Christmas Tree Collection Archives - East Cheshire Hospice

From music to mulching

From music to mulching … father and son Tony and Doug Skelton do not mind how they raise funds for East Cheshire Hospice.

Weeks after organising a night of musical entertainment, the pair will join dozens of other volunteers at the next Christmas Tree Collection on the weekend of January 13/14.

Tony will drive one of his company vans, while Doug fetches trees from driveways of supporters donating to the Hospice.

From left, volunteer Mike Brighouse with Doug and Tony Skelton.

It is not too late to register. Visit to get your tree collected. The deadline is noon on Wednesday, January 10.

Tony and Doug have already raised £8,706 for the Hospice from The Cinema Show, an 80s audio and visual show which drew a full house to MADS Theatre in October.

It was organised by Doug, who handles digital marketing at PPE firm Intersafety where Tony is Managing Director.

Last year was their first experience of the tree collection which has raised a staggering £1.75m for the Hospice since it began 24 years ago.

Doug said: “As rookies last January we didn’t know what to expect. We decided to give it a go and threw ourselves in at the deep end.

“It was utterly exhausting, but a good laugh and great fun. Tony does the driving and I lug trees, though he claims jokingly that he’s the only one who does a bit of everything.

“We all met up in the pub afterwards to celebrate our achievements and soon forgot about any aching limbs.”

Ansa depot recyclers playing their part in the tree collection scheme a year ago.

The Skeltons were joined by fellow volunteer Mike Brighouse and Hospice Director Sarah Dale BEM on their two days of travels.

Trees were mulched at Swift Tree Services at Adlington Industrial Estate where Intersafety is also located.  They will also be recycled at the Ansa plant at West Park this year as usual.

The scheme, sponsored by AstraZeneca, raised £150,000 last year. Sponsorship means that all proceeds go towards patient care.

Co-founders Richard Raymond and Pete Chapman also supported The Cinema Show which featured nostalgic musical interpretations of Live Aid, MTV, mobile phones and 80s fashion.

Doug said: “We had a phenomenal night and the response from sponsors was amazing. It was another example of local companies and supporters coming together in aid of the Hospice.”

Post codes covered on the tree collection are CW12, SK9, SK10, SK11, SK12 and WA16.

Jack Hartley has added an extra round to his deliveries

Paper boy Jack Hartley has added an extra round to his deliveries promoting the Christmas tree collection for East Cheshire Hospice.

Jack has been handing out leaflets on Sunday mornings to help a charity which means a lot to his family.

Grandparents Philip and Olwen Hobson, from Macclesfield, died within three months of each other in 2015 and both were patients at the Hospice.

Mum Carole works for the charity as a bereavement counsellor.

Jack is volunteering by distributing leaflets for three months to earn his bronze certificate as part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme.

Jack Hartley out on his rounds delivering leaflets.

Carole said: “Jack wanted to do something for the Hospice because of his nana and grandpa. Since he’s 14, there were limited options for how he could volunteer, so this has worked out quite well.

“I take him out and help him a bit, though he’s used to delivering because of his paper round.

“The Hospice is very special to us as a family and we like to help out and support whenever we can.”

Once the tree collection is over, Jack will deliver leaflets asking for volunteers to help those with dementia.

The Hospice runs a Dementia Befrienders service providing respite for carers and they need more assistance.

* If you can help contact

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

Pete Chapman’s Christmas Tree Collection milestone

Volunteer Pete Chapman reached a special milestone with the latest tree collection.

It marked 25 years since Pete and wife Heather first picked up a discarded Christmas tree, starting an incredible fundraising journey.

Their dedication was recognised with a presentation by Hospice Chief Executive Karyn Johnston after the latest collection.

Pete’s family began collecting trees for charity in 1999. Two years later they decided to donate funds to East Cheshire Hospice, a kind gesture which led to a relationship still going strong today.

Pete Chapman, Karyn Johnston and Richard Raymond

The initial idea came when Heather suggested collecting trees to help buy a new organ at Prestbury Church where son Andy, then 15, sang in the choir.

Each chorister was given £10 as an incentive. The family trailer was used to pick up trees and the couple realised the fundraising potential.

Pete said: “We used the £10 note to pay for petrol to collect trees from the neighbours and raised £600 for two charities. Everyone said it was a brilliant idea and asked if we’d do it again.

“We’ve been amazed by the scheme’s success over the years. It’s been beyond our wildest dreams and has inspired dozens of similar collections around the country.”

Christmas Tree Collection 2023 success!

Wind and rain did not deter volunteers who turned the East Cheshire Hospice tree collection into another major triumph.

More than 6,000 trees were collected last weekend in what is believed to be the largest scheme of its kind in the world.

Around £150,000 was raised as more than 250 volunteers staged a military-style operation to collect Christmas trees in a fleet of vans.

Volunteers ready to start the Christmas tree collection.

Richard Raymond, co-founder of the scheme, said: “What another amazing effort! Every year we are so lucky to get such an incredible response to our appeal from the public.

“That support comes from dedicated volunteers who always answer our call for help and those who continue to make generous donations.

“This year has been particularly hard due to the cost of living crisis, yet we still managed to raise as much as we have done in the last few years.

Helping hands… catering volunteers (from left) Sunflower Wellbeing Centre manager Helen Henshaw, Clinical Director Sandra Jones, Medical Director Dr Debbie Alexander and Trustee Louise Haughton.

“We have a long list of sponsors as well, led by AstraZenaca, who loyally stick by us and we must say a special thank you to them.”

The scheme has raised a staggering £1.65m in 23 years.

Volunteers over the two days included Hospice staff and workers at the Ansa recycling plant in West Park.

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

A mulching machine operated by CRJ Recycling, from Allostock, turned trees into compost, complying with the Hospice’s on-going eco initiatives.

Two traditions returned after a Covid-enforced absence.

The Mulchers Arms, a makeshift canteen for refreshments, reopened at the recycling plant, while a post-event drink at the Cock and Pheasant pub in Bollington also made a welcome return.

Tree collectors (from left) Tony Browne, Spike Elliott and wife Helen.

Volunteers taking part included Harry Whittaker, whose dad Clive played a key role in the route planning for collection vans, using sophisticated software.

Early starters on collection rounds were husband and wife Spike and Helen Elliott, from Broken Cross, whose crew included Tony Browne, from Macclesfield. The trio are all regulars on the volunteering front.

Ansa depot recyclers playing their part in the tree collection scheme.

Volunteer Harry Whittaker collects the first tree from East Cheshire Hospice.

Volunteers at Christmas Tree Collection

Volunteers Rob and Marion BoSmith have a unique claim to fame in the long history of collecting trees in aid of East Cheshire Hospice.

The Bollington couple picked up a symbolic tree that saw the fundraising scheme smash through the £1m barrier in 2019.

They only discovered their historic role in the tree collection scheme when they returned to the recycling plant at West Park late one afternoon.

Rob said: “We drove back to the plant and the first thing we knew was when everyone started screaming and shouting. Photographs were taken as champagne was sprayed over the van.

“It was pure coincidence that we happened to be the people who collected the tree which took the total beyond the £1m mark.”

Youngest daughter Astrid with Rob and Marion during the 2017 collection which was re-arranged due to snow. Astrid stood in for sister Imogen who had travelled from London for the original date.

Rob and Marion will be out and about again with fellow volunteers over the weekend of January 14/15 when the next collection takes place.

It is not too late to register. Visit

The couple will be joined by one of their three daughters, Imogen, who has volunteered before.

Rob, a helper for 15 years, will carry his chainsaw and cutters to trim any large trees.

Marion, a more recent recruit, said: “There’s an amazing sense of camaraderie. It’s a pleasure to be involved.

Rob BoSmith, a veteran of the East Cheshire Hospice Christmas tree recycling scheme.

“Everyone bends over backwards to be helpful, including those serving food, the van crews and staff at the Ansa plant who’re wonderful.

“They’re safety conscious and take the trees from us, while braving the elements all day.

“Everyone is buzzing all day as we exchange messages on WhatsApp about how we’re getting along.”

The scheme has raised more than £1.5m in 22 years. Post codes covered are CW12, SK9, SK10, SK11, SK12 and WA16.

The event is sponsored by local businesses, including main sponsors AstraZeneca, meaning all donations go straight to the Hospice.

Rob said: “We’ve been to all sorts of places. Despite living here for 42  years, we’re still discovering places we never knew existed. Everyone is so helpful if we can’t find a particular house.”

The couple met at the Wellcome Research Laboratories in Kent before moving to Bollington, running a corner shop attached to their home for eight years.

They both worked at AstraZeneca, Rob leaving to teach IT at Macclesfield College.

Marion said: “It didn’t take us long to get over any homesickness. It’s much nicer up here, where we’re part of a lovely community.”

Christmas Tree Collection January 2023

The Christmas tree collection in aid of East Cheshire Hospice will be back to normal in January.

Registrations are now open, with organisers promoting the eco-friendly benefits of buying a real tree.

The event – over the weekend of January 14/15 – raised a record-equalling £150,000 for the Hospice last winter.

Unlike last year, Covid restrictions are not an issue for the 23rd year of the collection, which is believed to be the largest in the world!

More than £1.5m has been raised in that time, thanks to the generosity of donors and dozens of willing helpers.

Tree collectors in Broken Cross in 2022. James Chapman (left), brother Chris and Caitlin Howarth.

Volunteers will be collecting trees over East Cheshire and beyond. The post codes covered are CW12, SK9, SK10, SK11, SK12 and WA16.

The event is sponsored by local businesses, including main sponsors AstraZeneca, meaning all donations go straight to the Hospice. To register trees visit

Trees are recycled into mulch at the local Ansa Environmental Services plant before being industrially composted.

It is estimated that around 500 supporters have been donating Christmas trees regularly since the scheme began.

Organisers are hoping to mark that loyal dedication for the 25th anniversary of the project in 2025.

Co-founder Richard Raymond said: “It’s hard to believe that we’re about to reach our 23rd year of collecting Christmas trees for the Hospice.

“We wouldn’t have got this far without the generosity of owners of Christmas trees whose kind donations make such a difference to Hospice care.

“The funds raised are a significant contribution towards caring for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their families and carers.

“It’s good to be back to normal again after the upheaval of the last couple of years.

“There are persuasive reasons why real trees are more eco friendly than plastic trees, most of which are manufactured in the Far East. These use low-grade plastics such as PVC which are almost impossible to recycle.

“We recycle every tree we collect into a soil improver for the benefit of Cheshire farmland.”

Collection vans will leave from the Hospice in staggered starts like last year.

Potted trees will also be collected. Richard said: “We collected about 20 last time and have someone who will grow them on to be sold next year as Christmas trees in aid of the Hospice.”

Flashback to January and Christmas tree collectors (from left), Steve Bower, Gary Richards and son Criss.

Christmas Tree Collection 2022 success!

Volunteers were out in force as the Christmas tree collection in aid of East Cheshire Hospice returned in style.

Organisers had to scale back last year’s delayed scheme because of lockdown and Covid safety concerns were again the main focus this time.

Early arrivals at the Hospice preparing for the Christmas tree collection.

However, the country’s most successful tree collection was able to go ahead on schedule in its 22nd year, with more than £155,000 raised for the Hospice.

Some 150 volunteers took part last weekend, with a fleet of vans shuttling between homes and the Ansa recycling plant at West Park, Macclesfield.

Ansa depot recyclers (from left) Dave Heeks, Steve Greenaway, Steve Worthington and Mark Birtles.

Almost 7,000 trees were collected and will be turned into compost for parks, gardens and Cheshire farmland.

Until two years ago the depot also housed the so-called Mulchers Arms, a makeshift canteen for refreshments.

This time refreshments were provided at the Hospice for volunteers whose shift times were staggered to prevent a large gathering.

Catering volunteers Kath Jones (left) and Lilly Tester.

The traditional post-event drink at the Cock and Pheasant pub in Bollington was also cancelled this year as a safety measure.

More donors contributed online this year when using the Hospice web page to register for the collection, which had AstraZeneca as main sponsors.

Richard Raymond, co-founder of the scheme, said:  “We’d like to thank everyone who played their part in making the collection happen again this year.

“It hasn’t been an easy time because of Covid, but the dedication, loyalty and generosity of donors, volunteers and sponsors has meant we’ve enjoyed another hugely successful year.

“The Hospice depends on contributions from our community to continue its vital role caring and supporting those in need.”

The latest collection brings the total raised by the scheme to more than £1.5m.

Long-standing supporters include Bosley-based King Feeders, which loaned a mulching machine,  and Cheshire Vehicle Rental.

The first collection team of the day. From left, Steve Bower, Gary Richards and son Criss.

Tree collectors in Broken Cross. James Chapman (left) brother Chris and Caitlin Howarth.

Nick Jenkins Christmas Tree Collection Volunteer

Bell ringer Nick Jenkins has been tuning up for the next Christmas tree collection in aid of East Cheshire Hospice.

Weeks ago he was out and about in Bollington where he lives putting up banners and distributing leaflets.

Nick is an area organiser for the hugely successful collection scheme, now into its 22nd year.

From left, tree collectors Clive Whittaker, Nick Jenkins and Richard Affleck

Like other volunteers, he will be riding round in a van picking up trees for recycling on the weekend of January 15/16.

Younger sister Suzanne will do the same, while their dad Graham is part of a fleet of drivers.

The family has been helping out with the tree collection for many years and they are also long-serving bell ringers at St Peter’s Church in Prestbury.

Bell ringers involved in the 2019 tree collection. From left, Richard Raymond, Becky Morgan, Andrew Robertson, Anna Howard, Nick Jenkins, John Wilson, Suzanne Jenkins, Peter Robinson and Graham Jenkins.  

Nick said: “My dad’s been doing the collection since 2007 and I started a few years later when I was 16.

“I tend to target tree sellers with leaflets from the end of November. It’s the best place really to have a presence for when people are buying a tree, encouraging them to register for our collection.

“Everyone’s very appreciative of the work the Hospice does and some people save all their yearly donations to the charity for this one event.

“We also get people coming out to tell us about family members who’ve spent their last days in the Hospice and how grateful they were treated with such dignity and care.

“There’s a great camaraderie among volunteers and afterwards we end up sharing experiences with different crews over a pint at the Cock and Pheasant pub in Bollington.”

Nick, whose late grandfather Denis Grundy spent his final days at the Hospice, combines his job as a ramp agent with Jet2 at Manchester Airport with weekly bell-ringing duties.

“Some people come to bell ringing from a musical interest and others from a mathematical  background because it’s about permutations and combining  different numbers. There’s also a lot of physical effort involved.”

Volunteers will be collecting trees over post codes CW12, SK9, SK10, SK11, SK12 and WA16.

The event is sponsored by local businesses, including main sponsors AstraZeneca, so all donations go straight to the Hospice. To register trees visit

2021 Christmas Tree Collection Total

The Christmas tree collection in aid of East Cheshire Hospice raised a record £150,000 this year.

Delighted co-founder of the scheme Richard Raymond said: “It’s our 21st year, so we’ve come of age with a bang.”

Around 1,000 trees were collected over three days last month once lockdown restrictions were eased – a sixth of the trees that would have been recycled had the collection not been postponed from January.

Most donors got rid of trees themselves and some who had not even registered also made donations.

The funds are enough to provide palliative care for three weeks at the Hospice which needs £7,500 a day to keep its doors open.


Tree collection co-founders Richard Raymond (left) and Pete Chapman.


Richard said: “We did get some bemused looks as we carried dead old brown Christmas trees at the end of April, but it gave us the opportunity to tell people about the collection and the Hospice.

“People knew about the plight of charities and the Hospice, in particular, because of Covid-19 and they were even more generous with their donations this year with the average amount donated per tree going up.

“It’s a wonderful indication of the community in which we serve that people put their hands so deep into their pockets. Their generosity is quite overwhelming and we thank them sincerely.”

Richard and fellow co-founder Pete Chapman will now get a break of a couple of months before they start planning the next collection in January 2022.


Volunteer Mel Curwen helps out during the Christmas tree collection.