Fundraising Archives - East Cheshire Hospice

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.

A Challenging Year

East Cheshire Hospice is predicting a big financial loss because of Covid-19.

The Hospice has been unable to hold a mass-participation fundraising event for over a year and has been forced to make redundancies.

Chief Executive Karyn Johnston said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the support from the community who’ve been incredibly generous.

“Like us, they were fearful and distracted by everything else in their own lives but they still took time out to support us and donate online, or do a fundraiser.

“Knowing that people are rooting for you like that kept us going and was the embodiment of the wind beneath our wings.

“Along with that extra goodwill, we had support from the government but we’ve been told that finishes on March 31 so we’re expecting a shortfall of almost £1m next year and have had to make some roles redundant.

“It’s a significant challenge to keep all our services going. It’s not like our service isn’t needed or we can cut back, because every single thing we do is around support for people facing incurable diseases.

“We’ve allowed visitors throughout the pandemic in a controlled and measured way and have done all we possibly can to make sure people are with loved ones right until the end.

“The PPE has been a physical barrier between the warmth, kindness and physical touch of someone who really cares for you.

“Our new Hospice @Home day time team started in April and that was absolutely needed.”

Staff members Jill Harding (left) and Tess Cleaver with the Hospice @Home car.

Hospice Chief Executive Karyn Johnston (left) and Assistant Nurse Practitioner Clare Preston welcome PPE from China in April.

Preparations For A Third Covid Wave

East Cheshire Hospice is preparing for a third wave of Covid-19 piling further pressure on the charity’s stretched resources.

Chief Executive Karyn Johnston says exhausted staff face a challenging period before a vaccine hopefully ends the crisis.

Reflecting on the toughest year in the Hospice’s history, Karyn said: “There was no respite for us when the country started to open in July and August.

“We realised we had to use that time to prepare for wave two because a consequence of getting together was that the disease spread.

“Now we’ve opened up a spreadsheet called wave three because we know Christmas is going to bring many new challenges in January.

“So we’re preparing for that and you’re piling this on human beings exhausted from what they’ve been through and who’re emotionally and physically drained.

“January and February is always a stressful time for us anyway because there are usually respiratory illnesses around then.

“We expect it to be much worse this year but there’s hope that by the end of March our frontline staff will be vaccinated. That’d be a huge step forward for us and very re-assuring.”

The Hospice, which started an asymptomatic test programme with Cheshire East Council, had to stand down all 675 volunteers initially. Around 50 are back, including a newly-created family liaison role supporting visitors with PPE rules.

Karyn said: “Standing down volunteers left a huge hole in our ability to perform the way we normally  did. All roles are vital and not many companies could lose around 600-plus employees and expect to function in the same way.

“Obviously the whole team pulled together and tried to fill those roles as best we could to keep the place going. We sorely miss our volunteers who amplify the humanity brought to our organisation in ways we didn’t fully understand until it wasn’t there.”

Caring for end-of-life patients has presented many challenges.

Karyn said: “We’re an organisation that operates in the extra mile zone so you can imagine how difficult it’s been for our front-line staff dealing with the present danger of spreading the disease but also turning to heartbroken family members and saying ‘no I’m sorry you can’t come in today.’

“That’s where the mental health of our team has been really challenged  – for a team that’s used to operating in the extra mile not being able to get there has been awful for them.”

Karyn Johnston, Chief Executive of East Cheshire Hospice.

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.

Natalie takes on Lbs 4 £s 2021

Lockdown left Natalie Catterall slightly overweight but she has found the recipe to get back into shape.

Natalie has joined Lbs 4 £s, a three-month fitness, weight loss and well-being programme run by East Cheshire Hospice.

The health initiative starts on Friday, January 1, so participants can start shedding the extra pounds from the festive season once they have celebrated New Year.

The sessions are online and on demand which means dieters can be flexible when they take part in classes and talks on topics such as nutrition and yoga.

Natalie took part 12 months ago, losing two and a half stones after giving up chocolate, crisps, biscuits and cakes and raised £570 through sponsorship for the Hospice.

She said: “I’d recommend the programme which is going to be even bigger and better this time. I’m doing it again because I put a stone back on because of Covid and general laziness.

“I wasn’t able to go to the gym and worked from home which was a novelty at first but then became tedious and isolating. Trips downstairs for a coffee and biscuits became too frequent.

“I found myself overeating so this health programme gives me a focus and I want to get fit again.”

Returning to the office at Northwich-based charity Cheshire Autism Practical Support has already helped her.

She said: “I wasn’t as agile as I should have been sat at a desk at home and became static and stagnant, but I walk a mile each lunch break with my office colleagues which motivates us.”

Natalie is from Macclesfield where her father David lives. Her mum Hilary Woolliscroft, who died in 2017, was a Hospice patient. Hilary was a primary school swimming teacher and Macclesfield Town fan.

Bethan Wade, Challenge Events Co-ordinator at the Hospice, said: “Walking into a gym scares some people but Lbs 4 £s will have an exclusive online portal for participants, giving them the flexibility to attend classes and talks when it suits them.

“They’ll receive  an information pack including special tips, recipes and vouches, plus access to one-to-one  sessions with nutrition, well-being and fitness experts. There’s free gym opportunities and help on sponsorship.

“This is a self-motivated programme but we want to provide the information needed to pull it off, surrounded by a group of like-minded people  looking to achieve the same thing.”

Places are limited. To sign up visit

Natalie Catterall and her late mum Hilary.

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.

Victoria and Jake’s 70 Mile Run

A taxi ride home after running for almost 17 hours was welcome relief for Victoria McKibben and Jake Crabtree.

The couple had run 50 miles from their Bollington home to Cannock Chase in Staffordshire to raise funds for East Cheshire Hospice.

They had intended to keep going for 24 hours but fatigue took over so they reluctantly completed the last part of their journey by taxi from Stoke, having completed 70 miles.

Victoria, a primary school teacher, said: “We’d set off at 10 am and ran most of the way along canals and country lanes, stopping only for short walking breaks.

Victoria McKibben and Jake Crabtree setting off on their 17-hour run.

“We tried to get all the way back to complete 100 miles but our bodies suddenly started to seize up at 2.30 am when the cold hit us. I could feel my eyes closing as we were running.

“We were chuffed to run 20 miles further than we’ve done before and beat our fundraising target by raising £1,025 for the Hospice.”

They had entered a challenge to run from Meriden in Warwickshire, but that was cancelled because of lockdown so they joined a substitute event in which runners attempted to run for a day from home.

Hospice Marketing Manager Amy Chatwood said:  “What an amazing effort by Victoria and Jake and everyone at the Hospice sends them our heartfelt thanks. They pushed themselves to the limit and we’re humbled and surprised at the lengths fundraisers go to raise money.”

* To sponsor Victoria and Jake visit

Virtual Light Up A Life Service

East Cheshire Hospice invites you to join its Light Up A Life service from the comfort of your own home.

The online ceremony, led by Hospice Chaplain Margaret Lillis, will be streamed via Zoom and Facebook Live on Saturday, December 5, at 3 pm.

The annual Light Up A Life service is by tradition an opportunity to remember lost loved ones.

However, because it has been such a difficult year for so many, the Hospice hopes others will also join the Christmas service to pause and reflect on an extraordinary 2020.

The remembrance event cannot take place at the usual venue St Michael and All Angels Church, Macclesfield, because of restrictions.

Instead, it will be held virtually at the Hospice Chapel where a Tree of Memories will be on display. The symbolic tree is decorated with personalised baubles dedicated by supporters to someone special.

Last year’s Light Up A Life service.

Bethan Wade, Challenge Events Co-ordinator, said: “The Light Up A Life service is one of the highlights of our calendar and this year takes on added poignancy because of Covid-19.

“People have suffered in so many different ways and Christmas is a special time to reflect and remember.

“I’m sure that this year we all hold those treasured times even closer to our hearts and we’re extending an invitation to as many people as possible to join us.”

Supporters can register  for the Zoom link by visiting A recording of the service will be available for those unable to watch live.

A Light Up a Life at Home pack can also be ordered via the website for £5.

The pack includes an order of service, candle, LUAL bauble, two festive tea bags, a mince pie recipe and a vegan and gluten-free mince pie recipe.

Bethan said: “The packs enable supporters to capture the full experience of this special service. Packs can be ordered on the web page in return for a donation which helps us continue to care and support patients, not just at Christmas but whenever they need it the most.”

People watching via social media can visit the Hospice Facebook page at the time of the service.

Bethan Wade from East Cheshire Hospice with one of the Light Up A Life packs.