Volunteers at Christmas Tree Collection - East Cheshire Hospice

Volunteers at Christmas Tree Collection

Volunteers Rob and Marion BoSmith have a unique claim to fame in the long history of collecting trees in aid of East Cheshire Hospice.

The Bollington couple picked up a symbolic tree that saw the fundraising scheme smash through the £1m barrier in 2019.

They only discovered their historic role in the tree collection scheme when they returned to the recycling plant at West Park late one afternoon.

Rob said: “We drove back to the plant and the first thing we knew was when everyone started screaming and shouting. Photographs were taken as champagne was sprayed over the van.

“It was pure coincidence that we happened to be the people who collected the tree which took the total beyond the £1m mark.”

Youngest daughter Astrid with Rob and Marion during the 2017 collection which was re-arranged due to snow. Astrid stood in for sister Imogen who had travelled from London for the original date.

Rob and Marion will be out and about again with fellow volunteers over the weekend of January 14/15 when the next collection takes place.

It is not too late to register. Visit www.echtrees.org.uk.

The couple will be joined by one of their three daughters, Imogen, who has volunteered before.

Rob, a helper for 15 years, will carry his chainsaw and cutters to trim any large trees.

Marion, a more recent recruit, said: “There’s an amazing sense of camaraderie. It’s a pleasure to be involved.

Rob BoSmith, a veteran of the East Cheshire Hospice Christmas tree recycling scheme.

“Everyone bends over backwards to be helpful, including those serving food, the van crews and staff at the Ansa plant who’re wonderful.

“They’re safety conscious and take the trees from us, while braving the elements all day.

“Everyone is buzzing all day as we exchange messages on WhatsApp about how we’re getting along.”

The scheme has raised more than £1.5m in 22 years. Post codes covered are CW12, SK9, SK10, SK11, SK12 and WA16.

The event is sponsored by local businesses, including main sponsors AstraZeneca, meaning all donations go straight to the Hospice.

Rob said: “We’ve been to all sorts of places. Despite living here for 42  years, we’re still discovering places we never knew existed. Everyone is so helpful if we can’t find a particular house.”

The couple met at the Wellcome Research Laboratories in Kent before moving to Bollington, running a corner shop attached to their home for eight years.

They both worked at AstraZeneca, Rob leaving to teach IT at Macclesfield College.

Marion said: “It didn’t take us long to get over any homesickness. It’s much nicer up here, where we’re part of a lovely community.”

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