Thursday, April 2, 2020
Families Matter

Hospice Care Week this year is from 7 – 13 October, and this year the national campaign has the theme of ‘This is what it takes’, focusing on the stories behind the care.

And what better way to celebrate the care given by our wonderful Willow Wood community than to tell the story of Pat, a volunteer who has been with us from day one.

“I’ve been involved with Willow Wood from the very beginning. The first public meeting to discuss raising funds to build a Hospice for Tameside and Glossop was on 28 April, 1993 at Dukinfield Town Hall and our very first fundraising event, a Sequence Ball, was held just four weeks later.

We had a small but very committed team of volunteers, and the Sequence Ball became an annual event running until 2013. Frank, my husband, and I also began to organise monthly Coffee mornings. Initially these were at our house and they are still going now, although they long since moved over to Willow Wood itself. I still attend, although don’t do as much baking now! They are always very well attended, and last year raised over £10,000 towards the Hospice’s running costs. Frank and I also set up the Festival of Christmas Music, which again is a very popular event, and sells out every year.

The fundraising continued and I even once organised a car boot sale – never again! I’ll do almost anything for Willow Wood, but that was not my cup of tea at all! However, it was a very proud moment when, after five years of fundraising, I was present at the laying of the foundation stone in April 1998. We raised £2million to build the Hospice and now in 2019, our twentieth anniversary year, the running costs will be over £2.6million – our fundraising has to continue.

For many years I served on the Board of Trustees for Willow Wood until I decided to take a bit more of a back seat and retired from that position.

I’m still a volunteer receptionist though and greet patients and visitors every Thursday afternoon.

I was very honoured in 2016 when I attended a Buckingham Palace Garden Party as the longest serving female volunteer. It was a wonderful occasion – even the sun was shining! That was the year that the whole volunteer team was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, equivalent to the MBE for an individual.

I am very proud to have been part of Willow Wood for so long. It really is special, and although there have been many changes over the past twenty years one thing will never change: my commitment to such a wonderful place.”

If you’d like to follow Pat’s example and volunteer for Willow Wood, please go to: to find out more and apply online.

Staff and volunteers from a local charity have been honoured at a special event in the city centre.
The St Ann’s Hospice event, which was held at the offices of one of their supporters Eversheds Sutherland, celebrated a year of achievements at the charity.

Eamonn O’Neal, Chief Executive of St Ann’s, explained: “I’m so proud to be part of a team that consistently provides such outstanding care and support to local patients and this event was a way of thanking just some of the people who make that possible.

“There’s an army of more than 700 local people who volunteer with the hospice, and we simply couldn’t continue to care for patients from our communities without them. The event saw us present some of our volunteers with special awards for achievements, and for their fabulous long service to the organisation. Some have been volunteering with us for as long as 40 years, which is such incredible dedication. We’re hugely grateful.”

In addition to awards for long service for volunteers, staff were also presented with accolades for their service milestones, as well as a range of awards which were presented by the hospice’s Chair of the Board Professor Jackie Oldham, to those who have gone above and beyond in upholding the hospice’s values over the last year.

The hospice, which is one of the oldest adult hospices outside of London, is approaching its 50th anniversary in 2021. It provides care to patients from its three sites in Little Hulton, Heald Green and the Neil Cliffe Centre in Wythenshawe Hospital, as well as via a range of community and outreach services.

Eamonn O’Neal, added: “As one of the oldest hospices in the country, we’re consistently evaluating, evolving and developing our services to ensure we can continue to provide care for the next fifty years too. That’s never been so important, and it was great to gather together with colleagues to celebrate the achievements of the year gone by and look ahead to the next exciting phase in St Ann’s history.”

For more information about St Ann’s, please visit

Dedications are now coming in thick and fast for Willow Wood’s annual Light Up A Life campaign where we join with our community to celebrate the lives of loved ones.

Open to everyone, whether or not you have been touched by Hospice Care, the online Book of Memories is available for viewing immediately. This Book will remain on the website throughout the coming year, with dedications available for viewing on your special days.

A printed copy will be placed in the Willow Wood multi-faith prayer room to coincide with our Winter Fete on 16 November and will be updated as further dedications are received. An ideal opportunity to peruse this would be during one of the Garden of 1,000 Lights open evenings every Tuesday and Thursday from 19 November until 19 December. As well as viewing the Book people can have a look round our beautifully illuminated gardens, and reminisce over a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie. The Book of Memories will also be available at our two celebration carol services.

As Willow Wood Chaplain Eddy Inglis said: “Every year people come to me to say just how much Light Up A Life means to them and how much comfort they get from our services. Like Willow Wood itself, Light Up A Life is for everyone”. The Glossop service, on 3 December and the Tameside service, on 8 December both feature a brass band, children’s choir, carols and, of course, the dedication of the Tree of Lights and are always emotional yet uplifting and joyous.

Willow Wood’s Elaine McConnell who will be welcoming visitors to the services said: “In addition, this year as part of Light Up A Life, we are offering people the opportunity to place a 30cm high star in a specially designated and tranquil part of our lovely garden. These beautiful stars can be personalised with your loved one’s name and even a photo, and will stay in the garden until the end of the festive season. They can then be collected to keep and treasure.

“Your stars can be ordered online when you make your dedication at, or alternatively dedication forms are in all our shops and reception. It’s a lovely addition to such a special way of remembering your loved ones.”

Manchester’s hospice is launching an innovative service for patients across Greater Manchester at the end of September.

‘The Being You Centre’ @ St Ann’s offers support to people living with life-limiting illnesses, which focusses on what’s important to them and being themselves.

Rachel McMillan, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Clinical Services at St Ann’s, said: “We’ve been looking at our Day Therapy service recently and how we can make it even better for those people who need our support.

“The service has been transformed and is now called ‘The Being You’ Centre @ St Ann’s. This name has been chosen simply because we want to help people be themselves again. We believe that an illness shouldn’t define anybody – we look past that and see a person, not just a patient or a diagnosis. Our ethos is to always treat people as the individuals that they are.

“When someone is living with a life-limiting illness, they can experience physical, psychological, emotional or social issues which mean that they don’t quite feel like themselves. At ‘The Being You’ Centre @ St Ann’s, based at our Heald Green and Little Hulton hospices, people are assessed and referred to our recently renewed specialist services, depending on their own particular needs, wishes and goals.

“That may include a breathlessness programme, an exercise group, physiotherapy, relaxation, pain and symptom control or complementary therapy, amongst a whole host of other services.”

Brian Hughes is 65 and has been living with chronic heart disease for around 22 years. He’s recently been referred to ‘The Being You’ Centre. He says: “I’ve enjoyed it so much and I’ve met lots of people in the same boat as me. The Creative Therapist encouraged me to try some crafts. It’s very relaxing and you can’t help but have a laugh.

“I see the hospice doctors when I’m here, I also see the Occupational Therapist who helps me with advice for when I’m at home and I take part in an exercise group.

“It’s a perfectly relaxed environment. It’s not a frightening experience, not by a long way. You’re the main person to them, it’s what you want that counts and your family are made to feel just as important. I’ve enjoyed it very much.”

*For more information about ‘The Being You’ Centre @ St Ann’s, you can visit or call the hospice on 0161 437 8136.

The chair of a Sale cleaning company has turned her hand to writing, publishing a special book in memory of her husband.

‘Ode to Life’, by Linda Wyers, is described by the author as a collection of odes and poems about love, life and everything in between, and is dedicated to her husband Martin Charles Wyers.

Martin, who founded the family’s business Floorbrite in 1972, died of bowel cancer in December 2010 aged 61, and the book is raising money for three organisations that supported him and his loved ones throughout his illness – St Ann’s Hospice, Bowel Cancer UK, and The Christie Hospital.

Linda explained: “I’ve written odes from being in my early 20s, particularly for family and friends, but as I have grown older, I have been inspired to write and put observations and experiences of life into verse.

“All of my odes are about things I have seen, done, encountered or love, and range from mashed potato to mosquitoes, and queuing to taxation, and although a few are hugely poignant, most of them see the funny side of life. I hope they will make people smile, and on occasion even laugh out loud.”

The book includes more than 25 odes, each written by Linda. Copies cost £10 plus postage each, with all proceeds except for postage costs split equally between the three charities.

Linda added: “Martin’s disease was stage four from the outset, and although doctors didn’t tell us that he wasn’t expected to live twelve months, he actually bravely fought for three and a half years.

“Martin was a very generous and successful business man who loved and did everything possible for his family. He founded Floorbrite in 1972 and he managed it until his passing. Today myself and our three gorgeous children Nina, Alex and Nik run the business, with a family ethos at its core, and it’s testament to the strong foundations which Martin created and the incredible hard work of our children that the business still thrives today.”
Floorbrite is a commercial cleaning and facilities provider, and the company employs 1,300 people.

St Ann’s Hospice, one of the charities the book is raising money for, cared for Martin during his illness. Eamonn O’Neal, chief executive, said: “We’re honoured that Linda has chosen St Ann’s to benefit from the proceeds of her fabulous book. It’s such a beautiful tribute to her husband, and the odes cover a delightful mix of topics. Thanks, so much to Linda for her support of the hospice, as the money raised will help us to provide care to other families too.”

To buy a copy of Ode to Life, email Linda on:

The mother-in-law of a patient cared for at St Ann’s Hospice showed her heart-felt thanks recently with some unusual tokens of gratitude.

Pauline Barton delivered a box of beautifully hand-knitted hanging hearts to the hospice in Heald Green as a way to thank the staff and volunteers for the care given to her son-in-law, Colin Wilmouth, last year.

Pauline said “The care that Colin received at St Ann’s was amazing and made such a difference to the way he felt. We were a little concerned when Colin first went into the hospice, but we were all made to feel so welcome and comfortable. They also took care of us as a family and offered so much support to my daughter and Colin’s wife, Julie.

“These hearts are a way for me to express how grateful I am, and I hope they bring some smiles to all the nurses and doctors, volunteers and the rest of the team at St Ann’s.”

Lynsey Ayers, Ward Sister, was one of the team who cared for Colin when he was a patient. She said “We all remember Colin well, and all of his family who were regular visitors at the hospice. It was so lovely to see Pauline and Julie again, and the hearts Pauline has given to us are beautiful. Gifts like this really mean a lot to us, as we know we’ve made a difference to our patients and their loved ones at a very difficult time in their lives.”

The sound of classical music filled St Ann’s Hospice as patients and staff were treated to a live concert recital.

Representatives from the European Doctors’ Orchestra were providing a taste of what to expect when it performs at The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, on Sunday, October 20 (7.30pm).

Their surprise visit to the day care centre at Heald Green promoted the orchestra’s autumn concert which will raise funds for St Ann’s.
Patient Brian Hughes said: “After listening to just a few members of the orchestra here, I’m sure it’ll be a fantastic concert. They’re brilliant musicians and it’s wonderful that doctors from across Europe are coming to Manchester to support patients like me.”

The hospice’s Creative Therapist Ruth Labrow said: “Music unites people and is important therapy for our patients. It’s something everyone can enjoy and as expected the orchestra were extremely popular. The music was evocative, relaxing and helps patients reminisce.”
Bassoonist Kevin O’Sullivan, from Wilmslow, added: “We were overwhelmed by the reception we got at St Ann’s and are thrilled that the entire proceeds from October’s concert in The Bridgewater Hall will go towards enabling the hospice to continue their wonderful work.”

The visiting ensemble also comprised: Huw Purssell (cello); Angelika Wieck and Elaine da Costa (violin); Jenny Merren (viola) and Alfred Pollard (oboe).

Tickets for the concert priced £22.50, including booking fee, are available from The Bridgewater Hall (

The concert, celebrating the human spirit, opens with Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, followed by Brahms’ Song of Destiny and Symphony No. 7 Leningrad by Shostakovich. The orchestra will be accompanied by the St George’s Singers.
The orchestra is made up of European medics who voluntarily use their spare time to perform charity concerts at different Europe-wide locations twice a year.

It’s just over a week now until the Willow Wood Midnight Wander – but there’s still time to join one of the best loved sponsored walks in the area.

It’s so easy, you can register online at or pick up a form from any of our shops or the Hospice reception. And this year, the whole family can join in! Yes, it’s no longer a ladies’ only walk, it’s open to everyone, men, women, boys and girls – you can even bring your dog!

The walk itself will set off from the Astley Sports Village at midnight, but the fun will start much earlier. There’ll be music to listen to, merchandise to buy, and refreshments to enjoy. Then, at around 11.45pm there’ll be a mass warm-up to get you ready for the start of the Midnight Wander itself at, you’ve guessed it, the stroke of midnight.

We’ll have a couple of our volunteer photographers taking photos before and after, and at strategic points along the route, so make sure you’re not only wearing your specially designed Midnight Wander T shirt, (included in the registration fee), but feel free to wear as much pink as possible. Our Hospice reception gift shop is currently selling a large selection of pink products including flashing head bands, flashing cat ears, pink wigs, pink tutus – we’re even going back in time with pink leg warmers and headbands! And if we’re unfortunate enough to have rain in the weather forecast, you’ll be able to buy a pink poncho!

Marshals will be situated at strategic points along the route to ensure you’re headed in the right direction, and they’ll also help stop any traffic to ensure safe crossing at busy junctions. In addition, a number of North West Bike Marshals will also be in attendance to ensure your safety.
There’ll be a very welcome hot sandwich waiting on your return from the 10k walk, along with a specially designed Midnight Wander medal to thank you for your support on this sponsored event. And Willow Wood will welcome every pound you manage to raise; just £20 will pay for an inpatient’s daily meals; £25 will pay for a half hour complementary therapy session, while £75 would pay for full hour of all the START Clinic’s services.

Please join with family and friends to take part in this most fun fundraising event. Join online at now, and you’ll have Willow Wood’s sincere thanks.


Supporters of St Ann’s have a brand new way of playing the hospice’s lottery, potentially winning thousands of pounds in prize money, whilst helping local patients and their families at the same time.

The hospice has announced that, for the first time since its lottery launched almost 25 years ago, supporters are able to purchase tickets in any of its fourteen shops around Greater Manchester. The team has also revamped the prize structure of the weekly lottery, meaning an increased prize pot for local people to potentially get their hands on.

Lottery Manager Trudi Ogden, explained: “The St Ann’s Local Lottery is one of the easiest ways people can show their support for our patients, with the added bonus that they might win a very special prize.

“We’re really excited to announce the new changes to the lottery which mean that in addition to our weekly jackpot of £2,000, we are also now offering a rollover prize of £1,000 a week, up to a maximum of £10,000, and other weekly prizes of £50 for four winners, and £10 for 30 winners too.

“We’ve also made it even easier for our supporters to purchase tickets. They can now simply pop into one of the hospice’s 14 shops around Greater Manchester to buy their weekly £2 ticket, in addition to being able to sign up online at The changes all hopefully mean it’s incredibly simple for local people to take part, and we’d love as many new players as possible to join in.

“It really is an easy way to support the hospice, and with lots of prizes to be won, there’s even more chance of winning. We can’t wait to see who our first lucky winners will be of this newly revamped lottery. We’re all really excited!”

St Ann’s Hospice is a charity which provides care for patients from across Greater Manchester from its three sites in Heald Green, Little Hulton, and The Neil Cliffe Centre, as well as via a range of community and outreach services. Its care is provided free of charge to patients, with the remaining costs of delivering care to thousands of people every year – totalling £20,000 a day – fundraised and brought in via a range of events and trading activities, including the hospice’s lottery.

For more information on St Ann’s or to sign up to play the hospice’s Local Lottery, visit or call 0161 498 3642.

A brand-new book outlining a process to help cancer patients achieve a state of relaxation and calm has been launched at a special event at St Ann’s Hospice.

‘Combining Touch and Relaxation Skills for Cancer Care: The HEARTS process’, by Ann Carter and Peter Mackereth, outlines ways in which patients, health care professionals, complementary therapists and carers can develop an understanding of touch, aromas and the sound of the human voice to aid relaxation and reduce anxiety.

Ann Carter explained: “The HEARTS Process is one I developed more than a decade ago whilst working at The Neil Cliffe Centre. HEARTS – which stands for Hands-on, Empathy, Aromas, Relaxation, Textures and Sound, is a therapeutic approach in which I’ve been training other therapists for several years.

“I wrote the book with my co-author Peter Mackereth, and we hope that its publication will lead to even more patients benefiting from its approach. Relaxation and calm is so incredibly important when it comes to the wellbeing of people with a life-limiting illness such as cancer, and the book outlines simple steps that can be followed to help patients and carers achieve just that.”

Ann has trained therapists in the UK and Ireland to run courses for their colleagues and other therapists and help to increase awareness of the process. Practitioners are also working with patients in Holland, Norway and as far afield as Hong Kong to educate them in how HEARTS could benefit them.

The book was launched at a special event at St Ann’s Hospice’s Heald Green site. Ann added: “It seemed fitting that the launch was held at St Ann’s, especially as the process was actually developed with local patients in their Neil Cliffe Centre site at Wythenshawe Hospital. It was a pleasure to see so many health care professionals gathered together to find out more about the book and ways in which HEARTS might help their patients. Huge thanks to everyone who came along.”

The book is published by Singing Dragon, and can be purchased by visiting