January 2024 - East Cheshire Hospice

Walk and talk counselling group

A leisurely stroll through Macclesfield Forest has become a popular way to assist with the grieving process.

The walk and talk counselling group run by East Cheshire Hospice using nature’s wonders as a backdrop help the bereaved cope with their losses.

Applications are open for the next series of six weekly 90-minute walks, starting on Wednesday, March 6.

The Forest Therapy group is available to family, carers and close friends of those who have accessed Hospice services in some way.

The walks, which began almost a year ago, are on a rolling cycle.

Hospice bereavement counsellors Helen Wilkinson (left) and Carole Hartley.

Bereavement counsellors Helen Wilkinson and Carole Hartley accompany the small groups whose feedback has been extremely positive.

Helen, the Adult Bereavement Services Manager, said: “The walks have been extremely popular, everyone has said they’d recommend it. One person said it’s so good it should be rolled out in all hospices.

“It’s important to emphasise the counselling and psychotherapy element because there are quite a few peer support groups out there already who are talking while they’re walking. But this group is run by two counsellors/psychotherapists.

“We cover a basic, gentle route and these walks have a huge benefit because we use nature as our playground for the therapy.

“Nature is so powerful in such a subtle way. People can relate to things instead of being sat in a room and talking intensely. We’ve found that outdoors things come easily to people, they can process grief in that natural environment.

“It might be a certain tree that resonates with them, or focusing on something that comes up for them during the walk.

“We’ve also had quite spiritual moments, with butterflies circling and robins stopping on the path in front. It’s powerful what you notice going through the forest and helps provide a gentle insight into someone’s grief.

“As it’s group therapy, people can say as much, or as little, as they want. But nine times of 10, the beauty of it is that someone introverted and quiet and quite isolated in their grief can often learn so much from others.

“It can bring them out of their shell and help their processes. They may make peer support connections afterwards as well.”

* To join the walk, or find out more, contact the Bereavement Services team on 01625 708936 or email cmicb-cheshire.echospicefsbereavement@nhs.net.

Forest Therapy Group Feedback

“It gave me a ray of relief and hope in a very dark time” … just one poignant remark from a bereaved member of the Forest Therapy group.

Feedback to the Macclesfield Forest walks has been highly encouraging. Comments from participants include …

“The group provides an amazingly supportive and welcoming lifeline for those suffering with grief and bereavement. It has restored my faith in my own ability to keep living and to find a way forward.”

Members of the Forest Therapy Group enjoy a relaxing walk.

“We realised we’re all feeling the same kind of emotions or have felt that way and got through that stage. That makes you feel stronger to know you’re getting somewhere.”

 “We all got on so well and really bonded. I was so sad it finished. We’re all going to keep in touch to talk and arrange walks which feels the right thing to do.”

“The Forest Therapy was crucial for me, finding a wonderful group of people all honest and beautifully kind. Being surrounded by nature and able to reflect was priceless.”

“I would highly recommend these sessions for anyone who has lost someone close to them.”

“Reflecting on everything around me in the forest gave a sense of calm and peace which has been missing. Just the act of being surrounded by nature, with people who didn’t judge if I cried, made me feel safe and relaxed.”

* The Hospice’s bereavement services also offer one-to-one counselling either face to face, over the telephone and online, or through groups and workshops.

Will Month in October raised £11,373 for East Cheshire Hospice

Allowing a month to get a will written rather than a week provided a major fundraising boost for East Cheshire Hospice.

The Hospice’s Will Month in October raised £11,373, excluding Gift Aid which is expected to take the total to more than £13,000.

It is the highest total raised by the campaign in five years, beating the £9,424 generated in the Covid year of 2020.

Beth England, from East Cheshire Hospice, with Joe Etherington, from Moneybox Wills and Trusts.

Beth England, Individual Giving Manager at the Hospice, said: “The campaign running for a full month, instead of a week, was the main reason for the increase, and the average donation was higher than before.

“We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who took part and kindly donated, and the participating organisations who made it a success through their generous dedication of time and ongoing support of the Hospice.”

Stratford Solicitors, GPW Tax and Law and Moneybox Wills and Trusts completed 55 appointments. Moneybox, based in Tytherington, raised £5,896, excluding Gift Aid, from 24 clients.

Joe Etherington, the firm’s Head of Wills and Trusts, said: “Many of those who saw us had personal links with the Hospice one way or another. It was a fantastic result all-round and we’re delighted to have played a part in the campaign’s success.

“The fact it was Will Month made a massive difference – you can see a lot more people in four weeks than one.” *

* For more details on legacies email bengland@echospice.org.uk, or call 01625 433477.

Making a difference with Hospice Befrienders

A befriender service is making a real difference to those who feel isolated towards the end of life.

The East Cheshire Hospice scheme has been popular since it was set up 18 months ago by the Hospice’s Volunteering Lead Helena Smith.

Helena said: “The befrienders service is for people receiving palliative care, approximately in the last year of life. It’s all about the person not being a patient – it’s about being them.

“We also support their carers, whether it’s so they can have a break, or as friendship and support for them – carers can really struggle too. It’s not for people with dementia, but we do have a similar service for them.

“We have about 30 befrienders. They’re amazing, utterly exceptional people and we’d like to recruit more. I’m so lucky to have so many.

Helena Smith, Volunteering Lead at East Cheshire Hospice.

“We’re serving people who are lonely and isolated and it’s about making connections and relationships.

“We’ve a nice range of befrienders, age wise and background wise, and as the role involves a couple of hours commitment a week it can often be fitted around work.

“A couple of our volunteers work full time and visit in the evenings. They’re few and far between, but there are ways and means.

“Importantly, they’re all helping people in their own community. People may not know what needs there are around them and the service runs best when it’s helping people in their communities.

Befrienders at East Cheshire Hospice.

“We match on personality. If you’re going to spend time together, I make sure you’re going to get on.”

Helena is happy to hear from patients and carers. Users do not need to be a Hospice patient to take part, they just need to be in the last year of life, and not have a dementia diagnosis.

She said: “We’re open for referrals. If anyone reading this article thinks it would help someone they know, then give me a call for a chat.

“This supports non-medical needs which are as vital as physical health.

“At the Hospice, we’re all about allowing people to be themselves despite their circumstances. While much of our care might require a more medical approach, this service is completely different to that.

“In at least half of cases where there is a carer, we end up supporting them quite intensively as well.”

* Call Helena on 01925 664984 or email hsmith@echospice.org.uk for more details.

A Huge Success at this Year’s Christmas Tree Collection!

What have a Bishop, a Mayor and Chaplain all got in common? The answer is they all took part in this year’s East Cheshire Hospice Christmas tree collection.

They were among some 230 volunteers from all walks of life who helped gather more than 6,400 trees.

The 24th edition of the scheme went like clockwork once again, thanks to a well-drilled routine which raised another £150,000 for the Hospice.

Volunteers ready to start the Christmas tree collection.

A staggering £1.9m has been generated overall for the Hospice, leaving organisers on course to smash the £2m mark when the scheme celebrates its silver jubilee next year.

Macclesfield Mayor Cllr Chris Wilcock was on a mission, signing up as a volunteer after his late mum Lesley was a Hospice outpatient in 2015.

Cllr Wilcock said: “The Hospice is one of my chosen charities during my year of office and my mum is another reason I wanted to help. She was only 59 when she died of cancer.

Macclesfield Mayor Cllr Chris Wilcock and wife Katie, the Mayoress.

“She was treated at the Sunflower Centre and on the day she died was on her way here to become an inpatient.”

The Bishop of Stockport, Reverend Sam Corley, was also out and about collecting trees for delivery to the Ansa recycling plant in West Park and Swift Tree Services in Adlington.

Rev Corley said: “I’m one of several bellringers involved in this brilliant event. I couldn’t make it last year and am delighted I can be here this time.

Air Cadets (from left) Cpl Arthur Brough, Sgt Bill Martin, Sgt Millie Carlisle and Andrew Storer.   

“It’s a win-win – people get their trees collected and it raises money for a wonderful cause.

“The collection helps promote the work of the Hospice in the local community and there’s a real buzz among volunteers.”

Co-founder Richard Raymond said: “Yet again we’ve had an overwhelming response, both in terms of donations and volunteers whose amazing dedication makes this all possible.

Volunteer bellringers (from left) Nick and Graham Jenkins, Richard Raymond, Marcela Hall, David White and Rev Sam Corley.

 Workers at the Ansa recycling plant prepare to mulch the first tree delivery.

“The support of sponsors, led by AstraZenaca, covers costs meaning funds donated go directly to patient care.”

Richard and co-founder Pete Chapman will hold a debrief in the coming weeks as thoughts turn to how to mark the 25th year. One idea is to get everyone who has volunteered involved.

Volunteers collected trees over two days.  

Volunteers helping with refreshments included Hospice Chaplain Marion Tugwood and Air Cadets from 201 (Macclesfield) Squadron, whose Flt Lt Spike Elliott is a long-standing volunteer.

Organisers have advised other hospices on running their own collections and on the eve of this event provided route planning help for charities in Essex and Yorkshire.

It’s a wrap … volunteers enjoy a well-earned drink after the collection.

Celebration of Life Dinner huge success in memory of family members

A celebration party thrown by Jason and Linda Walker turned into a major fundraiser for East Cheshire Hospice.

A dinner at Hilltop Country House in Prestbury raised £15,500 thanks to the generosity of friends and business pals.

More than 150 guests toasted the wonderful work of hospices, including around 20 staff from East Cheshire invited as a thank you for their work.

Jason, who runs a digital marketing company, got the idea when he saw a sign at the Hospice while visiting his late mum Pauline.

It highlighted that the charity needs to raise £7,500 a day to keep its doors open and Jason and wife Linda could not resist helping.

Supporters at the celebration dinner. Jason Walker is far right and wife Linda is sixth from the right.  

He said: “Mum was in there more than eight weeks early last year and I saw the sign while having a coffee in the visiting room. Mum said she wanted to pass away in a Hospice.

“They’re the most amazing places – you expect them to be sad and morbid but they’re jolly and wonderful.”

The owners of Hilltop provided the venue and staff without charge and threw in drinks and bar profits.

Food costs were covered by business sponsors Jleaf, MKP Developments, Platinum Independent Financial Services and Higgins Miller Solicitors.

Hospice guests (back, from left) Julie Whalley, Tanya Harrington, Joan Marie Williams, Margaret Black, Tracey Pearce, Helen Henshaw, Angela Dooley and Loretta Eason. Front, Victoria Sayers and Sharon Hurley. 

That meant all proceeds from ticket sales went to the Hospice. Bands Living on iO and North Room, photographer David Murch, videographer Lana Johnson and florists Taylor Made Blooms all donated their services for free.

Jason, whose late father-in-law Roy was also a Hospice patient, said: “It was a case of beg, steal and borrow what we could to raise as much as possible for the Hospice.

“Most guests knew of someone close who has been in the Hospice and it was a way to celebrate their lives.

“We’d have been happy to have raised enough for one day’s care, but to cover the cost of two was amazing.”

Hilltop chefs (from left) Simon Osbourne, Paul Merrett and Iain Winnard who looked after guests at a Hospice fundraiser.  

“We’d like to thank Hilltop and our other sponsors for their magnificent generosity to make it such a huge success. Everyone was happy to get involved and we’re already being asked when the next event is taking place.”

Hilltop sales and marketing executive Olivia Heath said: “Our country house and marquee is a beautiful 17th century setting for weddings and events and it was a pleasure to host this party for such a wonderful cause.”

9,000 young participants took part in this years Santa Dash

Swimming, dancing and even a nature trail … children found all sorts of ways to support East Cheshire Hospice’s latest fundraising initiative.

Almost 9,000 youngsters took part in a Santa Dash, sponsored by Active Sport for the second year running.

Pupils from Beech Hall School took a cold dip to help East Cheshire Hospice.

Organisers are still receiving sponsorship with donations expected to match last year’s sum of almost £47,000.

Volunteers from Equilibrium Financial Planning LLP have been helping the Hospice process donations.

Fundraisers from King’s School join in the fun.  

Some 39 schools or other organisations took part, making it the biggest mass participation event run by the Hospice during the year.

Community and Events co-ordinator Claire Gorton said: “Once again we’ve had terrific support for this simple fun festive event.

“We’re overwhelmed by the response from schools and groups who’ve been inspired to raise funds for a great local cause.

“Participants come from all over east Cheshire and we’re so grateful to everyone who’s taken part or has helped with sponsorship.

Parkroyal Community School take part in the Santa Dash.

“We mix it up each time with a different theme. It was an Elf Run last year and next Christmas it’ll be a Reindeer Rush. We leave it up to groups to make it as flexible and inclusive as they can.

“One school like to boogie. Some swim, walk, run and we’ve even had a nature trail. We’re happy with whatever works for them as a group.”

Active Sport led pupils at Parkroyal Community School in a warm-up after they won a competition as early bird entrants.

From music to mulching

From music to mulching … father and son Tony and Doug Skelton do not mind how they raise funds for East Cheshire Hospice.

Weeks after organising a night of musical entertainment, the pair will join dozens of other volunteers at the next Christmas Tree Collection on the weekend of January 13/14.

Tony will drive one of his company vans, while Doug fetches trees from driveways of supporters donating to the Hospice.

From left, volunteer Mike Brighouse with Doug and Tony Skelton.

It is not too late to register. Visit www.echtrees.org.uk to get your tree collected. The deadline is noon on Wednesday, January 10.

Tony and Doug have already raised £8,706 for the Hospice from The Cinema Show, an 80s audio and visual show which drew a full house to MADS Theatre in October.

It was organised by Doug, who handles digital marketing at PPE firm Intersafety where Tony is Managing Director.

Last year was their first experience of the tree collection which has raised a staggering £1.75m for the Hospice since it began 24 years ago.

Doug said: “As rookies last January we didn’t know what to expect. We decided to give it a go and threw ourselves in at the deep end.

“It was utterly exhausting, but a good laugh and great fun. Tony does the driving and I lug trees, though he claims jokingly that he’s the only one who does a bit of everything.

“We all met up in the pub afterwards to celebrate our achievements and soon forgot about any aching limbs.”

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

The Skeltons were joined by fellow volunteer Mike Brighouse and Hospice Director Sarah Dale BEM on their two days of travels.

Trees were mulched at Swift Tree Services at Adlington Industrial Estate where Intersafety is also located.  They will also be recycled at the Ansa plant at West Park this year as usual.

The scheme, sponsored by AstraZeneca, raised £150,000 last year. Sponsorship means that all proceeds go towards patient care.

Co-founders Richard Raymond and Pete Chapman also supported The Cinema Show which featured nostalgic musical interpretations of Live Aid, MTV, mobile phones and 80s fashion.

Doug said: “We had a phenomenal night and the response from sponsors was amazing. It was another example of local companies and supporters coming together in aid of the Hospice.”

Post codes covered on the tree collection are CW12, SK9, SK10, SK11, SK12 and WA16.

Jack Hartley has added an extra round to his deliveries

Paper boy Jack Hartley has added an extra round to his deliveries promoting the Christmas tree collection for East Cheshire Hospice.

Jack has been handing out leaflets on Sunday mornings to help a charity which means a lot to his family.

Grandparents Philip and Olwen Hobson, from Macclesfield, died within three months of each other in 2015 and both were patients at the Hospice.

Mum Carole works for the charity as a bereavement counsellor.

Jack is volunteering by distributing leaflets for three months to earn his bronze certificate as part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme.

Jack Hartley out on his rounds delivering leaflets.

Carole said: “Jack wanted to do something for the Hospice because of his nana and grandpa. Since he’s 14, there were limited options for how he could volunteer, so this has worked out quite well.

“I take him out and help him a bit, though he’s used to delivering because of his paper round.

“The Hospice is very special to us as a family and we like to help out and support whenever we can.”

Once the tree collection is over, Jack will deliver leaflets asking for volunteers to help those with dementia.

The Hospice runs a Dementia Befrienders service providing respite for carers and they need more assistance.

* If you can help contact angela.omahony@echospice.org.uk