Uncategorised Archives - East Cheshire Hospice

Chess ICT take on the Corporate Challenge

Colleagues of proud brother and sister Chris and Grace Wright are helping them pay tribute to their late mum.

Julie Wright was the first employee at technology services provider Chess ICT where she was Operations Director.

Julie, from Tytherington, was cared for by East Cheshire Hospice when she died of cancer in 2013, aged 51.

Ever since Chess ICT has been a regular supporter of the Hospice, signing up for its latest Corporate Challenge campaign.

Sales leader Chris and Grace, from HR, are among 350 staff nationwide undertaking fundraising initiatives in May.

All are receiving Smarties with a request to fill tubes with coins once they have eaten the chocolate.

Chess ICT Head of Culture Tim Wilkinson-Hall said: “No-one uses cash anymore, so we want colleagues to donate loose change, with prizes including the quickest response and the most amount.

“The company is also donating £1 every time someone is nominated for doing a good deed for a colleague.

“Many of our employees are from Macclesfield and we’ve always supported the Hospice as corporate partners.

“We support them whenever we can because of how they supported Julie and her family. Julie was very well known in our business and is remembered with affection.”

Chess ICT has refurbished its Alderley Edge headquarters where 150 staff were based before lockdowns.

More than half may continue home working, even as restrictions ease.

Tim said: “Many employees prefer to work from home for more time with family. Our company is doing really well and recruiting again. We’ve recently donated old laptops to schoolchildren and charities.”

Chief Executive and founder David Pollock said: “It’s vital modern business plays a part in the wider community and it’s great for employee engagement. We’ve had staff jump out of planes, run 10ks, bake cakes and dress up in silly clothes. Activities bond them together and binds them with the community. It’s also good for business.

“The Hospices does phenomenal work in our community looking after people at the end-of-life and we’re delighted to support such a much-loved charity.”

Other participants in the Corporate Challenge are Kuehne+Nagel, Equilibrium Financial Planning, McCann, Pan European Networks, Leap 29 and Spirit Medical Communications. The aim is to raise as much as possible from a £100 start up loan during May.


Sales leader Chris Wright (front right) with his team from Chess ICT tackling Snowdon in 2019 as part of the Hospice’s Corporate Challenge. 

Hospice ‘Time to Remember’ Service Goes Virtual

The monthly Time to Remember Service enables families of East Cheshire Hospice patients to remember and honour departed loved ones.

The Hospice has started uploading the Services – held in the Hospice Chapel on the second Sunday of each month – on to its website.

Hospice Chaplain Margaret Lillis leads the Service, assisted by Chief Executive Karyn Johnston and volunteer Bridget Fenwick.

They light a Remembrance Candle, and those who died three months earlier while accessing Hospice Services  through the Inpatient unit, Sunflower Centre or Hospice @Home, are remembered as their names are read out.

A recording is uploaded around 24 hours later for families to watch at their leisure.

The Hospice may carry on broadcasting the Services even when families are again permitted to attend the Chapel.

It is uncertain when that might happen, with September a possibility.

Margaret said: “The Services are now recorded and uploaded on to our website. It enables us to reach more people, especially as we don’t yet know when social gatherings will allow people to mix more freely.

“We send an invitation and service sheet with a list of names to next of kin three months after they’ve lost someone, although people are welcome after then.

“It’s important that everyone feels included. Services are about care, compassion and humanity and are open to all – people of all faith, no faith and everyone in between. We hope they help to remind people that they’re cared for and remembered, particularly at this time.”

East Cheshire Hospice Chaplain Margaret Lillis.

Easter Thought from our Chaplain

A thought for Easter

As I write this, the birds are singing, the sky is a beautiful blue, and the sun is shining – all signs that Spring has arrived! Unlike April 2020, when it seemed – and indeed proved to be true, that things could only get worse -in this Spring of 2021, we have the joy and relief of knowing that we are slowly, gently and cautiously entering back into LIFE!

Hopefully, we do this with a deepened sense of gratitude, reminding ourselves that we must never again take life, our environment and each other, so much for granted. If we do forget, let’s be grave enough to remind each other. The Covid 19 pandemic brought home to us that as human beings, we really do need each other; that our environment, which we have treated so badly and with such disregard for so long, is a precious gift; that being generous with our love, kindness and concern is the only way we will ever get through difficult times. Hopefully, we have gained a new sense of respect for our fellow human beings – no matter who, no matter where from – and that this earth and its gifts are here for all, to be shared by all.

This is a good thought for Easter. For many throughout the world, the joy of Easter is that it is the celebration of the core of the Christian faith – the promise of fullness of LIFE for all. The Resurrection of Jesus is much more than an event that occurred centuries ago, marked by the consumption of countless Easter eggs. It is thanksgiving for the gift of life which is promised to us forever. For those who do not share this belief, the celebration of Easter at Springtime, still gives that feeling of being glad to be alive – so we can all enjoy a good time! And remember, the season of Easter lasts for 6 weeks!!!!

May the joy and blessings of new life and new beginnings fill us all with hope. And may the sun keep shining warmly on our gardens our family and friends, and all our wide open spaces…especially our hearts!!



Remembrance Day 2020

Let Us Remember

We come to Remembrance Day this year, as a different kind of disaster is affecting the whole world, making our act of remembrance more poignant. Whether loved ones died 50 years ago, 20 years or 10 years or just a few months ago, the feeling of loss goes very deep, and the desire to remember never diminishes. In fact, the events of this year, have perhaps highlighted the importance of remembrance, respect, and gratitude.

Last week, the Queen made a solo journey to the tomb of the Unknown Warrior, marking the centenary of that monument, which commemorates the memory of all the fallen from all walks of life, who sacrificed their lives for the sake of others. This serves as a reminder to us that every single person matters, every single person deserves respect, every single person deserves care and consideration. If there is any lesson to be learned from war, it is that it is destructive. We show respect and gratitude to those who suffered and died in the wars of the 20th & 21st centuries, by striving to be constructive, aiming to build a better world where everyone is treated with the respect and consideration which is their due. This is the point of REmembrance, which is all about RE-establishing, RE-building, RE-storing… always within the context of community – family, neighbourhood, nationally and internationally. This is why, year after year, we have the solemn duty of remembering and honouring the memory of those who  sacrificed their lives in the hope of building a better world for everyone, of every colour, nationality, race, and religion.

And even though we are unable to physically gather together this year – because of a different enemy in our midst, and in spite of any differences there may be between us, we can still be deeply united by our joint desire to remember and give thanks for those who have suffered and died on our behalf. Today, we are brought together by remembrance – and in this remembrance lies our hope for the future. That is the greatest tribute we can pay to those we remember on this day.

– Hospice Chaplain, Margaret Lillis


They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;

age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them…


Poppy display in the Hospice chapel

Honorary Vice President Edna Keefe

Edna Keefe has been made an Honorary Vice President of East Cheshire Hospice in recognition of her long service.

She makes history as the only staff member to receive the honour and received a special framed certificate in acknowledgement.

Will Spinks, Chair of the Trustee Board at the Hospice, said: “We’re delighted to appoint Edna as an Honorary Vice President in appreciation of all the work she’s done for the Hospice over many years.

“There aren’t many people who can say they’ve been here since the beginning and Edna has been so kind to patients and colleagues.

“Comments from colleagues clearly show she has great warmth and has been a fantastic person to work with. On behalf of everyone at the Hospice, I want to thank Edna for her long, loyal service.”

Edna decided it was time to retire when she had to isolate at the start of lockdown in March.

Until Covid-19 she worked twice a week in the laundry room.

Edna said: “Someone suggested ‘why don’t you retire?’ and I believe that everything is for a reason. I have wonderful memories of the Hospice and feel very honoured to have been made an Honorary Vice President.”

Three years ago she received a High Sheriff Award and attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace as a thank-you for her contribution to the Hospice.

Edna with Will Spinks, East Cheshire Hospice Chair of the Trustee Board, and Chief Executive Karyn Johnston

Edna’s Retirement

It was the end of an era when Edna Keefe retired from East Cheshire Hospice after 32 years of loyal service.

Edna’s first job was to clean the Hospice before it even welcomed its first patient, eventually moving on to work in the laundry room.

To mark her retirement, 83-year-old Edna and her family were invited to a special farewell gathering at the Hospice while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

The event was hosted by Will Spinks, Chair of the Trustee Board at the Hospice, and Chief Executive Karyn Johnston, with many of Edna’s colleagues joining the celebrations via Zoom from home where they are working.

Bouquets of sunflowers – the Hospice emblem – were presented to Edna, along with a souvenir book packed with personal tributes from colleagues.

Edna Keefe with former colleague Christine Jenkins from the Hospice housekeeping team.

Edna spent 17 years as a domestic at Macclesfield District General Hospital before taking up a similar role at the Hospice two weeks before it opened in 1988.

The hospital matron became the sister at the Hospice and Edna joined her so she could prepare the building for the arrival of patients.

Edna said: “I’ve seen lots of changes at the Hospice over the last 32 years and can still remember the first patient who made flower embroideries for display in the chapel.

“The staff have been so lovely and so caring and were always there to help if I needed anything. I want to thank them all for their friendship and for this special send-off.

“It’s not the job that you do, but the people you work with who make it and they’ve been fantastic.

“I’ll miss them all, though I won’t miss going to work on dark mornings in the winter.

“I’d also like to thank the Hospice for my retirement gift of a pearl necklace and earrings.”

Edna, who has seven grandchildren and five great grandchildren, now has more time to spend with her family and she also enjoys walking.

Edna with (from left) grandsons Will and Harvey Johnson; daughter Jan Johnson; son Gary Keefe; son-in-law David Johnson; daughter Carol Tew and son-in-law Stephen Tew. 

Virtual Christmas Tree Collection Campaign

It may be the wrong time of year for Christmas trees, but it is still the season of goodwill towards East Cheshire Hospice.

The latest to help the Hospice during the Covid-19 crisis are organisers of its Christmas tree collection.

Their fundraising campaign needs your involvement – through donations and creativity!

The organisers are sending their Christmas tree collection logo – newly-named as Firgus after a Facebook vote – on a virtual holiday.

His month-long journey is just starting, with Firgus sending postcards back each week, starting this Friday.

Luke Brightmore, Digital Marketing Assistant at the Hospice, said: “The more donations the further Firgus travels, though it’s a fun trip so his destinations won’t reflect the real cost of such a holiday.

“We’ll put a postcard on our website each Friday showing where he’s reached before moving on.”

Alongside the virtual journey, there is a competition for the best interpretation of ‘What Your Christmas Tree Does in Summer?’

The theme is based on Olaf from Frozen, a snowman who dreams of a summer holiday.

Drawings, paintings or pictures – any format is accepted – can be emailed to echtrees@echospice.org.uk. The top three will receive Christmas-themed prizes.

Richard Raymond, co-organiser of the Christmas tree collection with Pete Chapman, said: “There’s been some fantastic fundraising for NHS charities but that money won’t go to the Hospice.

“Our message is really ‘Don’t forget our Hospice’  which keeps its door open and maintains services  for our community during this pandemic.

“The Hospice has its Now More than Ever appeal and we wondered how we can help. We thought  the tree holiday is something we could do to tap into all our Christmas tree customers.

“It’s a bit of fun and will hopefully capture the imagination, including on social media, and in some ways it’s our take on a virtual Christmas tree collection.

“The competition may be a photograph of dad in his trunks and shades sitting in a deckchair alongside a Christmas tree with a beer in hand.

“Or, it could be a child dressing up as a Christmas tree with a star on their head and a few baubles dotted across the body.

“Basically, anything goes and there are no rules. One of our supporters said it’d give them something to do in these strange times and fundamentally we’re helping the Hospice. ”

Pete Chapman (left) and Richard Raymond, co-organisers of the East Cheshire Hospice Christmas Tree Collection, with their own slant on a Christmas tree summer trip and their tree logo.

Hospice Counselling Continues

Therapists at East Cheshire Hospice are working remotely as Covid-19 presents new challenges.

The Hospice’s counselling services have continued during lockdown, providing vital help to families facing added issues around bereavement.

Restrictions on the number of mourners attending funerals have made things even harder for the bereaved. So too social distancing at such a tragic time.

Such worries are typical topics of conversation during sessions with highly-skilled counsellors who continue to work during the pandemic.

Children’s counsellor Jane Burton said: “We’re still active and although I can’t see children and families face-to-face because of the restrictions, we’re now doing things in a different way using the likes of Zoom or the telephone.

“I’ve noticed that the restrictions around funerals are highlighting the ceremonial aspect of going to say goodbye to someone.

“Restrictions on mourners mean families are having to make difficult decisions about those who can’t go and how to prioritise?

“If someone has a large family and only a tiny number of people can attend it has implications for everybody.

“In addition, bereaved families might normally call on relatives and friends to be with them to share in their grief but that’s another restriction because they can’t do that physically.

“They can’t have a chat over a cup of tea or give someone a hug.”

East Cheshire Hospice Children’s counsellor Jane Burton.

Children across East Cheshire are eligible for help, even without a Hospice association.

Jane said: “We support children who’ve been bereaved or are have a close family member with a life-limiting illness. Questions I’m asked are ‘how and when do I speak to my child?’ That can be because children of different ages understand death in different ways.

“I’m keen to promote the importance of talking to  children about death and dying as a general concept. Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of this with extra layers of things people must think about and which weren’t a consideration before.”

The Hospice has streamlined services during the coronavirus crisis with Jane’s colleagues Fay Mitchell and Helen Wilkinson still working.

Fay is an art therapist as part of the outpatient services which are currently suspended on site, while Helen Wilkinson runs the adult bereavement counselling service.

The Hospice website has various community resource information, including downloadable children’s books explaining  Covid-19 and supporting a child when someone they love is ill and has a poor prognosis. Visit eastcheshirehospice.org.uk/communityresources/.

Mindfulness Blog: Part 9

Mindfulness – A blog by East Cheshire Hospice’s Lindsay Dobson

So last time I talked about stress – well this time I’d like to change direction completely and talk about focusing on gratitude.

First let me tell you a little about the science behind all this.  So, I’ve mentioned before that what we focus on we grow. But neuroscience has shown us this is literally true!!

There have been lots of studies done on this, but two of the most well know are, one on taxi drivers in London, brain scans showed the area of their brains to do with sense of direction and finding their way, where larger than the average persons.  Another is one where scientist rewarded mice for noticing smells and other mice for noticing sounds – and when they looked at their brains to see which parts were larger and better developed, yep, you guessed it! The ones rewarded for smells had better development in the areas associated with smell recognition and the ones rewarded for sounds, the sound areas where better developed!!

So, we now know, that when you focus your attention on something that area of your brain grows and develops.  So, if we focus constantly on our stress – and I have been guilty of this!! Guess what our stress receptors grow!! But if we focus on the things that bring us joy, that we are grateful for – then those parts of the brain will grow and develop instead.

So, whilst I don’t advocate ignoring your stress and distress – as I’ve explored in the previous little bite size bit – I absolutely think we should acknowledge, allow and sit kindly with those feelings.  I also think we need to set time aside to notice and give thanks for those things we love and are grateful for.

Lots of studies have been done on this, and they all show that when we show gratitude, we feel better!!  Not just the person we show gratitude too, but us, for giving it!!

Have you ever met one of those people, who **** has happened too, lots of it!! And yet they have a smile, and a way in the world that is so peaceful and humble and grateful?  Some of the most inspiring people I know are like that – when you hear of the things they have lived through its humbling to see the joy they still find in life and the belief they have in the world and those of us in it!!  So often they are also the people who just keep giving of themselves, rather than feeling bitter and hard done to, they exude a peace and love everywhere they go. I aspire to be like that! But for those of us mere mortals it’s something we must practice and there are times when that is most definitely harder than others!!

They way to do that? Well again its find what works for you – it might be as simple as starting and finishing your day with a thank you for those things your grateful for. It might be keeping a gratitude journal and finding at least one thing or three or more, that you are grateful for each day or that moved you, or for which you felt love!  It might be remembering that the work you do, brings peace to someone and doing whatever you are doing as an act of great love, whether it’s changing a bed, or holding a hand, or writing a letter ! I practice acts of kindness with my children, we have a little pack of suggestions and each day we choose one and do it, they don’t have to be large – one was drawing a bit thank you rainbow on the wall, another is we give a picture or a biscuit to a delivery driver, ring someone to say hi, to take a picture of all the things we find beautiful today, to pick up a bit of rubbish… but whatever it is we do it with joy – we pick up the rubbish and talk about how beautiful the world is and how we want to protect it by putting this rubbish in the bin.  Does it mean my children are like mini saints – erm no definitely not!  Does it mean if we do this, we will suddenly be saintly all the time – sadly not! But it does mean that each time we do, we take our attention to something of beauty, of something that inspires us to feel love or compassion or to feel gratitude and each time we do that, we strengthen that pathway in our brain, meaning that if we do it little and often enough, we start to feel a little bit better about the world and ourselves J

Don’t be too harsh on yourself though on those days when you just cannot find any sunshine within the clouds, be gentle, rest if you can and try again tomorrow.

If that grey day continues for too many, talk to someone, ask for help as not being able to find even the smallest of small things to be grateful for can be a sign we need a little support – which is also very very human , and gives someone the opportunity to help you with love and do something kind for you and them J

Viktor Frankl wrote one of my fav books (I have a lot of fab books!) man’s search for meaning.  Whilst living through the horror of concentration camps, he noticed that those who found meaning and showed human kindness through the ordeal, did better emotionally in the long run.  When I start to feel overwhelmed with my own troubles, I remind myself that if those who lived through that horror could find meaning and joy in life, then so can I, but that its ok to also have times when that’s hard to do, and in those times, just keep trying to act from a place of compassion for myself and others and keep taking the next step, so that one day I can see what I learned from the suffering and make some sense of it.

“The pessimist resembles a man who observes with fear and sadness that his wall calendar, from which he daily tears a sheet, grows thinner with each passing day. On the other hand, the person who attacks the problems of life actively is like a man who removes each successive leaf from his calendar and files it neatly and carefully away with its predecessors, after first having jotted down a few diary notes on the back. He can reflect with pride and joy on all the richness set down in these notes, on all the life he has already lived to the fullest. What will it matter to him if he notices that he is growing old? Has he any reason to envy the young people whom he sees, or wax nostalgic over his own lost youth? What reasons has he to envy a young person? For the possibilities that a young person has, the future which is in store for him?

No, thank you,’ he will think. ‘Instead of possibilities, I have realities in my past, not only the reality of work done and of love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered. These sufferings are even the things of which I am most proud, although these are things which cannot inspire envy.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

One day perhaps we will all look back at this time, and whatever role we played through it and feel this is one of the things of which we are most proud!

Lindsay x

Mindfulness Blog: Part 8

Mindfulness – A blog by East Cheshire Hospice’s Lindsay Dobson

Today I want to explore Stress, I imagine we are all feeling it one some way right now, but those on the front line especially!

Stress is an amazing thing – really!  It’s amazing how our body can shortcut all our logic when faced with danger, how it can redirect our energy into survival .  It allows our body to switch from digesting food, thinking about everything and anything, learning, relaxing, into full on animal survival.  Blood pumps faster, energy is taken from digestion and reproduction into muscles and brain is focused on the threat, time slows down as our brain processes that threat faster than usual.  So we can run, or fight or freeze and escape that life threatening danger !!


The problem is, our brain has not adapted from this, and it cant tell the difference between a threat like a tiger chasing us or a bus driving straight towards us, and the thoughts about these things, or the stresses we face daily!

Right now for instance, we face a life threatening virus, but non of those stress responses really help us with this! Because we cant fight it or run from it the way we can a tiger!  But our body still thinks it needs to be in that stress response. The problem is, our bodies are not designed to keep that up for more than a short time!! If we do we enter a second stage of stress, where the body now has to carefully balance, immediate survival with long term survival! Now it needs to divert some energy back into digestion as we need to eat to survive long term! Yes when being chased by the tiger, its not important – if the tiger catches us it will digest our dinner for us! But now we need to digest, and rest and get on with life, but the brain cant quite switch off the stress response, because its still registering a threat.

So our energy and our health are impacted, maybe we feel sick, or we overeat or we have no appetite! Sleep becomes difficult because we have hormones being released into the body to keep us alert to danger and awake!  And yet we need to sleep!  I could go on with a big list as to why stress long term is not good for us! But the big one right now, is we know it impacts our immune system!!  And we need that right now as that’s our best defence against a virus!!

So this bite size bit of mindfulness is about how important it is to look after you!!  Trust me I know only too well how easy it is to say I don’t have time – and sadly sometimes we just don’t!! But self care can look radically different for all of us! If we can find the time, then take it!! Every damn second you can! To do what relaxes you – because when the rest and digest part of our brain is on, it naturally lowers the stress response!!  Helping our body’s immune system – relaxations, yoga nidra, long bubble baths, a walk, yoga, cuddling your child or pet, reading a beautiful book, a long lovely nap!  Whatever it is – if you can, then do it!!  Your helping not just you, but all those you love and care for, as when you fill up your cup, you have more to share with others!

And Talk about it it!!  Offload to someone, talk about how it feels and whats happened – we are tribal creatures and in those stone age days we would have faced a threat, and then sat around the camp fire and told our stories of it.

But when you cant do those things?  Well sometimes its about turning towards how we feel.  So humanly what we might do is, deny the stress, or pack away the difficult scary feeling, to get on with our day. But this actually takes energy to do!!  So taking a few moments to just sit down with the feeling can help us discharge it a little.

I have two ways I do this;

They both start with just sitting for a moment, taking a few deep breaths, feeling my feet on the floor, my bum on the chair

Then the first one is give my feeling whatever it is, fear, grief, anger, I give it a character and I imagine what it looks like, moves like, sounds like and I invite it to sit with me.  Sometimes I have a chat with it, ask it about why its feeling the way its feeling, sometimes i just observe and watch, sometimes I offer a hand and just hold its hand and sit with it.  When I can I try to befriend it, but if I cant I just accept its there and observe.

The second is I notice how I feel, where I feel it in my body, and I observe and watch and be with that feeling and emotion in me for as long as I can tolerate.  I just let it be, I stop fighting or hiding it, and just allow it to be there for a while

Its almost like I make and agreement with it, your there, I feel you, but for a lot of my day I cant face you, I need to get on with all the things I need to do, but at this time, in this place, I will sit with you, I will let you out, so that maybe the rest of the time you will give me some peace!

Does it make our fear go away, no, but it can help us face our feelings and hold them gently rather than stuff then down so they impact our health or suddenly burst out and overwhelm us at surprising moments!!

We would not tell those we care for to ignore their physical symptoms and yet so often we do tell ourselves to ignore how we feel .  So just as we would tell one we care for to notice where the pain is and then do what needs to be done to help with it, we can do that with ourselves, notice our pain, fear, grief and tend to it.  Just as we would our patients or loved ones.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jellaludin Rumi,


Lindsay x