Community Archives - East Cheshire Hospice

Musical Director Kath Ibbotson retires from Claritas Choir

Claritas, The East Cheshire Hospice Choir, hopes to give Musical Director Kath Ibbotson a rousing farewell at their Christmas concert.

Kath retires at Easter to spend more time with her family after leading the choir for almost 12 years.

Kath Ibbotson, who is retiring as Musical Director of Claritas Choir. 

As the search begins for her replacement, the choir will perform at the United Reformed Church, Park Green, on Thursday, December 14, from 7.30 pm.

The programme features carols and Christmas songs old and new.  Tickets (£8 adults, £5 under 18s) are available from the Tourist Information Centre, choir members, or on the door with refreshments available.

Claritas Choir which is preparing for its Christmas concert.

Committee member Marian Mackay said: “Kath is a hard act to follow, but we’re hoping there’s someone out there who’d like to lead Claritas forward in 2024.

“Claritas would like to record our thanks to Kath for her hard work and unstinting dedication to the choir. She has built the choir up from a small group singing a cappella, to a membership of around 50 singing in three/four-part harmony, accompanied by pianist Hilary Balsdon.

“Our repertoire has increased significantly during Kath’s musical directorship, allowing us to perform more challenging music and increase the number of fundraising concerts. In recent years the choir has donated more than £45,000 to the Hospice.”

“Although Claritas will never be the same without Kath, our loyalty to the Hospice means we’re determined to continue singing.” New members are welcome with rehearsals weekly during term time. Visit for more details.

Anyone interested in replacing Kath should email

Christmas Tree Collection 2024 countdown is on!

The countdown is under way to the trail-blazing East Cheshire Hospice Christmas Tree Collection scheme which is proving an inspiration to other charities.

Registrations are open for the 24th edition of the event over the weekend of January 13/14.

Around 130 other hospices now run similar fundraising schemes inspired by the East Cheshire Hospice model which is believed to be the largest volunteer-led Christmas tree collection in the world.

Volunteers ready to start the Christmas tree collection last January.

The scheme, sp0nsored by AstraZeneca, has raised more than £1.75m after another £150,000 was generated for patient care last winter.

Co-founders Pete Chapman and Richard Raymond have been out and about again advising other hospices since the last of nearly 7000 trees were recycled on their scheme in January.

Richard said: “It’s all systems go for us again in 2024 and hopefully the collection is just as popular.

“The other schemes started from our original idea and the inspiration we’ve given to them is the icing on the cake for us.

“Many have been in touch with us. This year for example, Pete and I have been to Leeds and Chesterfield and we had a Zoom call with a hospice in Scotland. I also went down to Harrow and Wealdstone and talked to them.

“Our message is that it’s an innovative piece of fundraising at a really important time of the year for hospices and you can build it to what you want.

Christmas tree scheme co-founders Richard Raymond (left) and Pete Chapman.

“The scheme has many spin-offs. It brings new volunteers to the hospice movement and obviously raises funds which is the crucial thing.

“There’s also the recycling element with the eco-friendly benefits, while it reaches out into the community and forms partnerships with commercial concerns.

“The other hospices think it’s a great idea and in many cases they’ve just needed the impetus and confidence. If they hit a snag, we’re on the end of a phone or email to answer any questions and point them in the right direction.”

Post codes covered by East Cheshire Hospice volunteers are once again CW12, SK9, SK10, SK11, SK12 and WA16. Collection vans will leave the Hospice in staggered starts.

Sponsorship by local business means all donations go straight to the Hospice. Organisers are already considering how to celebrate the 25th anniversary in 2025.

*To register visit

The BIG Quiz Night success

Where is the latest venue to host a quiz in aid of East Cheshire Hospice?

Full marks if the answer is AstraZeneca on Charter Way, Macclesfield, where 34 teams tackled brain teasers set by the charity’s quiz support group.

Quiz experts Waters Green Weavers came out on top, finishing three points clear of their nearest challengers.

Entrants included hosts AZ and other businesses, plus Marlborough Primary School the regular quiz venue.

Quiz 2 – The triumphant Waters Green Weavers team.

Twice as many teams took part due to a bigger capacity at AZ, which has the Hospice as one of its chosen charities.

Co-host Paul Morrissey, an ex-AZ employee and Hospice Vice President, said : “Initially we wondered whether we’d get enough teams to fill the space at AZ, but the fact we got so many teams was amazing and we even had to turn teams away on the morning of the quiz.

“We wanted a bigger venue so we could attract more teams and we succeeded in that.

Quiz teams ready to do battle at AstraZeneca.

“It’s no reflection whatsoever on Marlborough who’re also fantastic hosts. We have around three quizzes a year and our summer event which tends to be less well attended due to holidays makes Marlborough the perfect location.”

The quiz raised £5,000 with the next edition planned for early next year.

Hospice fundraiser Carley Macey said: “The quiz group have been running these fun nights for several years and once again there was a terrific response from supporters. We’d especially like to thank AstraZeneca for their help.”

Snap up a ticket to ‘Living in the 80’s’

The owner of a family company staging a show in aid of East Cheshire Hospice has been overwhelmed by the level of local business support.

Adlington-based Intersafety is hoping to raise £5,000 from a special concert at MADS Theatre on Saturday, October 14, at 7.45 pm.

Local Intersafety customers are snapping up tickets and programme sponsorship for ‘Living in the 80s’ by The Cinema Show, which documents significant milestones during that decade.

The instrumental group combine 80s retro sounds with large screen film footage.

Tony Skelton from Intersafety

Intersafety, founded 21 years ago, distributes personal protective equipment, clothing and workplace safety products.

Managing Director Tony Skelton commented: “I’ve been delighted at how willing and generous local businesses have been in supporting the Hospice by co-sponsoring this event with us.

“The charity is held in such high regard in Macclesfield, everyone connects with them at some level. It doesn’t matter who you speak with – someone has had a friend or relative who’s gone through the Hospice process.

“We asked our customers to support this concert and their response has been incredible. If we can raise £5,000, what a great story this is for the town in which we trade.

“All companies recognise the benefits commercially. It sends out a positive message and we’re all aware of our social and corporate responsibility.”

The show captures the dawn of mobile phones, MTV, Live Aid and outrageous 80s fashion.

* Tickets are priced at £9 (£5 for under-15s). Order online at

Former team-mates continue to honour the memory of football fanatic Col Smith.

Former team-mates continue to honour the memory of football fanatic Col Smith.

The Macclesfield Parish manager died of cancer in 2020, aged 52.

Col Smith

Ever since, two teams he played for – Parish and St Peter’s which are part of the same club – have staged an annual charity match as a tribute.

The latest encounter at St George’s Park, Windmill Street, raised £278 for East Cheshire Hospice where Col spent his final days.

A close game ended in a 2-1 victory for St Peter’s which meant they retained the Col Smith Memorial Trophy.

Players from Macclesfield Parish and St Peter’s at this year’s memorial game. 

Col, of Higher Hurdsfield, was ill for 10 years but stayed involved with club which plays in the South Manchester and Cheshire Christian Football League.

He combined a passion for football with his deep love of the Christian faith and was a member of Bollington Life Church.

Parish manager David Mayers said: “We continue to stage the match in honour of our friend and former player and manager. St Peter’s lead the series 2-1 after a draw the first year.

“We don’t have to push the players to take part. They want to be part of it because a lot of them have friends or relatives who’ve been cared for by the Hospice.

“It’s a big part of many people’s lives in Macclesfield and we’re delighted to raise funds for such a good cause.”

Bollington-based company supports Pie and Pint

Barry Jones licked his lips when he signed up for a Pie and a Pint challenge.

But he was unaware a 10k walk was also part of the East Cheshire Hospice event on Saturday, September 16, from 10 am.

Barry said: “I didn’t realise it was a walk – I thought it was just a pie and a pint, but never mind.

“I like a pint and enjoy a pie now and then. I play football occasionally and train my son’s team, but that’s about as energetic as I get.”

Madison O’Neill (left) and Barry Jones with Lisa Ball, corporate fundraiser at East Cheshire Hospice.

Barry works in the sales team at Cutler Cleaning Supplies Ltd which provides cleaning and janitorial products for the Hospice.

The Bollington-based company has also joined the 500 club which means it donates £500 to the charity each year.

Sales manager Madison O’Neill, who is a keen walker, will join Barry on the walk.

He said: “We support the Hospice as much as possible and regularly donate surplus stock.”

There are still spaces left in the walk, sponsored Holdcroft. To enter visit

The route starts and ends at Macclesfield Rugby Club, visiting Over Alderley, Mottram St Andrew, Prestbury and Dale Brow.

Under 18s must be accompanied by an adult or have written permission. Tickets include a non-alcoholic drink for those under age.

Walkers need to wear suitable clothing and footwear, preferably walking boots and waterproofs rather than trainers due to the challenging route. Entrants receive a pie and a pint at the finish.

East Cheshire Hospice goes for Britain in Bloom

Judges have been casting their expert eye over the gardens at East Cheshire Hospice for the Britain in Bloom awards.

The Hospice is hoping to win the hospice category at the RHS regional awards with the results announced next month.

Gardening enthusiasts have been hard at work creating a floral wonderland for patients and visitors after businesses answered a plea for help.

Volunteers from corporate supporters Leap 29 and Barclays helped dig and prepare the grounds before planting took place.

 Michelle Walker-Brown from the Hospice with Ryan Simpson (left) from Viridis Plants and David Hadley from Creative Gardens and Driveways

Bramhall-based Creative Gardens and Driveways, owned by David Hadley, organised a £1,000 plant donation from supplier Viridis Plants for the makeover.

David ensured expert horticultural advice was given. He said: “When I heard the appeal, I knew immediately that we had to help.

“Plants play such an uplifting role in our lives and it was clear the hospice recognised the comfort that spending time among nature brings patients and their families.

“It was an honour to help a local organisation in need.”

Volunteer Hospice gardeners played a key role in activities overseen by Michelle Walker-Brown, the charity’s general services manager.

Michelle said: “It has been a real team effort and we’re so grateful for all the help. Having peaceful and beautiful plants in the Hospice grounds makes a genuine difference to families.

Flower power…another donation arrives at East Cheshire Hospice.

“The community spirit is amazing, showing once more just how much the public and business care about our patients.”

Judges toured the revamped Hospice grounds, which include a sensory garden, vegetable and herb patch and a memory garden.

The Hospice’s green credentials have already earned a business award with sustainability at the heart of each outdoor area. For example …

* Water butts reduce reliance on mains supplies.

* Empty laundry liquid tubs were cleaned to grow strawberries and salad vegetables for patient menus.

* Baked bean and plum tomato tins gave new life to house plants.

* Old tyres from Hospice @Home cars were turned into planters, along with wooden pallets.

Wildflowers planted around the hospice grounds attract bees and butterflies.

Daffodils, tulips, crocus, hyacinth and snowdrop bulbs bloom each year around the grounds and in pots. Small Christmas trees replanted in a nursery area will be re-potted in internal gardens outside patient rooms and wards.

The Hospice was part of the gold award won by Macclesfield at the 2022 awards and is going for more glory after learning there is a hospice category this year.

MND Day’s poignant and emotional moment

The sound of a drum provided a poignant and emotional moment at the MND Day at Macclesfield Rugby Club.

Proud Sophie Usher banged the drum nine times in memory of her father Richard, a much-loved Macclesfield GP who died from motor neurone disease 18 months ago.

The number of hits honoured the No 9 shirt worn by Richard, a player for the club.

Organisers Jill Harding (left ) and Natalie Nye with Joel Millett (left) and Allan Nicholles.

Sophie’s symbolic act replicated Kevin Sinfield who became known for ‘banging the drum’ about the need to research MND.

At fundraising events Sinfield hits the drum seven times, signifying the shirt number worn by his close friend and former Leeds Rhinos team-mate Rob Burrow MBE, whose story about dealing with the debilitating disease has touched the nation.

The late Doddie Weir, another ex-rugby player, raised awareness about the illness before Sinfield took up the cause, completing several ultra sporting challenges to raise millions of pounds for MND research.

Jill Harding shows 18-month old Henry the route.

Jill Harding, co-organiser of the Macclesfield event, said: “Kevin Sinfield said he would have come along but for his coaching commitments with England Rugby Union on the day of the event.

“Sophie helped with social media and was one of many volunteers who helped make it such a memorable day.”

There is still time to donate, with proceeds shared between the MND Association and East Cheshire Hospice.

The JustGiving page for the MND Association linked to the event is still open and can be found at

Sophie Usher drumming up support.   

MADS theatre performers from Australia!

Fundraisers for East Cheshire Hospice come from far and wide – but rarely from Australia!

Yet a theatre group have travelled from Melbourne to Macclesfield to appear at MADS Theatre tomorrow night (Thur July 6).

The 12-strong ensemble will perform The Pirate Code, a musical about two women pirates. The slightly saucy true tale is set in the Caribbean in the early 1700s.

The show starts at 7.30 pm and theatregoers can buy a ticket on the door, or via the Mads website (

John Chandler from MADS Theatre. 

Tickets are £15 and profits will go to the Hospice.

The Nuworks company are also performing at four other UK venues during a week-long tour funded by themselves.

Macclesfield Amateur Dramatic Society are proud to host their Aussie visitors and hope theatregoers turn out to support them.

MADS management member John Chandler said: “They’re an amateur theatre group like ourselves and it’s great they’re coming from the other side of the world to perform in Macclesfield.

“Please come along and support your local community and most importantly your local Hospice. MADS have always supported the Hospice and we’re proud to do so again.”

Nuworks actors performing The Pirate Code.

The request to appear in Macclesfield came out of the blue.

John, whose roles include theatre hire and building stage sets, said: “Nuworks asked if they could use our theatre and we agreed to underwrite the show.

“We’re members of the Little Theatre Guild and I think they’d heard good reports about our productions. The group are similar to ourselves and write and produce their own shows.”

John saw Nuworks at rehearsals for another show on a visit to Australia earlier this year. He was there to visit his daughter Kiri who works for a charity out there.

John said: “It was quite fortuitous really that I was going out there anyway so I asked to meet them. They’re a great bunch of actors and we’re really grateful they’ve chosen Macclesfield.

The Pirate Code in aid of East Cheshire Hospice.

“It was their suggestion to donate ticket sales, once costs are met, to a local charity and there was only one choice really for us.

“Our theatre on Lord Street belongs to our members and can accommodate an audience of more than 190. It’s our 75th anniversary so this special visit helps us celebrate in style.”

* The next MADS production is The Cats Mother by Erica Murray, a black comedy which runs from September 11-16.

Hazel Buckley and her handmade goods story

Great grandmother Hazel Buckley is one of the oldest East Cheshire Hospice volunteers and one of the youngest at heart.

Hazel was 90 in February, but shows no sign of slowing down her knitting which she has done since she was seven.

Hazel, from Tytherington, helps by making handmade goods which raise funds for the charity through donations.

Knitter Hazel with great granddaughters Poppy (left), Amber and Olive (front).

Hazel said: “I’ve got a badge that says ‘When I’m sitting I’m knitting’ and that describes me perfectly. I knit whenever I’m watching television.

“I couldn’t not knit. My age is just a date on a piece of paper isn’t it? My brain is just as good as ever.

“My fingers are a bit arthritic and going a bit knobbly but they keep working. I’ll keep knitting because I enjoy the challenge.

“I don’t need a pattern and can make them up. I can crochet but prefer knitting and anything that involves using my fingers. I also paint and won second prize in a show in Sutton.”

Hazel was encouraged to knit by her mother Alice and was taught the craft at school.

Hazel Buckley with a selection of her handiwork.

She has volunteered for the Hospice for three years since going to a lunch there. Her handiwork used to be sold in a Macclesfield shop, earning enough to pay her grocery bills.

She makes gifts of all shapes and sizes, including matching Grief Bears and hearts, Easter humpties and festive designs and knits bespoke items to order.

Hazel said: “The Hospice does such a wonderful job. I don’t know how people can possibly manage without them.

“Staff are so nice and I’ve met quite a few of them. They’re lovely and devoted.”

Hazel and daughter Claire covered a bike with knitting to promote a bikeathon at Just Drop In, a centre where her other daughter Jain raised funds with a Kilimanjaro climb.

The bike Hazel and daughter Claire knitted over

Hazel has five grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren and was a GPO telephonist. She also worked as a summer temp on the main switchboard at Manchester Airport, situated in the Ops tower.

Hazel added: “It was the best job I ever had. It was exciting, especially with the buzz of working at the airport.

“The switchboard room was right on the side of the runway. We saw the planes coming in and dealt with flight inquiries as well as emergencies.”