Challenge Series Archives - East Cheshire Hospice

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.”

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

Hospice Chaplain takes on Fire and Ice Walk

East Cheshire Hospice Chaplain Marion Tugwood is the latest to accept the brave challenge of a Fire and Ice Walk.

There are still a few spaces left if you can pluck up the courage to tread on hot coals and broken glass.

There is a choice of one or both challenges on Thursday, November 9, at Macclesfield Rugby Club.

Hospice Chaplain Marion Tugwood who is tackling a Fire and Ice Walk.

Funeral director Richard Morrey persuaded Marion to take part. He said: “I know Marion very well and encouraged her to get out of her high heels and walk on hot coals.”

Marion said: “I’m happy to take up the challenge, especially as the event is about raising funds for the Hospice. In for a penny in for a pound, so I’ll be doing both the Fire and Ice walks.”

Richard did the fire challenge in 2018. He said: “It was wonderful. The coaching instructor was amazing and we felt so invigorated by the end of his talk.

“They explained everything during the safety briefing and said that it won’t hurt and doesn’t burn. The advice is just to follow their simple rules.

Last year’s Fire Walk at East Cheshire Hospice.   


“I’ve watched a couple of You Tube videos of glass walks and trust the staff organising it. I’ll believe everything they tell me.

“It’s a question of mind over matter basically and putting one foot in front of the other and being careful.”

* To enter the Fire and Ice walks visit

Richard Morrey takes on Fire and Ice Walk

Funeral director Richard Morrey sees for himself the care given by East Cheshire Hospice.

The nature of his work with Andrew Smith Funeral Services means he has regular contact with families using its services.

He can also vouch personally, as well as professionally, for the Hospice after his late father Eric was a patient there in 2017.

Plenty of reasons then for Richard to take part in a Fire and Ice Walk in aid of the charity on Thursday, November 9, at Macclesfield Rugby Club, from 6 pm.

Richard said: “The Hospice were very good to me and my family when my father passed away.

Funeral director Richard Morrey.

“He spent three weeks at the Hospice and the care for him, my mum Lynda and the rest of our family was first class.

“I’ve been involved with them since I started in the funeral industry 12 years ago. They’re a wonderful organisation.

“My father was a herdsman and also did a lot of work for the council as a youth leader.

“I also know the care they give to people because I speak to families every day arranging funerals.

“Families who come into the Hospice say the same as me. The care is amazing and I try to encourage as many people as possible to donate to the Hospice or fundraise for them.

“I went to see a gentleman there who wanted to chat through his wishes, and his family were saying how staff rally round and support them. It’s also such a calming environment.”

Andrew Smith Funeral Services is a member of the charity’s 500 Club which means they pledge to raise £500 each year for the Hospice.

Richard Morrey with his certificate after his first Fire Walk. 

Richard, an employee for more than eight years, said: “We’re keen to support the Hospice in every way we can. We know the Hospice is pretty much self-funded for everything that happens there and we want to help.”

Older sister Justine took part in a late-night walk for the Hospice shortly after their father died.

Richard said: “I wanted to up the ante on my sister so I did the Firewalk in 2018 and now I’m looking go one stage further by walking on both glass and fire.”

* To sponsor Richard visit

24-mile walk in memory of a loved one

A soggy end failed to dampen spirits on a special family day out climbing the Yorkshire Three Peaks.

Claire Crimes and family members took on the 24-mile walk in memory of her mother-in-law Iris, from Macclesfield.

 Iris Crimes was cared for by East Cheshire Hospice.

The group have raised more than £2,300 for East Cheshire Hospice where Iris was looked after last November.

The total was match funded by AstraZeneca where Claire works, as the Hospice is one of their chosen charities.

Claire said: “The weather was perfect for most of the day, but the heavens opened as we descended the last mountain.

From left, Craig Bracegirdle, Claire Crimes, Wayne Smith, Ben Crimes, Nat Hall and Ellie Crimes.

“It was a bit dodgy getting down with a small stream running down the rocks, so I ended up sliding down on my bottom. I finished the walk with muddy knickers and squelchy boots!”

Son Ben, daughter Ellie and her boyfriend Nat Hall, along with two of Iris’ other grandsons Wayne Smith and Craig Bracegirdle, also undertook the challenge.

Claire said: “We all wore yellow Hospice t-shirts which was fabulous as we could see each other clearly as we broke apart walking up the mountains.

“We stayed together as a group even though the younger ones would have completed it in a faster time, and they waited for me at the top of each peak.”

“We all looked after each other and completed the walk within the 12-hour time limit which was marvellous.

“We wanted to give something back for the way the Hospice cared for Iris. They were so lovely with her and all the family and it was our way of saying thank you.

“They’re all angels at the Hospice and made everything as comfortable as possible. We wanted to do something in Iris’ memory.”

A week later Ben also undertook a tandem sky dive to raise funds.

Daring Ben Crimes parachuted from 15,000 feet.  

Claire said: “It was his first parachute jump and he was the only one in his group who jumped from 15,000 feet.

“He said if he’s going to do it he may as well do it full-on from three miles up. He said it was amazing and if ever anyone had thought about doing it – do it!”

“We’d like to thank family and friends for the very kind donations and also the people we met along the way who also donated.”

To donate to their fundraising visit

Louise Troyano is cooking up something special.

Her late husband starred in The Great British Bake Off – now Louise Troyano is cooking up something special.

The art worker is going on a trek in Iceland organised by East Cheshire Hospice.

The three-day trip in November 2024 coincides with what would have been the couple’s 19th wedding anniversary.

Luis and Louise on their wedding day in 2005.

Louise said: “I’m doing something that creates a new memory of that day. I always try to do something new on the days you’re supposed to be sad on.”

She has happy memories of how husband Luis was treated at the Hospice where he spent several weeks in the autumn of 2020.

The graphic designer died of oesophageal cancer aged 49, five years after he finished runner-up in the hit BBC show presented by Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins.

Luis on The Great British Bake Off.

Judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood were dazzled by Luis’ delicious chocolate mousse and tropical Manchester tart.

Louise said: “Luis was excited to be on a show he watched religiously. He was the star baker for bread week and was good at making bread. To be fair, he was good at everything.

“He did all the cooking at home and made birthday cakes for everyone. Since he died, I’ve had to learn to cook for myself.

“He left me a note and one of the things he told me was to travel. We went on lots of holidays and Iceland is on my bucket list.

The Troyanos on holiday.

“When the Hospice trip popped up, I thought it’s ticking that box and helping the Hospice.”

“Luis died in October 2020 during Covid when we had to wear masks so it was weird. The Hospice staff were lovely, but I can’t remember all the names of the nurses now.

“It’s really sad and I feel bad because I probably wouldn’t be able to recognise them because they needed to be in masks.

“The staff were great. All of them. They were really nice and I knew the late chaplain Margaret, who was wonderful.”

Luis and Louise on their travels.

Louise is preparing for her Iceland adventure by carrying a rucksack full of recipe books.

She said: “I love walking and will need to carry water so am getting used to the weight.”

She works at the advertising agency McCann Manchester and in the admissions hut at Lyme Park entrance.

Louise and McCann colleagues are organising a bake off in Luis’ memory raising funds for the Hospice.

* To sponsor her visit

Do you fancy visiting the edge of the Arctic circle?

Do you fancy visiting the edge of the Arctic circle?

East Cheshire Hospice still has a few places left on its Iceland adventure between November 13-18 next year.

The three-day trek is graded moderate to challenging with walkers covering an average of 12 kilometres a day over varying terrain.

The journey ends with a chance to explore Reykjavik, the world’s most northern capital.

The hike visits active volcanoes and lava fields, bubbling mud pools and hot springs.

The natural wonders of Iceland.

Walkers will also travel along the fault lines between Europe and America, with a chance of seeing the Northern Lights.

Three open evenings at the Hospice on Tuesdays Sept 12 and 19 and Monday, Sept 25 (all at 7 pm) will be a chance to learn more details.

People can attend one of the sessions without booking or email for more information.

Hospice Community and Events Assistant Nik Kalka said: “Iceland is known as the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’ because of its breathtaking natural landscapes.

Fundraiser Nik Kalka.

“It’s the trip of a lifetime and at the same time it’s a great way for walkers to support the Hospice.”

The entry deadline is November. A full breakdown of costs and fundraising, as well as testimonials from previous trek participants, will be given at the open evenings.

To find out more about the Iceland trip visit or contact the fundraising team on 01625 433477.

Kate Parker’s Hospice fundraising

Running has been the best medicine for Dr Kate Parker after losing her husband John four years ago.

Pounding the streets has seen Kate raise more than £8,000 for East Cheshire Hospice where he spent his final days.

John, an apprentice jeweller, died from bowel cancer aged 41, two years after diagnosis.

Kate, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, said: “I find running has really helped with my grief which is probably why I’ve chosen to do that as a fundraiser.

Dr Kate Parker and late husband John.  

“John and I would run together. He was taller and faster than me, so I couldn’t always keep up with him.

“While he was ill, I found it helped deal with such a difficult diagnosis and managing to look after him.

“The last few months of his life were tough so it helped me cope. Sometimes I’d run along the street crying my eyes out, but I didn’t really care and found it therapeutic.”

John received support from the charity’s Hospice @Home team before he was admitted as an inpatient.

Kate, a Macclesfield resident since 2016, said: “The Hospice were extremely helpful managing his pain during his final days. I don’t think I’d have managed at home.

Kate with daughter Willow after a fundraising run.

“We decided it was probably better he didn’t die at home to avoid leaving memories that would have been difficult to manage for our children.”

Daughters Jess and Hannah were in their early teens when their father died, while sister Willow was 16 months old at the time. She is now five.

Kate said: “I was midway through pregnancy when John was diagnosed. Having a baby while he was undergoing cancer treatment was quite a unique experience though a good distraction for both of us.

“For John and myself to bring up Willow together, even while he was ill, was incredibly special for us.”

Kate has undertaken the last three Manchester 10k runs, the last two with partner Max, a fellow fundraiser. John’s running friends from Poynton were also an inspiration.

Running for charity … Kate and partner Max.

She said: “It’s a no-brainer really. I’m aware the Hospice isn’t funded by the NHS and relies mostly on public money for funding.

“I’m always a bit bemused by that and can’t believe that it’s not properly funded.

“I felt it was more important to fundraise for the Hospice because I can’t imagine how it would have been in those last few days if we had not been able to go there.”

Hospice IPU Sister completes Skydive

Sky diver Pippa Williams hopes other nurses aim high like her by joining East Cheshire Hospice.

Macclesfield-born Pippa raised almost £900 when she leapt out of a plane over Shropshire in a tandem parachute jump.

Pippa about to take the plunge.

Pippa is ward sister at the charity which is on the lookout for qualified nurses and health care assistants/support workers.

Daredevil antics are optional, but Pippa’s plunge with 23 other Hospice staff and supporters who raised £14,000 shows the family atmosphere there.

“It’s a privilege and an honour to work at the Hospice. It’s a warm, friendly, calm environment and we can give time to patients in their final days or weeks and support their families.

A leap into the unknown … Pippa on a mission to raise funds for the Hospice.

“We have vacancies at the moment and I would recommend joining a nursing team brilliantly supported across all areas, with phenomenal backing from the community.

“I did a sky dive for the first time as I wanted to give something back to a Hospice hopefully there for years to come for all of us if necessary.

“A parachute jump was on my bucket list. It was a glorious day and the only time I got nervous was when the door opened.”

Pippa after her sky dive.

Pippa has worked at the Hospice for nine years, the last six in her current role.

Husband Adam, son Marcus (7) and daughter Anya (2) saw the jump, along with mum Helen, who works at the Hospice, and mother-in-law Joy.

* To apply for a vacancy at the Hospice visit

S&G Response take on charity challenge

Four cyclists riding through four countries in as many days covering a distance of 444 kilometres.

No wonder Nick Stone, Jonathan Spencer, Sean Harper and Tom Healey have been dubbed the fantastic four.

They are aiming to raise £10,000 for East Cheshire Hospice in memory of Tom’s uncle Brian who died of oesophageal cancer in 2009, aged 59.

Tom, from Sutton, said: “My uncle spent his last few days in the Hospice and my parents know friends who’ve been in there.

“Mum organised coffee mornings in aid of the charity, so as a group we decided to support them as they’re local and have such a big impact.”

The quartet start in Calais on July 1 before cycling to Bruges, Maastrict and Cologne.

The cyclists work for S&G Response, a Wilmslow-based outsourcing insurance company founded by Nick, from Adlington, who won a ‘Giving It Back to Charity’ award at a recent insurance industry event.

Cyclists (from left) Nick Stone, Tom Healey and Johnathan Spencer. 

Nick said: “It’s going to be physically and mentally draining, but will be well worth it, especially knowing Tom’s story and why we’re doing the ride.

“We’re all semi competent cyclists and it’s a pretty cool thing to do together.”

Father and son Chris and Bradley Gibson, and Glenn Taylor, who all work for S&G, make up the support team, while colleagues are also travelling across the Channel to cheer on the group.

Sean Harper who is undertaking his fifth long-distance ride.

Motor vehicle engineer Jonathan devised the route. He said: “One thing I’ve discovered is that Google maps doesn’t work in Germany. We’re using tried and tested cycle paths where possible and have chosen a scenic route.

“We’ve all still got the fire in our bellies from our last charity ride from London to Amsterdam in 2019 and it’s great that our company is very charity oriented.”

This will be Sean Harper’s fifth long-distance ride. He said: “I started cycling after a football injury in 2010 and didn’t fancy running.

“The furthest was Blackpool to Paris and they were all organised rides but this could be tougher.”

Office manager and Executive Assistant Erica Boland said: “Cycling 280 miles in four days will be an epic challenge after a train and ferry to Calais.

“It’s a charity close to our hearts with family and friends of several employees benefitting from Hospice support. Every penny donated will help us reach our ambitious fundraising target.”

* To donate visit