Volunteering Archives - East Cheshire Hospice

Become a volunteer van driver!

East Cheshire Hospice is appealing for volunteer van drivers to help move furniture.

The role involves collecting furniture from donors’ homes and delivering items to the charity’s shops in Macclesfield, Poynton and Handforth.

The stock then needs to be taken out to customers’ homes.

Commercial manager Louise Delany said: “We’d love people to join our retail van crew and shifts are usually from 9 am until early afternoon.

“Volunteers can commit to once a week, once a fortnight, or on an ad hoc basis, depending on availability.

Volunteer van drivers John Mellor (left) and Tim Hine.

“Our team love what they do. It’s friendly and rewarding and really helps raise vital funds for our Hospice.

“We can raise about £10,000 a month from furniture donations and that makes a big difference to us.  Helpers are also raising the profile of the Hospice.

“Every time our van goes out in the neighbourhood, it makes the Hospice that bit more visible, and our volunteers are representing us.

“No experience is required, but you must be fit enough to move furniture around with a colleague. You don’t necessarily have to drive – we also need people to help carry items.”

* To apply, contact mslack@echospice.org.uk or call 01625 408992.

Meanwhile, the Hospice raised around £30,000 from a rug sale. Some 1,400 surplus rugs were donated to the Hospice. Around 500 are left and are on sale at the charity shops.

Volunteer Elspeth Retires after 33 Years

One of our longest serving volunteers Elspeth Julian has retired after 33 years with the Hospice.

Elspeth, from Prestbury, has been an adult bereavement counsellor almost since the day the Hospice opened its doors in 1988.

A special afternoon tea marked Elspeth’s farewell and well-earned retirement.

It also gave colleagues the chance to thank her for her vital role helping countless families who have lost loved ones.

Reluctantly, Elspeth was absent from her part-time duties for more than a year because of the Covid-19 restrictions.

She said: “I’ll miss being part of such a worthwhile organisation with its welcoming atmosphere but all good things come to an end I suppose.

“When the Hospice was setting up bereavement services I was invited to join a small group of volunteers to visit the relations of patients who had died there.

“I’d been a social worker, and a Samaritan, and so had some experience of counselling skills. Back then, we went out into the community and saw people in their homes, so quite a lot of travelling was involved.

“After I left my job as a special needs teacher 18 years ago, I underwent formal training to become a counsellor.

“There’ve been lots of changes over the years and the bereavement service is far more structured now with children’s services as well as those for adults.”

Elspeth now has more time to spend with husband David, their three children and four grandchildren. She enjoys playing Bridge, visiting Dorset and is looking forward to travelling further afield again as soon as possible.

Elspeth Julian who is retiring after 33 years as a volunteer at East Cheshire Hospice.

Elspeth added: “I’m humbled that people have chosen to talk about their problems. The greatest joy has been feeling that I may have been of some help at such a difficult time.

“My message to anyone bereaved is that if you feel there’s something worrying you that you can’t happily talk to friends and family about, then consider speaking to a counsellor who will listen non-judgementally and not give advice but help you find your way through.”

Helena Smith, the Hospice’s Voluntary Services Co-ordinator, said: “The work Elspeth has done for the Hospice not only supports the people she directly counsels, but ripples out into their families as their resilience grows.

“These ripples, both big and small spreading out across the 30-plus years she’s volunteered for us, adds up to a remarkable contribution to our community.”

Wing Walking Grannies

Fictional fighter pilot Biggles is back in the skies for his next heroic adventure – this time as fearless flying grannies.

Age is no barrier for the five fundraisers who will climb on top of a classic 1940s Boeing Stearman biplane for a wing walk next month.

Health and safety requirements prevent them from wearing helmets, goggles, sheepskin jackets and scarves for their aerial stunt in aid of East Cheshire Hospice.

The outfits belong to Hospice volunteer Barbara Spivey who, at 74, is the oldest of the granny squadron.

She has run Spivey’s Web, a fancy dress shop on Chestergate which also sells unusual gifts, for 30 years with daughter Donna.

Donna has declined the challenge, unlike her brave mum who sported the outfits with fellow wing walkers to promote the flights.

Barbara said: “I’m an avid traveller and always fancied a wing walk. I went close to Everest base camp aged 64 and have visited places like Iran, Kazakhstan and South America. Travelling is the be all and end all for me and I’ve a friend who runs wildlife tours.”

Barbara has been a ward volunteer at the Hospice for 15 years but has been unable to help here for more than a year because of Covid restrictions.

Her late sister-in-law was cared for in a local hospice, persuading Barbara to become a volunteer.

Friend Jacky Macleod is also taking part in the wing walk at an airfield in Gloucestershire on Monday, June 21.

Jacky said: “I was a trolley dolly a long time ago and am trying not to think about being strapped to the top of a plane.”

Between them, the women have 18 grandchildren, eight of them for Hospice health care assistant Pam Webster.

Pam said: “I did a sky dive 15 years ago and it was brilliant. A wing walk has been on my ‘to do’ list and one of my grandchildren is convinced I’m going to fall. Another has said I’m mad, while my mum wonders what on earth I’m doing.”

Colleague Caroline Allen and complementary therapist Gill Black are the other grandmothers  sponsored for the challenge.

Gill said: “I like to do a challenge every year and have done a Firewalk before. I’m nervous, don’t like heights and am not too keen on flying. However, I’ll probably feel better on the outside of a plane rather than the inside.”

Four of the granny squadron. From left, Pam Webster, Gill Black, Jacky Macleod and Barbara Spivey.

Volunteers Begin Cautious Return

East Cheshire Hospice is bringing back volunteers slowly following the Covid crisis.

Volunteers on the ward and in the Sunflower Centre could be among the next roles to return.

The Hospice is proceeding with extreme caution to meet Covid safety guidelines.

Voluntary Services Co-ordinator Helena Smith said: “The clinical roles are the hardest to get back because of infection control, even though they’re very much needed.

“We’re trying to reduce footfall in the ward and clinical staff have been undertaking work usually done by volunteers who bring something extra.”

Drivers for day care patients and receptionist staff came back some time ago.

Helena said: “We’ll be in touch with people as and when roles become available. Not knowing what the future holds makes it difficult to plan ahead with confidence.

“If you’re not back yet and you want to come back, we want you back when the time’s right. Anyone who’s volunteered here before can come back if they wish.

“I must pay tribute to our fundraising volunteers who’ve adapted magnificently, selling masks, hand-made goods and cakes etc to friends and neighbours.

“They’ve been creative and generated a huge amount for us, as has everyone else. The community has offered to help as volunteers and it’s been hard turning them down.

“Volunteering is good for mental and physical health. It’s been hard knowing the people who work so hard for us aren’t able to do what they love.

“They want to contribute but can’t and have found that really difficult.”

Helena Smith, Voluntary Services Co-ordinator at East Cheshire Hospice.

Hospice Gardening Volunteers

Tending to plants and patients is all in a day’s work for Lindsay Taylor at East Cheshire Hospice.

There she is among a dedicated band of volunteers making the gardens at the Millbank Drive site look their best.

Other times the all-rounder swaps her gardening gloves for her nurse’s uniform caring for patients on the ward.

Lindsay, from Macclesfield, even managed to do both jobs in one day owing to her lifestyle.

She retired as full-time nurse 18 months ago, but stayed on as a member of the bank staff.

Lindsay now works an average of two shifts a week, freeing her up to help out in the gardens.

She said: “One day last week I was in the gardens in the morning and then worked as a nurse in the afternoon.

“I love it. I’ve been a nurse for almost 40 years, including the last six years at the Hospice before retiring, and can now pick and choose the days I work.

“On the ward I often thought I’d like to be out there doing some gardening and now I’ve got the best of both worlds.

“I’d say I’m more enthusiastic than able as a gardener, but I enjoy being out in the fresh air pulling up weeds.

“As a nurse I also know what it means to patients to see the gardens from either the Sunflower Centre, or the bays on the ward. Patients and families can also come out and enjoy the open space and flowers.

“It’s been a challenging period for everyone at the Hospice and the toughest period nurses have known.”

Other volunteer gardeners include Pat Dawson and Gail Robinson whose roles as flower arrangers had to be temporarily suspended because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Pat has been brightening up the ward with her floral arrangements for more than 20 years and also volunteers at fundraising events.

“I help out in all kinds of ways, including car parking, registration, open days and collection boxes. It’s nice to meet other volunteers as well and get to know their different interests.”

Gail’s husband Lawrence drives the Hospice’s furniture van and volunteers at the Christmas tree collection.

Gail said: “I enjoy gardening and look forward to flower arranging again once restrictions are eased and we’re allowed to get back in. We know friends who’ve benefitted from being in the Hospice and it’s such a lovely place.”

Some of the Hospice gardening team. From left, Mark Reddiough, Pat Dawson, Nev Wardle, Gail Robinson and Lindsay Taylor.

Better Late Than Never For Christmas Tree Collection

East Cheshire Hospice finally held its long-awaited Christmas tree collection last week, three months later than planned.

A reduced team of 25 volunteers collected around 1,100 trees after lockdown restrictions were eased.

Five vans shuttled across the region delivering trees to the Ansa recycling plant at West Park, Macclesfield.

More than 6,000 trees had been registered for collection, with most donors disposing trees themselves when the scheme was delayed because of Covid-19.

However, organisers promised to collect trees once rules changed and, true to their word, honoured that pledge.


From left, Tina and Richard Raymond with co-founder of the collection Pete Chapman and Hospice Community Fundraiser Carley Macey.    


Scheme co-founder Richard Raymond said: “We want to thank the people who kept their trees for their patience. We had great fun collecting them, even though our team was smaller in number.

“The postponement in January was a devastating decision we had to take and was a blow to all our plans.  But there we were, doing it again and this time with more daylight hours which meant we could collect for longer.

“It’s important to thank our amazing volunteers for their commitment to doing the job in this Covid crisis.

“They were really excited to be out there and felt cheated they couldn’t go out and pick up trees in January.

“There was no shortage of volunteers and some wondered why we were doing it during the week, preferring the collection to be at the weekend when they weren’t working.

“We realise it wasn’t the big happy band it normally is, but we’ll be back in business with a full scale operation as usual next year.”


Volunteers Sally and Pete Broughton collecting Christmas trees.


The collection, sponsored by AstraZeneca and adhering to Covid guidelines, saw two volunteers on each van with routes mapped out.

Organisers will announce soon the total raised this year, a sum increased by donations from those even without a tree for collection who contributed once they knew how much the Christmas tree scheme means financially to the Hospice.

Richard said: “The goodwill has been amazing and we also want to thank from the bottom of our hearts  those who made a donation and disposed of trees themselves.

“It’s made an enormous difference to the Hospice to have the Christmas tree collection money coming in, especially at the turn of the year when, in normal circumstances, there aren’t many fundraising events. That was the case even more last winter because of Covid.”

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 echtrees@echospice.org.uk 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.

Will Week 2020

A Macclesfield law specialist says the uncertainty surrounding Covid-19 has led to an increase in demand for legal advice.

Estate planning consultant Tina Timmins says concerns among the public over planning for the future has created a surge in inquiries.

Tina is encouraging people to sign up for Will Week, run by East Cheshire Hospice from October 5-9, when solicitors waive fees in return for a donation to the charity.

Tina recently joined GPW Trusts – soon to open an office on Church Street – after 16 years with Blunts Solicitors which ceased trading in June when the long-established company went into administration.

GPW Trusts specialises in Will writing, trusts, long term care planning, inheritance tax planning, powers of attorney and probate.

Tina said: “My message is to make sure you have a Will and in this changing world there are ways of protecting your assets.

“It’s important people consider their estate planning and how they can plan to prevent their wealth being eroded by future threats.”

“We’ve had a lot of calls since the start of the pandemic and I’d encourage people to sign up for Will Week as soon as possible as appointments get booked very quickly.

“People want to support the Hospice and they come along because the charity is dear to their heart. This year more than any other has highlighted the need to have a Will.”

A full list of participating solicitors is available on the Hospice website eastcheshirehospice.org.uk.

Participating solicitors can write a single or mirror Will, or update an existing Will, in return for a donation to the Hospice. Any other services are chargeable at the solicitor’s usual cost.

GPW Trusts is expanding into Macclesfield, using Tina’s experience and in-depth knowledge of estate planning, which include Power of Attorney, Court of Protection and Probate.

Tina said: “I’m delighted to be at the start of an exciting new project and this is a new office for GPW Trusts which is well established in West Cheshire and North Wales.

“Will Week is usually three weeks for me by the time Wills are drafted and signed and I enjoy helping the Hospice.”

Pre lockdown, she was a frequent visitor to the charity’s Sunflower Centre giving informal legal advice to patients and families.

Tina is based at home and online until the new Macclesfield office is ready. Visit www.gpwtrusts.co.uk.

ECHO – Opening September 5th

East Cheshire Hospice opens the doors to its new charity shop ECHO in Poynton on Saturday, September 5.

Poynton was chosen as the location because the Hospice is keen to build a greater presence in the village to reflect the number of patients, volunteers and supporters who live there.

The opening has been delayed by four months because of Covid-19 and the Hospice has already been encouraged by the public response, even before the first item is sold.

The Park Lane shop will sell ladies, men’s and children’s clothes, shoes, handbags, toys, bric-a-brac and furniture.  Opening hours are Monday to Saturday (9 am – 5 pm).

Shop manager Emma Lloyd said: “This will be a charity shop like no other, selling good quality clothing and furniture at affordable prices.

“Value for money is even more important at the moment with the retail sector facing such a difficult time because of Covid-19.

“We wanted a presence in Poynton and believe the timing is right to open and in an ideal location in the centre of the village.

“We’re confident we’ll attract lots of customers whose support will benefit our patients.  All profits go directly to fund patient care.

“Poynton is in our catchment area, although some people mistakenly believe it’s served by our friends from St Ann’s Hospice.”

ECHO shop manager Emma Lloyd (left) and volunteer Dee Waters.

The shop is the charity’s fourth, with others at Thornton Square and Chestergate, Macclesfield, and Handforth.

ECHO, which prides itself on its eco-friendly approach, will be plastic-free. Hangers will be wooden and reclaimed timber boards have been used as part of this recycling project.

Emma said: “Our customers will be saving money and saving the environment by buying our second-hand goods, some of which are designer items.

“The feedback from the public as we’ve been preparing the shop and receiving donated items has been extremely positive. We want to thank our donors.”

Staff and volunteers have been recruited and the Hospice is asking for any unwanted items to be delivered to the back of the premises where parking is available. Items will be quarantined for 72 hours.

Furniture collections can be arranged by calling furniture co-ordinator and assistant manager Michele Slack on 01625 409647 or visit the Hospice website eastcheshirehospice.org.uk.

Income from its charity shops provides a vital source of regular income for the Hospice, especially as fundraising revenue has dropped significantly because of the pandemic.