Community – East Cheshire Hospice

Donations for Postponed Christmas Tree Collection

East Cheshire Hospice is hoping the public will let it keep donations made for the Christmas tree collection.

Refunds are available – or trees will be collected once lockdown eventually ends – but the Hospice hopes supporters will help ease its financial plight by not asking for donations to be returned.

However, it says it quite understands if people prefer a refund because trees cannot be collected on the weekend originally specified.

A Hospice statement said: “If you would like us to keep your kind donation towards the collection, you don’t need to do anything, and we thank you so much as this will make a real difference at this difficult time.

“If you would still like your tree to be collected on the re-arranged date, you don’t need to do anything, we will be in touch closer to the time with more information about this once a new date is safe and possible.

“If you would like a refund for your donation towards the Christmas tree collection campaign, please notify us by completing the form on our website.

“Please note, if we don’t hear from you to request a refund, your kind donation will be gratefully accepted and will make a real difference at this difficult time.

“Thank you for your continued support.”

To find out more about the postponed collection click here.

The recycling operation at an East Cheshire Hospice Christmas tree collection.

Christmas Tree Collection Postponed

Devastated organisers have apologised after reluctantly calling off the East Cheshire Hospice Christmas tree collection.

The decision to cancel last weekend’s collection was forced upon organisers after the country went into a new national lockdown.

A refund will be offered to more than 6,000 customers who had registered their trees on the charity’s website

Donors can decline that option if they wish, helping the Hospice financially during the toughest time in its 32-year history.

Another option is for customers to have their trees collected once lockdown restrictions are lifted and it is safe to do so.

However, it is unclear when this later collection can take place because of uncertainty over the length of the latest lockdown period.

It is the first time in the scheme’s 21-year history the collection has not taken place. Four years ago it was delayed by a week because of bad weather.

Organisers desperately disappointed by having to make the decision insist the scheme will be back in full swing in 2022.

Volunteers helping at a previous collection.

The cancellation is another serious financial blow to the Hospice as the tree campaign is one of its flagship fundraising events of the year.

Months of meticulous planning had again gone into this year’s scheme.

Officials had carefully considered safety restrictions caused by Covid-19, with volunteers and driving teams kept in family/support bubbles.

Further discussions were then held after the end-of-year announcement that Cheshire was going into Tier 4, with the decision made that it was safe to continue.

However, any hopes the collection could still go ahead ended once the third lockdown was imposed.

Organisers immediately halted tree registrations before concluding the collection could not go ahead.

A Hospice statement said: “We’re truly sorry we’ve had to make this decision but the safety of our community and all involved in making the collection happen must come first. Therefore, we must postpone for a safer time and follow the government’s guidance to stay at home.

“This is a devastating blow to the Hospice after an extremely challenging year for fundraising, having been unable to hold a major fundraising event since the last Christmas Tree Collection in January 2020!

“The collection is one of our biggest annual campaigns generating vital funds that we rely on to continue to provide our care. ”

Volunteers before last year’s Christmas tree collection.

James Bunker – Christmas Tree Collection Volunteer

*Please note that the Christmas Tree Collection has now been postponed and some information in this article may be out of date. For more information click here.*


James Bunker was not even born when East Cheshire Hospice’s first Christmas tree collection took place in 2001.

But the teenager is now a key part of operations as the scheme celebrates its coming of age this weekend (Jan 9-10).

He was just 13 when he first volunteered for the collection with his dad Richard by joining the team on vans collecting trees for recycling.

James, who is 20 in March, is still out on the vans collecting trees each January, but is also increasingly involved in the planning and co-ordination process, assisting organisers Richard Raymond and Pete Chapman.

He was on the helpline before and after last year’s tree collection, spending the actual weekend on a round with his dad.

Richard and Pete began the pioneering collection which now collects around 7,500 trees and raises in excess of £100,000 for the Hospice each year.

James said: “Richard and Pete do an absolutely incredible job organising and co-ordinating the collection each year, spending more than three months on the event with all the planning.

“I’m still quite young, but I’m keen to do as much as I can to help them and pick up tips on how it works so that in future years I can help as much as is needed.

“The Hospice are keen to ensure the long-term sustainability of the collection to make sure it carries on for years to come as it’s such a vital part of their fundraising.”

James is a manager in Wilmslow for Mitchell’s and Butlers who operate pubs, bars and restaurants all over the UK. He also freelances as an event manager for large-scale public sporting events and  works on major Hospice fundraising events.

James Bunker and Richard Raymond, co-founder of the East Cheshire Hospice Christmas tree collection scheme.

Route planning company 121 Systems optimises journeys for the 40-strong fleet of vans, a service it provides voluntarily to more than 50 charities.

Managing director Chris Sisson said: “There are a number of reasons we help East Cheshire Hospice. The collection brings the community together, donations go directly towards caring for patients facing challenges at end-of-life and trees are recycled so there are also environmental benefits.”

The company is one of many providing support, including main sponsors AstraZeneca. Organisers are asking tree customers to be patient about collections of their tree due to Covid restrictions.

* For any queries email or call the Customer Care Helpline 01625 708939.

Review of the Year – 2020

Face shields, fundraising and a special farewell marked a year that East Cheshire Hospice will never forget.

End-of-life care became much harder because of Covid-19 which prevented the Hospice from holding a single mass-participation event in 2020.

Nurses showed amazing character and spirit – their brave efforts honoured during the emotional  Clap for Carers tributes each Thursday.

The community came together during lockdown, raising much-needed funds with all ages showing incredible acts of kindness and dedication.

Tytherington School pupil Finley Foote raised an incredible £5,515 running near his Bollington home, while another youngster George Bailey climbed 108,000 steps.

Many were inspired by fundraiser Carl Lamptey who received messages of support from musicians and sports stars.

Face shields flooded into the Hospice, along with other PPE equipment. Students and staff at Fallibroome Academy produced visors, while volunteer Shelagh Julian put her sewing skills to good use making masks.

Musician John Jones has spent more than 30 years cheering up patients playing his accordion. His performances have raised more than £300,000 for charity, including £89,000 for the Hospice.

John lost his wife June in March but was determined the show must go on in tribute to his biggest supporter.

The Hospice made two key appointments in 2020. Experienced BBC broadcaster Nick Robinson was appointed a Patron of the charity, which cared for his late father Robbie, while Edna Keefe became an Honorary Vice President.

The news came as she retired after 32 years’ service. Edna’s first job was to clean the Hospice before it even welcomed its first patient and she later worked in the laundry room.

The pandemic led to volunteers standing down temporarily, the Hospice hoping to welcome them all back in 2021.


Fallibroome Academy’s Catriona Beynon hard at work making visors.


Finley Foote and mum Sarah on one of their runs.


Edna Keefe (left) with former housekeeping colleague Christine Jenkins.


Nick Robinson who became a Hospice Patron in 2020.


Accordionist John Jones who has raised over £300,000 for charity.


Nurses taking part in the Clap for Carers.

Christmas Tree Collection Hopes For A Bumper year

A surge in Christmas tree sales could benefit the collection service run on behalf of East Cheshire Hospice.

Organisers are hoping the sales bonanza increases demand for their service on the weekend of January 9 and 10.

Co-organiser Richard Raymond said: “Sales are up 25 per cent nationally and that’s reflected locally as well. Talking to our tree sellers around the place they all seem to be doing very well.

“We’ve had such a rotten year and maybe people want to go out with a bang and have a proper Christmas.

“People aren’t going away either. They might have been going skiing, or to the sun or visiting relatives and normally wouldn’t have a tree but might have one this year.

“We’re envisaging a bumper year and hopefully  everyone knows we’re around. How good would that be for the Hospice if we could deliver a bumper year for them when they haven’t had any mass participation fundraising?”

The collection covers Macclesfield, Wilmslow, Alderley Edge, Bollington, Prestbury, Poynton, Congleton and Knutsford. The post codes CW12, SK9, SK10, SK11, SK12 and WA16.

The collection, sponsored by AstraZeneca, has been boosted by a £2,000 grant from Macclesfield Town Council’s finance committee.

A council spokesperson said: “The committee know how much hard work goes into organising the collection and wanted to show their support, especially in such a challenging year.”

Additional corporate support, including van sponsors, covers costs enabling donations to go straight to Hospice care.

* To register visit

Staff at the Ansa recycling plant in West Park at the 2019 Christmas tree collection.

JTAPE Competition Winner Amy Griffiths

Nurses at East Cheshire Hospice are proudly displaying the artistic skills of one of their younger supporters Amy Griffiths.

The Sutton schoolgirl designed face shields which are being worn by Hospice staff.

Nurses at East Cheshire Hospice wearing the face shields designed by Amy.

Amy (14) won a competition run by Macclesfield company JTAPE which manufactures the PPE equipment and masking tape.

Art pupils at Fallibroome Academy were creative when teacher Dr Helen Jones told them about the competition.

Amy’s winning entry is decorated in rainbow colours with a smiley face and bears the words ‘After The Storm Comes the Rainbow’ – a message of hope amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Art student Amy Griffiths who won a design competition run by JTAPE.

Amy received a £25 Amazon gift voucher and could choose where 100 of her face shields were distributed.

There was only one destination for Amy who earlier raised £70 for the Hospice where her  late grandmother Pat Bailey was a patient.

Amy set up a stall on a public footpath near her home and sold her painted rocks, asking walkers to donate via an honesty box.

Amy said: “I wanted the face shields to be simple and make people smile. Everyone has been through a lot with the pandemic, so I wanted them to be bright and colourful and bring happiness.

“I love art and was amazed I won the competition and automatically chose the Hospice.”

Amy’s painted rocks which raised £70 for East Cheshire Hospice.

Mum Emma said: “My mum died 15 years ago and attended the Sunflower Centre. The Hospice has always been close to our hearts and we’re delighted Amy has acknowledged the support it gave our family.”

Light Up A Life Virtual Service

The Chaplain of East Cheshire Hospice, Margaret Lillis, will deliver a Christmas message of hope during the Light Up A Life service on Saturday (Dec 5).

The ceremony – streamed via Zoom and Facebook Live from 3 pm – will be even more poignant this year.

Margaret said: “Our message from the Hospice to everyone, is one of support, encouragement and above all, hope. It’s been a year no-one could ever have imagined and has brought sadness and anxiety on a scale never known.

“We at the Hospice acknowledge this and offer the hand of friendship, support and understanding to everyone and anyone we can reach.

“We’re very much aware that our physical contact has been curtailed throughout this pandemic, but that certainly doesn’t mean that our level of concern and compassion is in any way diminished.

“Slowly but surely we’re working hard to continue building and strengthening the bonds between ourselves and anyone who’s had dealings with the Hospice.

“Next year we hope to reach out and support even more people whose experience of pain and loss was made even more severe by restrictions in place due to Covid 19.”

The annual Light Up a Life remembrance service, conducted from the Hospice Chapel this year, is as always open to the general public.

The service allows people to pause and reflect on an extraordinary 2020.

Margaret said: “Despite all the pain, loss and distress of this past year, perhaps we can recognise some positive aspects?  Maybe we’ve re-learned to appreciate those we love and to have more consideration for our neighbours.

“Maybe we know more than we ever did before that we can take nothing for granted. Maybe we now have a deeper understanding of gratitude and realise  – sometimes painfully –  that life is precious and all the good things of life are pure gift.

“With this in mind, let us go forward together, sharing the light of faith, hope and love with confidence and generosity.”

To register for the Zoom link visit A recording of the service will be available for those unable to watch live.

To watch on social media go to the Hospice Facebook page at 3 pm on Saturday.

Margaret Lillis, Chaplain at East Cheshire Hospice, who will deliver an online Light Up A Life service on Saturday.

Virtual Quiz Winners

A former winner of the BBC Mastermind programme was among contestants in the latest quiz in aid of East Cheshire Hospice.

Liz Horrocks, who won the prestigious TV show in 1974, teamed up with husband Shaun for the online quiz.

The couple came third behind winner Ashton Davies and Torside Queens as the event raised £800 for the Hospice.

It was run again by the ECH Quiz Team which has held five virtual quizzes during lockdown, raising an impressive £6,456.

It is the most donated by the group in a single year since regular quiz hosts Paul Morrissey and Mark Watson asked the first question seven years ago. There have been some 23 quizzes, raising just over £37,000.

The top three teams are members of Macclesfield Quiz League which is on the lookout for new members (

Liz plays for the Dolphin Dragons, one of two teams based at the Dolphin Inn pub on Windmill Street.

The retired teacher enjoys writing poetry, while Shaun is chairman of the Macclesfield Model Railway Group, hence the Poetic Puffers for their team name.

Liz has her own Wikipedia page and wrote an Arthurian Trilogy, the first of which The Edge of Doom was set near her Alderley Edge home.

Liz said: “I like quizzes and was thrilled to win Mastermind a long time ago. I’ve got what my daughter calls a sticky mind, although I trail behind quite a few quiz members in our league.”

Former Mastermind winner Liz Horrocks and husband Shaun.

Mark said: “The online quizzes were multiple choice with the quickest answers earning more points.  We try to strike a balance with questions. It’s a bit of fun for a good cause and we’d like to thank everyone for supporting us.”

Ashton, an English teacher from Poynton, took part by himself and normally plays for Church House, Bollington. He said: “It gave me an advantage because I didn’t have to confer with anyone!”

Last year Ashton took part in the BBC Radio 4 general knowledge quiz Brain of Britain, appearing in the same heat as Alice Walker from runners-up Torside Queens.

Ashton Davies, winner of the East Cheshire Hospice quiz.

Alice and partner Haydn Thompson play for the Queens Hotel in Waters Green and they have been on the TV quiz show Eggheads plus other shows, including Fifteen To One and Countdown.

Alice Walker and Haydn Thompson, runners-up in the  Hospice quiz. 

Christmas Tree Collection 2021

The East Cheshire Hospice Christmas Tree Collection is still going ahead despite Covid-19.

Organisers are having to make changes for the service on the weekend of January 9-10 to comply with government guidelines.

The collection is a major fundraiser for the Hospice which has lost serious revenue because of the pandemic.

Therefore organisers are requesting the public to once again support the campaign, with a special plea to those with plastic trees to also make donations.

The collection covers the same areas as before which means Macclesfield, Wilmslow, Alderley Edge, Bollington, Prestbury, Poynton, Congleton and Knutsford. The post codes are CW12, SK9, SK10, SK11, SK12 and WA16.

Co-organiser Richard Raymond said: “We have to be Covid secure in our running of the service so there can only be two people on a van unless they’re a family bubble.  That means we’re going to be slower and we ask for patience and understanding.

“We can’t have large gatherings of volunteers which means we’ll change the way we run our safety briefing.  Unfortunately, we’re only going to be able to have experienced collectors or volunteers so we won’t be able to entertain any newcomers this year.

“In addition, because we’re having to be socially distant we can’t offer the same welfare facilities to volunteers in terms of being able to look after their meals so it might mean packed lunches.

“The main thing to stress as far as volunteers or our partners, such as the Ansa recycling depot, is that we must be Covid secure to adhere to whatever guidelines are in place at the time.”

The collection, sponsored by AstraZeneca, is about to enter its 21st year, raising more than £1.1m for the Hospice. More sponsors are encouraged to come forward.

Richard said: “The Hospice needs the money now more than ever after cancelling its fundraising events.  We don’t know how many people will buy real Christmas trees this year.

“We’ve all gone on the internet and had goods delivered to our doors. Will people do that with a plastic tree? We hope not and are putting out the message as strongly as possible that plastic trees aren’t environmentally friendly unlike real trees.

“The fact we’re still around and will collect those trees for recycling should hopefully be a factor in for people deciding whether to get a real tree or not.”

* To register and find out more visit

The safety briefing for the 2020 East Cheshire Hospice Christmas Tree Collection.

Brian Jenkins Obituary by John Jones MBE

“I started playing the accordion for charity in 1991, mainly in Macclesfield Hospital, and the Grosvenor Shopping Centre. I made many friends in the Macclesfield area, who enjoyed my music, and as a member of the Stockport Accordion Orchestra, l thought it would be wonderful for the orchestra to do a public performance to fundraise for charity.

In 1999, l suggested the idea of performing a concert in Macclesfield for the East Cheshire Hospice, with our conductor Brian Jenkins.
He was very supportive of the idea, and we played our first concert in October 1999, at Fallibroome School, which proved to be a wonderful evening’s entertainment, with an audience in excess of 170 people.

Brian suffered ill health for the next two years including a major operation, and upon returning to good health, he was very enthusiastic to conduct another concert to support the hospice, which we did in December 2002 at Broken Cross Club, Macclesfield.

Since then we have done a hospice concert every year, and this year’s concert, ‘which we still hope to do on Fri 4th Dec.’, will be the 20th event.

For the orchestra, these concerts have become our highlight of the year, like a family reunion, and over the years we have built a wonderful comradely with the audience, and Broken Cross Club, who look forward to it with great enthusiasm, in supporting the Hospice.

Brian conducted the orchestra until 2011, when sadly ill health again meant he was unable to carry on, he was a wonderful person and held in high esteem by everyone who had the pleasure to meet him.
After being in a nursing home, Brian passed away from Covid this month. RIP.”

– John Jones MBE.

Brian Jenkins, conductor of Stockport Accordion Orchestra