April 2024 - East Cheshire Hospice

The new look Sunflower Living Well Centre at East Cheshire Hospice

The new look Sunflower Living Well Centre at East Cheshire Hospice has welcomed its first patients.

The facility has undergone a major transformation to become one of the most modern healthcare centres in the region.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire Lady Alexis Redmond MBE officially declared the centre open after a nine-month building project costing £1.3m.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire Lady Alexis Redmond MBE cuts the ribbon to reopen the Sunflower Living Well Centre.

There to witness the ribbon-cutting ceremony were long-standing Hospice supporters Anna Rains, Thelma Jackson and Madge Slater whose fundraising exploits created the original Sunflower Centre in 2000.

The new complex on the same site adjoining the main Hospice building is equipped to meet a rapidly growing need for the Hospice’s services.

Patient and carer capacity will eventually more than double from a weekly rate of 179 to 400.

More services can now operate simultaneously and during evenings and weekends.

The new design in dementia-friendly colours allows natural light to flood the main room. Smart technology is also incorporated.

The interior of the new centre.

The work was funded by significant grants from The Hargreaves Charitable Trust, The Mather Family Charitable Trust, The Wolfson Foundation and Garfield Weston. The balance was met from the charity’s reserves.

Guests included Robbie Hargreaves, co-founder of Proseal UK which provided funds for a new Hospice wing opened three years ago, and patrons, trustees, ambassadors, vice presidents and volunteers.

Contractors celebrated the opening with staff, including project manager Mike Drew.

Chief Executive Karyn Johnston said: “This is an important day in the history of East Cheshire Hospice.

“I want to thank everyone who has supported us to make today a reality, enabling us to extend and develop our care to anyone, anywhere and anytime they need it.

The entrance to the new look Sunflower Living Well Centre.

“We’re delighted Lady Redmond, a fervent supporter of the Hospice movement, can be with us today, along with her husband Sir Phil Redmond, and our donors without whom this building would not have been possible.

“Our staff are the best team any organisation could ever hope to have.”

Lady Redmond said: “This is such a special place and I congratulate you all. The aim of the new centre is to be at the heart of the hospice’s commitment to making sure those with life-limiting illnesses are supported to live as well as possible right from the point of diagnosis.”

The Northern Chamber Orchestra, sponsored by CDL Software, entertained guests with a demonstration of Mind Music, a project exploring the effects of live music on those living with dementia.

Helen Trueman, CDL’s Internal Communications Manager, said: “We were delighted to sponsor the Northern Chamber Orchestra to play at the opening of the Sunflower Living Well Centre, and to be part of celebrating the addition of this wonderful resource for the community.

“CDL has a long-standing relationship with the orchestra who work to widen access to live classical music in a range of settings, including care homes, schools and in this case, by bringing through their ‘mind music’ initiative to East Cheshire Hospice. Congratulations to all involved.”

A glimpse inside the plush new Sunflower Living Well Centre

Helen Henshaw only wanted a new carpet for her beloved Sunflower Living Well Centre at East Cheshire Hospice.

Her wish was granted and she got a lot more besides.

Helen Henshaw, who has worked at East Cheshire Hospice for 25 years. 

A glimpse inside the plush new complex shows the scale of a stunning facility.

Helen, the centre manager, said: “All I asked for in the first place was to replace our dark carpet which wasn’t classed as dementia friendly and this is what we’ve ended up with!

“People with dementia can be reluctant to walk on dark colours. They feel it could be a hole or a puddle.

“The new centre is lighter and brighter and has opened everything up, using technology to give a new perspective.”

Staff toast the opening of the new look Sunflower Living Well Centre.

Helen has worked at the Hospice for 25 years. She said: “When I first came we had a small day care set up in one of the side rooms near the inpatient unit before opening up the main room in 2000.

“Now we have a built-in sound system and can dim the lights for relaxation sessions and project presentations on to a big wall.

“Before we were a general day care unit. Now we’re progressing into a wellbeing centre giving information and guidance on managing conditions.

Centre manager Helen Henshaw presents flowers to Lady Alexis Redmond MBE, Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire, watched by Hospice Chief Executive Karyn Johnston.

“People were frightened and apprehensive of the word hospice. We want this to be a community hub accessible to all where people feel comfortable and relaxed.

“We’re offering services from the point of diagnosis and want family and social groups to use these facilities.”

Business owner Ben Simpkin saw how he could help East Cheshire Hospice

Business owner Ben Simpkin saw how he could help East Cheshire Hospice during visits to see his late father.

He donated two sophisticated medical trolleys, products his company supplies to hospitals and health centres.

Hospice nursing staff liked the essential equipment so much they asked for a quote to buy another one.

Ben happily agreed to their request but would not take any payment. The extra trolley is for use in the Sunflower Living Well Centre.

Ben Simpkin with healthcare assistant Anita Hoskins and one of the trolleys.

It was the least he could do for the way they looked after his father, Howard, who died of pancreatic cancer in September, aged 79.

Ben is MD of MS Group, a holding company trading also as Zarges Medical UK. It supplies the medical industry with furniture and storage equipment.

He is following in the footsteps of his dad who set up the company in 1978 and lived in Adlington.

Ben said: “The company was dad’s life work and we’re carrying on that tradition. During hospital stays in his last two years, we’d discuss the furniture in there and laugh about how he could sell them something.

“He spent his last three days in the Hospice and while I was wandering through the corridors one night I saw their existing trolleys.

“I asked them if they’d like two new ones. They were most grateful and more than happy to accept my offer. They rang to ask for a price for another trolley, but it’s hard to charge a place like that for anything so we’ve donated three altogether.

“The trolleys are top of the range, flexible and can store everything from bandages to syringes.

“The way the Hospice cared for my dad was unbelievable. They couldn’t have done any more or been any nicer. I can’t repay them for what they did, but it made sense to help them with any little contribution we can.”

Helen Henshaw, manager of the Hospice’s Sunflower Living Well Centre, said: “Ben’s generosity not only honours his father’s memory but also contributes significantly to our ability to offer compassionate, high-quality care.

“These trolleys are much more than just equipment. They’re a vital part of our daily efforts to provide gold standard care and our nurses love them.

“We’re deeply thankful for the ongoing support which helps us make a real difference to the lives of those we care for.”

Alex Williams has made a temporary transfer to East Cheshire Hospice

Former Manchester City goalkeeper Alex Williams has made a temporary transfer to East Cheshire Hospice – for a one-off fundraiser.

He will be at the charity’s stall at the Treacle Market in Macclesfield between 11 am and 1 pm on Sunday, April 28.

Alex is selling copies of his autobiography You Saw Me Standing Alone, with proceeds donated to the Hospice.

The book costs £15 and a share of sales also goes to City in the Community, the club’s charitable arm.

Former goalkeeper Alex Williams who will be at the Treacle Market.

Alex’s book tells how he overcame racism in the 1980s as the country’s first modern day black goalkeeper.

He succeeded Joe Corrigan, a Hospice patron, as keeper in City’s first team.

Alex was invited by Gary Henshaw, whose tombola stall at Macclesfield’s markets has raised more than £10,000 for the Hospice.

Alex was a pioneer of community football, culminating in schemes such as Macclesfield FC’s Community Sports Trust.

He retired last year after more than 30 years running City’s programme.

One of his last acts was to present the Premier League trophy to captain Ilkay Gundogan.

Alex said: “I’m delighted to be helping the Hospice, which is a wonderful cause and another example of great community spirit.

“I was at the Macclesfield branch of the City supporters’ club recently and know the town is full of Blues.”

Gary said: “Alex is a man of the people and a friend of the stars, as described in his book. Come along and have a chat and raise more funds for the Hospice.”

Gary Henshaw with his tombola stall. 

Why not take the plunge and make a bungee jump for East Cheshire Hospice?

Why not take the plunge and make a bungee jump for East Cheshire Hospice?

Thrill-seekers are invited to take a giant leap over Tatton Park in aid of the much-loved Hospice.

Organisers the UK Bungee Club claim the 300 ft drop is the highest regular jump in the country.

Fundraiser Luke Hughes who is organising a bungee challenge.

The Hospice has partnered with Run for Charity for the event held over a picturesque lake on the weekends of April 13/14, July 6/7 and October 12/13.

Entrants will have a few seconds to appreciate the vast deer park and stunning scenery before leaping off a platform suspended from a crane.

Luke Hughes, Community and Events Assistant at the Hospice, said: “Dare you get involved in this exciting challenge? It’s not for the faint-hearted but it may be on your bucket list.

Fundraiser Luke Hughes who is organising a bungee challenge.

“We know from experience that lots of our supporters take part in wild and wacky adventures to raise funds and hopefully this challenge will appeal to those with a head for heights.

“This is the first time we’ve teamed up with Run for Charity and there will be lots more challenges available in the future.

“The benefit is that we don’t need to worry about the logistics and cost of putting on these events, but it’s easy for supporters to sign up and support the Hospice.”

To enter visit www.runforcharity.com/east-cheshire-hospice-/tatton-bungee.

Entry is £120 (plus £4.80 booking fee) and entrants must agree to raise £200 for the Hospice.

The daily cost for East Cheshire Hospice increases

East Cheshire Hospice now needs to find a staggering £9,362 a day to keep its doors open.

The daily cost represents a near 25 per cent increase on the old figure of £7,500.

The new total, calculated on average costs over the last five years, excludes the 21 per cent of income received from government.

That percentage has risen from 17 per cent but is still well below the 30 per cent hospices receive on average nationally from public funds.

East Cheshire’s slight rise in NHS support is due to the extra community services it now provides.

The Hospice has also calculated that a single overnight stay in its inpatient unit costs £740.

The increases are due to a combination of factors.

The cost of providing care at the Hospice has gone up.

Energy bills have gone up, as have staff wages with the Hospice committed to matching NHS salaries.

The cost of equipment and building maintenance also rose as part of the cost-of-living crisis.

The £7,500 figure needed daily also excluded the charity’s popular Hospice @ Home service which started in 2017.

The total cost of running the Hospice, which provides more services than ever before, is around £5.6m a year.

The modernised Sunflower Living Well Centre will have the capacity to support 400 individual and family members each week, more than twice the previous number.

Importantly, the complex will allow more than one service to run at any one time, giving the Hospice further scope to handle the changing complexity of healthcare needs.

Income Generation Director Rachel Allcock said: “The fact we need to raise £9,362 a day to run the Hospice emphasises more than ever the need to continue to generate funds.

Rachel Allcock, Income Generation Director at East Cheshire Hospice.


“The amazing goodwill and generosity of the public, our corporate supporters and our hard- working staff and volunteers keeps us going and we thank them sincerely for their ongoing support.

“The model used to calculate our costs allows us to update the figures easily.

“We deliver a lot more services than we did before so the sum we need to raise is far more up to date, reflecting the scale of the challenge we face in difficult economic times.”