Staff Archives - East Cheshire Hospice

The new look Sunflower Living Well Centre at East Cheshire Hospice

The new look Sunflower Living Well Centre at East Cheshire Hospice has welcomed its first patients.

The facility has undergone a major transformation to become one of the most modern healthcare centres in the region.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire Lady Alexis Redmond MBE officially declared the centre open after a nine-month building project costing £1.3m.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire Lady Alexis Redmond MBE cuts the ribbon to reopen the Sunflower Living Well Centre.

There to witness the ribbon-cutting ceremony were long-standing Hospice supporters Anna Rains, Thelma Jackson and Madge Slater whose fundraising exploits created the original Sunflower Centre in 2000.

The new complex on the same site adjoining the main Hospice building is equipped to meet a rapidly growing need for the Hospice’s services.

Patient and carer capacity will eventually more than double from a weekly rate of 179 to 400.

More services can now operate simultaneously and during evenings and weekends.

The new design in dementia-friendly colours allows natural light to flood the main room. Smart technology is also incorporated.

The interior of the new centre.

The work was funded by significant grants from The Hargreaves Charitable Trust, The Mather Family Charitable Trust, The Wolfson Foundation and Garfield Weston. The balance was met from the charity’s reserves.

Guests included Robbie Hargreaves, co-founder of Proseal UK which provided funds for a new Hospice wing opened three years ago, and patrons, trustees, ambassadors, vice presidents and volunteers.

Contractors celebrated the opening with staff, including project manager Mike Drew.

Chief Executive Karyn Johnston said: “This is an important day in the history of East Cheshire Hospice.

“I want to thank everyone who has supported us to make today a reality, enabling us to extend and develop our care to anyone, anywhere and anytime they need it.

The entrance to the new look Sunflower Living Well Centre.

“We’re delighted Lady Redmond, a fervent supporter of the Hospice movement, can be with us today, along with her husband Sir Phil Redmond, and our donors without whom this building would not have been possible.

“Our staff are the best team any organisation could ever hope to have.”

Lady Redmond said: “This is such a special place and I congratulate you all. The aim of the new centre is to be at the heart of the hospice’s commitment to making sure those with life-limiting illnesses are supported to live as well as possible right from the point of diagnosis.”

The Northern Chamber Orchestra, sponsored by CDL Software, entertained guests with a demonstration of Mind Music, a project exploring the effects of live music on those living with dementia.

Helen Trueman, CDL’s Internal Communications Manager, said: “We were delighted to sponsor the Northern Chamber Orchestra to play at the opening of the Sunflower Living Well Centre, and to be part of celebrating the addition of this wonderful resource for the community.

“CDL has a long-standing relationship with the orchestra who work to widen access to live classical music in a range of settings, including care homes, schools and in this case, by bringing through their ‘mind music’ initiative to East Cheshire Hospice. Congratulations to all involved.”

A glimpse inside the plush new Sunflower Living Well Centre

Helen Henshaw only wanted a new carpet for her beloved Sunflower Living Well Centre at East Cheshire Hospice.

Her wish was granted and she got a lot more besides.

Helen Henshaw, who has worked at East Cheshire Hospice for 25 years. 

A glimpse inside the plush new complex shows the scale of a stunning facility.

Helen, the centre manager, said: “All I asked for in the first place was to replace our dark carpet which wasn’t classed as dementia friendly and this is what we’ve ended up with!

“People with dementia can be reluctant to walk on dark colours. They feel it could be a hole or a puddle.

“The new centre is lighter and brighter and has opened everything up, using technology to give a new perspective.”

Staff toast the opening of the new look Sunflower Living Well Centre.

Helen has worked at the Hospice for 25 years. She said: “When I first came we had a small day care set up in one of the side rooms near the inpatient unit before opening up the main room in 2000.

“Now we have a built-in sound system and can dim the lights for relaxation sessions and project presentations on to a big wall.

“Before we were a general day care unit. Now we’re progressing into a wellbeing centre giving information and guidance on managing conditions.

Centre manager Helen Henshaw presents flowers to Lady Alexis Redmond MBE, Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire, watched by Hospice Chief Executive Karyn Johnston.

“People were frightened and apprehensive of the word hospice. We want this to be a community hub accessible to all where people feel comfortable and relaxed.

“We’re offering services from the point of diagnosis and want family and social groups to use these facilities.”

Luke Hughes, the newest addition to the Hospice’s fundraising team

March through March is the latest fundraising challenge announced by East Cheshire Hospice.

One of the organisers is Luke Hughes, the newest addition to the Hospice’s fundraising team.

The new initiative dares supporters to cover 300,000 steps next month while raising a minimum of £50 in the process.

Luke, a community and events assistant for three months, said: “March through March is for everyone, whether you’re a regular walker or just starting out.

“It’s your challenge and you can walk or run on your own, or team up with family and friends.

“Supporters can do it in their own time at their own pace and every step counts towards raising funds to care for patients with life-limiting illnesses.”

Luke Hughes who has joined the fundraising team at East Cheshire Hospice.

It is one of several campaigns Luke and colleagues in the fundraising team have lined up for the year.

He said: “We’ve a jam-packed programme of events. I’ve been at the Hospice for three months and love the fact it’s such a busy and varied role.

“That’s what I was looking for after completing my degree at the University of Leeds last year. I’m really happy here and have already seen that we serve such a close community.

“I helped with the Christmas tree collection and couldn’t believe the numbers of volunteers who came together to support the Hospice cause.”

Luke is co-ordinating a group of Hospice fundraisers taking part in a Born Survivor event at Capesthorne Hall on Saturday, April 27.

The Open Gardens event, in which supporters invite the public to their home, is another project he is closely involved in. A bungee jump and a 5k run with inflatables are also planned with details announced soon.

Luke Hughes who has joined the fundraising team at East Cheshire Hospice.

Luke is studying an events management diploma to increase his knowledge of the industry.

He said: “I worked in retail while I figured out what I wanted to do and discovered I had a passion for events and fundraising. The community side of it is new to me, but I love it and the job ticks all the boxes.

“I love the variety of the events industry and am excited by all the activities planned we’re planning at the Hospice.”

* To sign up for March through March visit the Hospice website.

The North Cheshire Business Awards 2023

The North Cheshire Business Awards 2023 turned into a major triumph for East Cheshire Hospice which scooped three prizes.

Trainee HR adviser Hannah Bentham was named the Apprentice of the Year, while the Hospice also won Charity of the Year and the Customer Service Award.

Hannah Bentham proudly shows off her award.

The gala ceremony at De Vere Cranage Estate featured 12 categories, so winning three awards made it a night to remember for the Hospice.

Hannah completes a two-year apprenticeship in April and is staying on at the Hospice after earning a permanent contract.

Hospice staff at the Business Awards. From left, Luke Oldham, Lindsey Rial, Rachel Allcock and Hannah Bentham.

She said: “I was surprised and delighted to win the award and I’d like to thank everyone at the Hospice for their warm welcome since I decided on a career change last year.

“I wasn’t expecting the award, especially as I’m a slightly older apprentice at 29 and there were three other excellent candidates on the short list.

“I worked as a wedding co-ordinator for seven years and when the opportunity came up to enrol on a course at Macclesfield College, I thought I’d give it a go.

“I love being at the Hospice. It’s such a nice place to work.”

Award winners at the North Cheshire Business Awards 2023.

Husband Tom has fundraised for the Hospice, notably by canoeing across England with his brother George.

The Charity of the Year prize will mean that funds raised at next year’s awards will be donated to East Cheshire Hospice.

The Customer Service award reflected the quality of the Hospice’s work in the community caring for patients, families and carers.

Knutsford recruitment for new Hospice @Home team

New jobs caring for patients nearing the end of life are being created in Knutsford.

A total of 15 health care assistant posts are being advertised by East Cheshire Hospice as part of its Hospice @Home expansion in the town.

The roles are funded by a major donation from husband-and-wife Michael and Jennifer Oliver, whose global business Oliver Valves has its headquarters in Knutsford.

The Hospice has launched a recruitment drive and will offer full training to successful candidates who join its Hospice @Home team. Previous experience in the health care sector is not essential.

The team will be based at Knutsford and District Community Hospital on Bexton Road working alongside GPs and NHS district nurses.

From left, East Cheshire Hospice @Home team members Gill Tomlinson, Tess Cleaver and Joanne Helm.

The Hospice already runs the Hospice @Home service in Knutsford catering for patients primarily in the last three months of life. This new service for patients with a Knutsford GP will extend that period of care and support to 12 months.

Hospice Chief Executive Karyn Johnston said: “This is a much-needed opportunity to help develop palliative care services in Knutsford. Staff will go out into homes to provide practical and compassionate care and support to patients and their families.

“By liaising closely with the NHS, our aim is to help patients to avoid hitting a crisis and having to go to hospital unnecessarily during their final year of life. Our research with the NHS and other local care providers also showed that patients from Knutsford, in particular, are often medically fit to leave hospital but can’t because there are no care at home services available. We can change that.

“This expansion will see more people getting the right care when and where they need it and, if the model is successful, it could be rolled out elsewhere in the areas we serve in East Cheshire. We’re targeting Knutsford as we know the town has unique care availability challenges.”

Anyone interested should apply via Hours are flexible over a seven-day week and pay up to £17.42/hr including weekend bonuses for experienced Health Care Assistants.

Karyn said: “We’re looking for people with some experience of care ideally, though qualifications aren’t necessary. These roles will also appeal to people seeking rewarding work that really makes a difference in the community. As part of our East Cheshire Hospice team, they’ll work in close collaboration with the NHS and other health care agencies.

“We, and the people of Knutsford, are indebted to Dr & Mrs Oliver who share our desire to improve care for patients with life-limiting illnesses in an area where their employees are based. We thank them for their extremely generous support.”

Hospice @Home nurse, Sarah Mills

Nurse, art teacher, volunteer and grandmother of 12 – life is never dull for Sarah Mills.

That is just how she likes it, juggling her many commitments.

Sarah has just completed 20 years as a bank nurse at East Cheshire Hospice, working an average of a shift a week on the Hospice @Home team.

Sarah Mills with six of her grandchildren.

Sarah, from Bollington, said: “Being a bank nurse means I’m like an extra, but I love it. It’s a brilliant job and allows me to manage my other commitments.

“I can control when I work. It sounds very privileged, but I’m able do lots of other voluntary things as well.

“I’ve been with the Hospice @Home team for about five years. It’s such a privileged job visiting people who want to be at home in their final days and who wouldn’t have had that opportunity before.

“We provide care and support for a family who may never have experienced an end-of-life situation. We can explain what to expect and hopefully, reassure and encourage them.

“We see the person in their entirety, surrounded by loved ones, as well as personal and familiar objects which provide comfort for them.

Sarah Mills enjoying the outdoors with her family.

“I’ve been a bank nurse all my career, including in the NHS. But the Hospice has such a different atmosphere with the time and opportunity to provide more sensitive and emotional care than is possible in the NHS.

“The Hospice has specialists in all areas and regular training provides a good base for all staff.”

Sarah is a member of the church council at St Barnabas and also keeps busy by supporting friends with needs.

She admits she is a better nurse than art teacher, a role she does to help daughter Katy who home educates her six children, the eldest of whom is 14.

“The children come round and we do drawing and painting, art appreciation, sewing and other creative media and have lots of fun. That takes up quite a bit of my time, but I thoroughly enjoy being the art teacher!”

Sarah and husband Cliff, a lawyer with the Co-operative movement, have three sons and two daughters.

Introduction to East Cheshire Hospice’s new Corporate fundraiser

Talented actor Luke Oldham has landed a new role – as corporate fundraiser at East Cheshire Hospice.

He admits he is still learning his lines after only joining the cast at the much-loved charity last month.

Luke will be centre stage liaising with a business community which continues to show huge support for the Hospice.

For example, the charity’s popular 500 Club, in which organisations pledge to raise £500 a year, now has a record 40 members.

There are also many other ways companies help the Hospice through their own events and sponsorship.

Luke in his role in ‘Bismal Boys about the 1979 fire strike.

Luke became a professional actor after leaving All Hallows Catholic College in Macclesfield.

He trained at drama school, performing several Shakespearian roles in provincial theatres.

Luke appeared at local drama festivals and toured Italy and Turkey with children’s shows, receiving award nominations for his work.

He left the professional theatre world, though, during Covid.

Luke said: “The industry closed down unfortunately when lockdown hit in March 2020. There was never a guarantee of work anyway and my priorities shifted.

“I wanted something different out of life and more stability.”

After working as a personal trainer, Luke went into sales, a field which gave him certain skills he can employ with the Hospice.

He said: “I realised that I wanted to do something where I was making a difference to lives which is why the Hospice is perfect for me.

“I’m excited by the challenge and have only recently arrived so I’ve a lot to learn on the job.

“I’m going out meeting supporters and creating and maintaining relationships with them.

Luke Oldham (right) with Hospice colleague Luke Brightmore.

“It’s a fantastic environment here, though I knew that before I came here having lived in Macclesfield for as long as I have.

“Everyone knows someone with a connection. It has touched everyone at some point.

“It’s so engrained within the community and has such a great reputation. If you were going to pick a charity to work for, it’s hard to find a better one.”

Luke’s acting career is still flourishing. He said: “I loved being part of it and still do, but I now treat acting more as a hobby than a career.”

Luke is a member of MADS and has started rehearsals for their next production Macbeth in which he plays the title role. It runs from Mon Dec 4 to Sat Dec 9.

He has worked with Northern Rep Theatre and performed in ‘Bismal Boys about Macclesfield fire brigade during the 1979 strike.

That production won best drama at the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival, while Not Being Mean, which Luke directed, won best comedy in 2022.

* For corporate Hospice inquiries contact Luke on

East Cheshire Hospice has been short-listed in four categories at the North Cheshire Business Awards

East Cheshire Hospice has been short-listed in four categories at the North Cheshire Business Awards.

The Hospice will learn the results at a ceremony at De Vere Cranage Estate later this month.

The Hospice is in the running for Best Organisation to Work For; Excellence in Customer Service; Charity of the Year and Apprentice of the Year.

Director of Quality and Innovation Sarah Dale BEM said: “We’re convinced we have a compelling case in each category.

“We’ve cared for hundreds of patients with life-limiting illnesses during the 18 years I’ve worked here, something I highlighted in our submission.

“That excellent care is delivered by a dedicated team which includes doctors, nurses and other health care professionals such as therapists, psychological support staff and dementia specialists, plus all our business support and fundraising teams.

“We work in partnership with acute hospitals, community providers and other local organisations to deliver care unique to each person.”

Meanwhile, the Hospice is advertising for clinical staff as part of expansion which will see further community engagement in Knutsford. It needs health care assistants (band 3) and nurses (band 6).

Sarah said: “Recruitment has been difficult across the whole health care sector since the pandemic and because of well-known pay review issues within the NHS.

“It’s different working here than in the NHS because of what we provide, but there are so many jobs available that people can pick and choose. Hopefully, they choose to come and work with us.”

* For Hospice vacancies visit

The first subscriber to the Memory Tree

The first subscriber to the Memory Tree scheme was Susan Washburn who was happy to support East Cheshire Hospice.

Susan will never forget how the charity helped her mum Mae Crandle who died in January, aged 89.

Susan said: “Mum was an inpatient for more than two weeks. She would have liked to have come home from hospital, but it would have been too difficult to look after her.

“Hospital was great, but the Hospice was a big change and staff could spend more time with mum.

“Mum loved looking out into the courtyard here and I think the Memory Tree is a brilliant idea. The gardens are so nice.”

Susan stayed in an adjoining room, supported by daughters Flora and Katie and family friend Nathan Azubuike.

Susan Washburn and daughter Katie by the Memory Tree.

Mae, from Glasgow, worked on the computer help desk at the National Nuclear Corporation in Knutsford.

Susan said: “I could hear nurses talking to her and it was just like she was their mum. It was just incredible and so perfect.

“But it wasn’t just the nursing staff. Everyone was so helpful, including volunteers and cleaners.

“You can take home your leaf after a year, but we’ll keep it on the tree forever.”

Daughter Katie said: “I wasn’t sure I’d want to come back here because it was where my gran died, but I’ve lots of good memories because of how kind the nurses were.

“They got to know her and us and really cared about her. It’s nice to be back.”

Memory Tree official opening

The first names have been engraved on leaves on a Memory Tree in the gardens of East Cheshire Hospice.

Each leaf is dedicated to the memory of someone special, even if they have no link to the charity.

The metal sculpture was unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by families who have joined the scheme.

It was held beside the Memory Tree which is located in a discreet peaceful setting and easily accessible without entering the building.

The Hospice is hoping others will follow suit by dedicating leaves to lost loved ones. The subscription cost is £10 a month, or £120 a year.

A total of 400 leaves are available with the name of a loved one engraved along with a message if desired.

Representatives from AstraZeneca, whose employees gifted the new memorial, attended the unveiling.

Hospice Chief Executive Karyn Johnston said: “The Memory Tree is a personal triumph for me. I’ve been with the Hospice for 10 years and when I first came I thought it was something we should have.

AstraZeneca employee representative Katie Morelli cuts the ribbon to open the Memory Tree watched by colleague Guy Camm (left) and Hospice Chief Executive Karyn Johnston and Chair of the Trustee Board Will Spinks.

“I want to thank those who’ve bought inaugural leaves and hopefully their kind gesture will encourage others to do the same to raise vital funds for the Hospice.

“I want to thank the gardeners who’ve created such a special place. We found during Covid that people needed a space to come and enjoy the quiet.

“We couldn’t have a more supportive partner than AstraZeneca who’ve been synonymous with the Hospice since before we existed when we were just a plot of land.”

Guy Camm, AZ’s Macclesfield Campus FM Development Manager, said: “The Memory Tree represents a fantastic long-lasting way to remember those no longer here and we’re privileged to be involved in this project.

“Our relationship with the Hospice goes back many years and there’s a special bond between AZ employees and the charity.

“As charity partners, the Hospice work with integrity and they innovate – the level of care they provide to the local community is unbelievable and we thank you for everything that you do.”

Hospice Chaplain Marion Tugwood said: “Today we dedicate this tree to the memory of those we have loved and lost and we give thanks for those who have facilitated its place here. We rejoice in the memory that our loved ones are still with us.”

* To sign up to the Memory Tree visit

For queries, contact or call 01625 665688.