won best comedy in 2022.

* For corporate Hospice inquiries contact Luke on