Staff Archives - East Cheshire Hospice

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.

East Cheshire Hospice honoured team members at its long-service staff awards

East Cheshire Hospice honoured team members at its first long-service staff awards since Covid.

Lady Alexis Redmond MBE, Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire, presented certificates to staff at the celebration event at The Tytherington Club.

Hospice Trustee Board members, including Chair Will Spinks, attended the ceremony, along with Chief Executive Karyn Johnston.

Lady Redmond congratulated staff on their commitment to palliative care, while Will recognised that collectively they had amassed 175 years of service to patients and families.

Sarah Mills, a nurse for more than 20 years and now part of the Hospice @Home bank team, was among recipients.

Sarah Mills (centre) receives her long service award from Lady Redmond MBE, Lord- Lieutenant of Cheshire, and Will Spinks, Chair of the Hospice Trustee Board.

Staff celebrate at the long service awards at Tytherington.

Sunflower Centre nurse Joan-Marie Williams and Loretta Eason, an assistant there after starting as a nurse on the inpatient unit, were recognised for 15 years of service.

Awards for 10 years went to Clinical Co-ordinator Gill Tomlinson; Finance Director Shelley Seabourne and Supporter Care and Lottery Manager Carol Frain.

Reaching five years’ service were:

* Helen Singleton, from the Hospice @Home Rapid Response Service.

* Helena Smith, Voluntary Services and Community Befriending Lead.

* Susan Robinson, Healthcare Assistant.

* Amanda Stell, Finance Officer.

* Hannah George, Hospice @Home Sister.

* Helen Wilkinson, Adult Bereavement Services Lead.

* Jackie Harding, Supporter Care Assistant, Income Generation.

* Caroline Allen, Skills Support HCA.

* Conor Stubbs, Head of IT.

* Lisa Powell, Clinical Co-ordinator.

* April Green, Key Relationships Manager.

* Sharon Hurley, Sunflower Centre development.

* Louise Gorton, Handforth Shop Manager.

Accordionist John Jones was also recognised for fundraising over more than 30 years.

Hospice Fundraising Assistant Nik Kalka

Nik Kalka admits he often struggled with answers at quizzes in aid of East Cheshire Hospice.

He was too busy serving drinks from the bar, but he knew instantly what answer to give when offered a job as a fundraiser at the charity earlier this year.

His enthusiastic reply was an emphatic Yes to a cause which is close to his heart for so many reasons.

The best reason of all was remembering how well the Hospice cared for his close friend Sam Burt.

Sam Burt who was cared for by East Cheshire Hospice.

Sam, who grew up in Sutton, had been diagnosed with a brain tumour 10 years earlier. The IT technician at Fallibroome Academy died in 2017, aged 27.

Nik said: “Sam was involved with the quizzes for four years until he passed away in 2017 after helping raise more than £16,000 for the Hospice.

“Ironically, that was about the amount it costs to pay for the care for the three days and two nights he spent at the Hospice.

“He was determined to make the best out of life despite his diagnosis. The odd seizure slowed him down, but he still threw himself into everything.

“Sam had time for everyone and was a genuinely kind and friendly guy.

“He got lots of support accessing the Hospice services. It’s a special place, something I already knew before I came here.

“But once I joined and understood more about the Hospice, its different services, the staff and how they treat patients and each other, it’s even more special than I imagined.

“It’s quite unique and universally loved within our region.

“Once someone has experienced our services, they invariably become a lifelong supporter.”

The regular quiz nights at Marlborough Primary School were not Nik’s first introduction to East Cheshire Hospice.

Nik Kalka taking the strain during a fundraising event for East Cheshire Hospice by carrying fellow supporter Rob Gorton.

He said: “I knew the quiz answers, but they weren’t necessarily the right ones!

“I first came to the Hospice in 2003 as a teenager in the army cadets when I helped at fetes.

“Then I got involved with the quiz nights through Sam Baker, from Olympus Trophies, a long-standing supporter of the Hospice.

“A quiz support group run by Alison Brammer, Paul Morrissey and Mark Watson was set up in 2013 and these events are still hugely popular, raising vast sums for the Hospice.

“Marlborough Primary School have been incredibly helpful, as have Storm Brewing.

“It’s a privilege to work at the Hospice which means so much to me.”

East Cheshire Hospice and BNI networking group

Joining a business network group was an inspired move by corporate fundraiser Lisa Ball.

No sooner had she signed up to BNI Silk than the floodgates opened with offers of support for East Cheshire Hospice where she works.

So much so the kind-hearted business group has donated £22,662 to the charity from fundraising initiatives.

A bumper total considering Lisa only joined the Macclesfield-based organisation in January.

Lisa Ball (centre) and East Cheshire Hospice colleague Rachel Allcock (second right) with BNI Silk members (from left) Leanne Findler, Angela Highton, Kevin Cook, Lee Shore and Joe Etherington.

Fellow members of the 28-strong group were so impressed by what they heard about the Hospice from Lisa that they swung into action and participated in various activities.

Lisa said: “BNI Silk members have been amazing. They’ve listened to what the Hospice needs and done their utmost to support us.

“The business group meet every week which is lovely and it’s been great to see so many familiar faces from my BNI family turn up at fundraisers to do their bit.

“I joined the group to extend the hospice’s reach and gain new contacts – the fundraising support has been an added bonus!”

Seven BNI Silk members took part in Born Survivor at Capesthorne Hall, raising £1,285, while an email marketing campaign was gifted by Lee Shore of Macclesfield company Merrehill, a gesture which generated income of £11,500.

Members took part in the Starlight Walk, attended quiz nights and donated more than 1,000 Crème Eggs.

Nick Stratford, of Stratford Solicitors, in Poynton, donated £3,600 from unclaimed funds. There have been plenty of other activities by members as well.

Arman Kizir, of Luna Film, is donating a promotional video for the Hospice’s Fire and Ice Walk at Macclesfield Rugby on Thursday, November 9.

Others donated plants for the Hospice, while gel sachets for participants in the Great Manchester Run in May.

BNI Silk President Kevin Cook said: “Lisa’s passion for the hospice is infectious and inspired us all to do our bit for this amazing local facility which benefits so many people from across the area.

“I’m really delighted with everyone’s enthusiasm. Our business group is all about supporting each other to grow and develop our businesses, so I shouldn’t really be surprised at the effort everyone has made.”

BNI Silk meet at Macclesfield Golf Club on Thursdays from 6.45 am until 8.30 am.

To find out more about the group email

During the last 12 months members of Silk BNI have referred more than £3.74m worth of business to each other.

Kevin Sinfield OBE has backed East Cheshire Hospice’s latest venture

Prolific fundraiser Kevin Sinfield OBE has backed East Cheshire Hospice’s latest venture.

The former Rugby League star sent a goodwill video message to fundraisers at an inaugural event to raise awareness of motor neurone disease.

The special MND day at Macclesfield Rugby Club raised almost £4,000, with proceeds shared between the MND Association and the Hospice.

Walkers take part in a wheel challenge

Supporters completed laps of the car park on wheels, an idea inspired by carer Jan Gates and implemented by Hospice senior physiotherapist Natalie Nye who organised the pilot event along with colleague Jill Harding.

Jan, whose husband Mike has MND, attends popular monthly support meetings which have been at the Hospice since 2017 and are led by a team of health professionals from there.

Jill, a health care assistant, said: “Considering the progressive  nature of the disease, those who attend our MND Wellbeing Days are the most upbeat positive people you could ever wish to meet and they’ll usually find a reason to laugh about something during the session.

“They’re a unique group of people and I can’t pay them a big enough compliment.”

Patients and carers are invited to attend the monthly Wellbeing sessions where a topic is discussed each time.

Subjects range from managing fatigue, advice about sleep and relaxation, advanced care planning, aids to communication and travel help.

The inaugural motor neurone day was a huge success.

Carers access peer support in a separate room and both patients and their carer can enjoy a relaxing complementary therapy during the sessions which are supported by volunteers including trained visitors from the MND Association.

Jill said: “It was about raising awareness of MND in collaboration with the Hospice. We couldn’t hold it there because of ongoing refurbishment work at the Sunflower Wellbeing Centre and Jan had the idea of patients and relatives doing laps using wheels as a mode of transport.

“We had wheelchairs, wheelbarrows, scooters and bikes and everyone joined in the spirit of the occasion for two great causes. The rugby club were brilliant hosts and we plan to make it an even bigger event next year.”

Natalie and Jill dressed as sunflowers to represent the Hospice emblem and volunteered for an ice bucket challenge in lieu of a minimum £50 charity donation. Prizes were donated and cake sales boosted the fundraising total.