Volunteer Stories - East Cheshire Hospice

Volunteer Stories

Here are a few stories from our volunteers

Read more wonderful stories below

John Bolsover, Ward Volunteer

“I needed something to fill my time after having retired and finished all the jobs in the house. So eighteen months ago, I started volunteering and I get an awful lot from it “

After a long career with the police and in business, John retired and moved to Macclesfield. He openly admits that he needed something to fill his days. Thus, he decided to come to the Hospice to offer his services.

John volunteers regularly on the ward. During his shifts he helps with mealtimes, making beds, filling up supplies, sorting laundry, and doing whatever staff need help with, and offering patients a listening ear.

He says “I do like to give, give of myself, talking to people, making people happier. I’m a bit of a jester.” Then, he adds more seriously, that his role as a ward volunteer is to take the weight off the nursing staff. John also admits, that at times, it does affect him, when he has built a relationship with a patient who then dies.

When asked why he volunteers with us, John, without hesitation, says: “The people, nurses, everybody is fantastic; they all have a wonderful outlook on life”.

Sheila King, Dementia Daycare Volunteer

” When people discover that I am a volunteer who spends time with those who are living with dementia their usual response is ‘oh that must be so difficult for you’.  Well actually that isn’t my experience at all.  I have been involved with supporting numerous groups over the years at the Hospice, as well as providing companionship to individuals and I can honestly say it is one of the most rewarding ways I spend my time.

People who have dementia are just that – ‘people’.  They come from all walks of life and have a diverse range of skills and abilities.  No two people are the same.  I have had serious intellectual discussions with scientists, marvelled at the abilities of previous national sports champions, been entertained by people who used to perform on stage, listened to stories of bravery and resilience or just simply sat next to someone and patiently waited for them to find the words to express themselves. To see someone come into our group sessions rather apprehensively at first and then gain confidence as the weeks progress, greeting us and each other like friends and not wanting to leave when it is time to go home is a wonderful experience.

The staff and volunteers try to bring fun into our group sessions and often laughter will be heard down the corridor and from their carers who are having their own meeting next door. Many of them tell us how much they enjoy coming.  For the couple of hours I spend in their company I forget about the troubles going on in the world.  The smiles on many of their faces makes me feel volunteering in this area was one of the best decisions I ever made.”

John Wilkinson, Thornton Square Shop Volunteer

Ex- Police officer, John, gets a lot of satisfaction from helping out at our shop in Thornton Square, where he’s been for seven years.

“It’s busy – really busy, we don’t stop – but that’s the way I like it”, he says.

John has raised funds for charities for most of his adult life and following a period of living in Goa, India, where he helped with children’s charities, he eventually decided to get involved with the Hospice and offered to support us. Helping in the shop was a great way of doing just that. John lives locally, and helps out with his grandchildren most days, so needed something to fit around that.

“I started volunteering with the Hospice to give me something to occupy my time, but it’s become more than that. I started in the back, sorting donations – the quality of the goods we get is incredible, people are so generous, and now I tend to work on the till which is where I get to really meet people. We have lots of regulars, we’re part of the community there and we get to know our customers well. I get to be a grandad, give back to the community and still have plenty of time for holidays and other interests. The only problem is, I keep on buying things from the shop, my wife never knows what I’m going to bring home!”

If you’d like to volunteer at our four friendly shops in Poynton, Handforth, Macclesfield Chestergate and Thornton Square, please click here to apply online.

Sue Brumby, Chestergate Shop Volunteer

Volunteering is how Sue Brumby is repaying East Cheshire Hospice for caring for her late husband Lawrence.

He died in 2017 and spent four nights at the Hospice, just three months after the Macclesfield couple had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

The care for Lawrence (68), who worked for ICI, was so good that Sue wanted to stay within the Hospice family.

Sue said: “Lawrence had an inoperable liver tumour and nothing could be done for him.

“The Hospice went that extra mile and I was able to stay with him at the Hospice. I wanted to give something back since they were so kind to our family.”

Sue worked for Tesco for almost 25 years before retiring and her retail skills are now being put to good use at the charity’s shops at Thornton Square and Chestergate.

Sue said: “I volunteer one morning each week at both shops. The Chestergate shop has a completely new look and it’s great to welcome our customers back.”

Hospice commercial manager Louise Delany said: “Sue’s an example of the support and dedication shown by the community towards the Hospice.

“We couldn’t do without our volunteers and if there’s anyone else out there who wants to give time please get in touch.

“The Chestergate store is also in need of donations of clothing and accessories. We’d also like electrical items, but no toys and books.”

Fred Slater, Community Dementia Companions Volunteer

Fred became a volunteer in our Sunflower Centre Dementia sessions in 2018, then decided that his next role was to become a community companion, a ‘buddy’ role taking someone with mild dementia out for a couple of hours a week, thus giving their carer a few hours break. His father had dementia, and Fred says, “He was an inspiration to me and now I’m retired this voluntary work is his legacy”

Fred talks movingly about those he works with – people with dementia, and the staff and volunteers “You might get someone who doesn’t want to engage particularly, but you get a jigsaw out and suddenly they spring to life and they see the picture far better than me. The staff there are fabulous and I’ve learned so much. They’re so professional with their patient and caring approach and are the real unsung heroes of the service.

In the community companion role, each volunteer is matched with someone with similar likes and interests. Community companions visit homes but they don’t provide nursing care. They enjoy the company of individuals while their carers may go for a walk, shop or perhaps visit the library.

Karyn Johnston, Hospice Director

Our Hospice Director Karyn Johnston has a substantial history of volunteering, so we thought it would be good to hear how it informs her role as ECH director.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a joiner-inner, I would often hear my mum saying, ‘That’s our Karyn, she’s in everything but the crib’ so I’ve been volunteering since I was seven years old. My first role was as a water carrier for my Dad’s football team, at school I was an older person’s shopper, then I helped in summer schools for under privileged kids when I was a teenager. At university and into my late-twenties I was a Samaritan, on moving to Macclesfield I became a Magistrate and now I help out at Hospice events, am a trustee of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Shrewsbury and an active member of St Alban’s, Parish Council. A wide variety of roles and I have loved every single one of them. I can fit my volunteering in around my full time work commitments, get to team up with wonderful people, have fun and use my skills and feel that lovely warm glow of knowing that I have made a real difference in my community.

Volunteers are the backbone of East Cheshire Hospice  – we literally could not function without their generous and unconditional support. East Cheshire Hospice is the sum of its volunteers and as a result we are all be proud to be part of it.

Volunteering has a positive impact on a person’s wellbeing, I’d advise anyone to get involved and be well in mind and body. Obviously I want everyone to choose to volunteer for the Hospice as we need over 350 volunteers to deliver the exceptional brand of compassionate care we give to our patients and families every day of the year. With over 20 distinctive volunteer roles, there is something to fit your skills, experience and availability – it’s so rewarding.

I know from my days in advertising that the best form of it is recommendation, so I’m recommending volunteering for East Cheshire Hospice to you. You will be well looked after and have all the training and support you need to do a great job. Try volunteering for us, and I guarantee you will love it!

Lindsay Taylor, Hospice Gardener

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

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

At 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 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.”

Other volunteer gardeners include Pat Dawson and Gail Robinson, who are also on the flower arranging team!

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 both gardening and flower arranging. We know friends who’ve benefitted from being in the Hospice and it’s such a lovely place.”

Betty Malkin, Handmade Goods Volunteer

I have been a volunteer at the East Cheshire Hospice for about 10 years. I am a knitter producing toys and novelty items. I also knit the grief bears that are given to children who have a relative within the in-patient unit at the Hospice.
I find the work very rewarding although I have slowed down in the last few years. I still enjoy contributing to such a worthy cause. It gives me purpose in life and a very rewarding one.

How Do I Apply?

To view our current volunteering opportunities and apply online, please visit Kinetic, our volunteering platform.