Adult Bereavement Archives - East Cheshire Hospice

In memory of Ollie Wheelton

Family and friends have paid moving tributes to the courage and character of Ollie Wheelton who died of cancer in June. The popular sportsman, from Macclesfield, died in East Cheshire Hospice, aged just 21.

Older sister Laura joined a 100 kilometre bike ride to honour his memory on Sunday (Sept 5), while Ollie’s pals tackled a Tough Mudder challenge the day before. They started fundraising to ensure Ollie’s legacy lives on and to thank the Hospice for caring for him.

Ollie Wheelton with sister Laura.

Laura said: “Ollie was such an inspiration and was so brave. He was my cheeky little brother and it’s hard to believe he’s gone.

“He was very strong throughout his illness. He never complained and always had a positive attitude. He gave us advice, saying that we had our health when he didn’t and we should take advantage of that good health and enjoy life.”

Laura was joined by partner Matt Ward, uncle John Slack and cousins Helena and Tim Slack on the bike ride which followed the route to The Christie which Ollie undertook for treatment during his two-year illness.

Ollie, a big Manchester United fan, bought a club season ticket with his first bonus from work at Barclays Bank at Radbroke Hall.

Close friend Hugh Milner undertook a Tough Mudder at Cholmondeley Castle with brothers Zach and Aaron Widdowson, Jack Green, Elliott Broadhurst and Brad Draper, all Barclays colleagues. Brad’s father Sean Draper also took part

From left, Ollie, Hugh Milner and Brad Draper with Zach Widdowson (standing).

Hugh said: “Ollie was a lovely generous guy and the most welcoming of people. I met him when we were all part of the same Barclays apprenticeship intake and our friendship grew.

“We became best friends and we all want his legacy to continue.  He was such a big character in the Macclesfield community and is greatly missed.

Ollie was an all-rounder at Langley Cricket Club and starred as a junior at Macclesfield Rugby Union Club and both clubs have supported fundraising which stands at more than £8,000.

Hugh said: “He loved playing sport and we’d like to thank everyone for their sponsorship.

“He was a fit young man and the cancer came out of nowhere. I remember going into Manchester with him one night in 2019 and he thought he’d got a bladder infection which turned out to be the cancer which spread.”

Ollie with dad Andrew, mum Jill and sister Laura at her graduation at the University of Central Lancashire in 2016

The family of Ollie Wheelton have thanked East Cheshire Hospice for caring for him in his final days. Much of his two years undergoing hospital treatment for cancer were spent under strict Covid restrictions. But they were finally able to spend precious time together as a family once Ollie went into the Hospice.

Sister Laura said: “The Hospice were just amazing and let all of stay together for the three days Ollie was there.

“They were really accommodating and just made everything really gentle, taking the pressure of mum, dad and me.

“We all got to stay with him and didn’t have to worry about anything else. We really appreciated that special time together at the end.

“That’s why we wanted to raise money. I hadn’t realised the charity relies so heavily on donations and needs £7,500 a day to keep going.”

Laura will always cherish the time she spent with her brother and their parents Andrew and Jill. She said: “We always went away together as a family on holiday and were all really close.

“Ollie was full of life and would do anything for anyone. He was a hard worker and every Saturday night you’d find him out in Macclesfield or Manchester.”

* To donate visit justgiving.com/fundraising/ollie-wheelton or justgiving.com/fundraising/l-wheelton

Volunteer Elspeth Retires after 33 Years

One of our longest serving volunteers Elspeth Julian has retired after 33 years with the Hospice.

Elspeth, from Prestbury, has been an adult bereavement counsellor almost since the day the Hospice opened its doors in 1988.

A special afternoon tea marked Elspeth’s farewell and well-earned retirement.

It also gave colleagues the chance to thank her for her vital role helping countless families who have lost loved ones.

Reluctantly, Elspeth was absent from her part-time duties for more than a year because of the Covid-19 restrictions.

She said: “I’ll miss being part of such a worthwhile organisation with its welcoming atmosphere but all good things come to an end I suppose.

“When the Hospice was setting up bereavement services I was invited to join a small group of volunteers to visit the relations of patients who had died there.

“I’d been a social worker, and a Samaritan, and so had some experience of counselling skills. Back then, we went out into the community and saw people in their homes, so quite a lot of travelling was involved.

“After I left my job as a special needs teacher 18 years ago, I underwent formal training to become a counsellor.

“There’ve been lots of changes over the years and the bereavement service is far more structured now with children’s services as well as those for adults.”

Elspeth now has more time to spend with husband David, their three children and four grandchildren. She enjoys playing Bridge, visiting Dorset and is looking forward to travelling further afield again as soon as possible.

Elspeth Julian who is retiring after 33 years as a volunteer at East Cheshire Hospice.

Elspeth added: “I’m humbled that people have chosen to talk about their problems. The greatest joy has been feeling that I may have been of some help at such a difficult time.

“My message to anyone bereaved is that if you feel there’s something worrying you that you can’t happily talk to friends and family about, then consider speaking to a counsellor who will listen non-judgementally and not give advice but help you find your way through.”

Helena Smith, the Hospice’s Voluntary Services Co-ordinator, said: “The work Elspeth has done for the Hospice not only supports the people she directly counsels, but ripples out into their families as their resilience grows.

“These ripples, both big and small spreading out across the 30-plus years she’s volunteered for us, adds up to a remarkable contribution to our community.”

Corporate Challenge to Fund Bereavement Services

Bereavement services run by East Cheshire Hospice will benefit from the next Corporate Challenge in May.

Firms and other organisations are being urged to sign up for the fun competition in which entrants  raise as much as possible from a £100 start-up loan.

All proceeds will go towards the expansion of the Hospice’s bereavement services for which demand has increased because of Covid-19.

East Cheshire Hospice’s Bereavement Services Lead Helen Wilkinson said: “People are more isolated and their grief compounded by restrictions, meaning they can’t hug, meet a friend, or catch up like they did.

“Some people try to squash their emotions, or keep busy, before realising there’s a problem and they can’t cope. We’re seeing that now and the delayed reaction means we’re likely to see it in the future as well.

“We encourage people to talk about it, be open and seek help. Everyone has different experiences and Covid and lockdown has heightened emotions.

“Those grieving shouldn’t wear a mask metaphorically and friends, relatives and society can help by  listening and offer empathy.  Bereavement is hard anyway.  Now more than ever, people are recognising the need for support.”

Helen Wilkinson, Bereavement Services Lead at East Cheshire Hospice.

Last year’s Corporate Challenge raised £12,226 and was won by Equilibrium Financial Planning which has also entered this time, along with Leap 29. All profit made by teams during May is donated to the Hospice.

* For more details go to www.eastcheshirehospice.org.uk/corporate-challenge

New Adult Bereavement Service

East Cheshire Hospice is offering counselling to adults who have lost loved ones during Covid-19, even if they have no previous link to the Hospice.

Anyone bereaved whose emotional and mental well-being has been affected by the pandemic qualifies.

Their GP can refer them for professional psychological support from Hospice therapists.

NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group is resourcing the county-wide project with St Luke’s, Winsford, and Hospice of the Good Shepherd, Chester, also involved.

For East Cheshire it means extending services beyond families and carers of its own patients.

Adults affected by bereavement can access up to 12 sessions via Zoom or telephone.

The Hospice’s Adult Bereavement Services Manager Helen Wilkinson said: “We’re making people aware the service is there and those who’ve lost someone during Covid-19 are eligible.

“It could be someone anticipating death, a Covid-19 loss or the bereaved during this awful time.

“For instance, it might be a parent or spouse who died of another cause other than Covid-19, which you have been impacted from severely by restrictions in place during lockdown.

“Grief is a normal response and most people manage without professional intervention. However, for those who are really struggling to cope and for whom friends and family aren’t enough, then our psychological support services are available.”

Helen suspects there will be plenty seeking therapy.

She said: “There was already increased demand for our services due to Covid. In our area we’ve  recognised that more bereavement support is needed and require extra capacity.

“People are more isolated and their grief compounded by restrictions, meaning they can’t hug, meet a friend, or catch up like they did.

“Some people try to squash down their emotions, or keep busy, before realising there’s a problem and they can’t cope. We’re seeing that now and the delayed reaction means we’re likely to see it in the future as well.

“We encourage people to talk about it, be open and seek help. Everyone has different experiences and Covid and lockdown has heightened emotions. Some don’t want to bother ringing the doctor because there’s a pandemic while others feel isolated.

“Those grieving shouldn’t wear a mask metaphorically and friends, relatives and society can help by  listening and offer empathy.  Bereavement is hard anyway.  Now more than ever, people are recognising the need for support.”

Helen Wilkinson, Adult Bereavement Services Manager at East Cheshire Hospice.