Spotlight On Marianne Sunter, a former chemistry teacher who ‘reacts’ brilliantly when we need her precious time. #wirralhospice #volunteer #wirral #family #hospice #teaching #hospicehero

Marianne 1The phrase, ‘you can take that to the bank’, is confirmation that a valuable item, or a piece of information, is safe and secure. You can rely on it!

Wirral Hospice St John’s has a bank of volunteers who make themselves available, almost at the drop of a hat, to cover holidays and the ill health of other volunteers. They are, by definition, dependable people. Marianne Sunter is one such valiant volunteer.

She gives us her valuable time on main reception when called upon. Her ability to organise and prioritise, not surprising for a former deputy head teacher, is clear. The fact that she’s also very friendly and welcoming brings a mix of skills that are perfect for directing people to our patients and staff at Wirral Hospice St John’s.Marianne 2

Marianne was born and brought up in Wirral. She attended St Laurence’s Primary School in Birkenhead (merged into St Werburgh’s in 2010)  and then attained the qualifications which took her to the Holt Hill Convent school, the sister school of Upton Hall School FCJ (where Marianne actually spent the first five years of her teaching career).

Loving learning and challenging herself at school, she achieved her Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award  and was further inspired to choose a career in teaching after gaining her degree in Chemistry at the University of Liverpool.

In all, she spent 38 years in teaching. Her career flourished at Box Hill School in Surrey where she was for 33 years, rising to become its deputy head teacher for the latter 15 of them. Not surprisingly, “I tend to throw myself into every challenge”, Marianne also ran the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme at Box Hill.

In her role, she’s been in private audience with Prince Philip himself and has also met Princes Andrew and Edward, and also Princess Anne. She is happy to advocate and uphold the values of the school she spent so long at, international understanding, democracy, a care for the world around us, a sense of adventure, and the qualities of leadership and service. 

In 1992 Marianne met the love of her life, and future husband, Jim. Jim had already enjoyed a career working in air freight which had taken him around the world. He was, literally, a ‘high-flying’ executive!

At the time, and still maybe, it was a natural move to retire from a fast moving and successful career in one industry to takeover the management of a country pub and hotel. The Running Horses, on London Road in Surrey, is just such a place! It’s also right over the road from Box Hill School and fate brought Jim and Marianne together.

It’s fair to say that the pub wasn’t all Jim had envisaged and just two years later he was working at Box Hill, initially as a groundsman but, like Marianne, was happy to go above and beyond. (Here they are pictured together). In his 16 years at Box Hill he grew their thousands of bedding plants every year, managed several allotments, looked after all the school buses and coordinated the transport for all outside activities. He also found time to make and paint scenery for school plays and run the bars for parents’ events.Marianne and Jim

Jim developed Kidney problems at around sixty two years of age. From 2011 he was receiving dialysis at home under the care of their local NHS (and his personal ‘nurse’, Marianne). By 2015, Jim’s kidneys were failing and he was finally admitted to the Renal Unit at St Helier Hospital in Carshalton. The decision was taken to stop his dialysis and to live out his days as comfortably and happy as possible.

It was Jim’s palliative care consultant, Dr Swift, “Swift by name, swift by nature” Marianne says, who, at the right time, arranged for the transfer to St Catherine’s Hospice in Sussex.

Marianne remembers, “From the moment he arrived at the hospice he was quickly free from pain and felt very peaceful. I was struck by how attentive the hospice staff and volunteers were. Jim’s full name was William James Sunter and at hospital people would refer to him as William. From the moment we arrived, the staff  at St Catherine’s Hospice knew him, like he was known by everyone, as Jim! Just like at Wirral Hospice St John’s, people were friendly, empathetic, compassionate but, somehow, just ‘normal’, fun even… at the right time! Human, I suppose.”

Marianne and stepdaughter, Joanne, were holding hands with Jim when he died on 15th May, 2015.

Marianne had retired to be with Jim and has now re-settled in Wirral. She is a massive advocate of hospice care and takes a keen interest reading the history of the hospice movement and its ethos. She has great admiration for the work of Dame Cicely Saunders in establishing hospice care and shows me an excerpt from an account of her life (by Jennifer Worth of ‘Call the Midwife’ fame) and matches it to her own experience;

The primary objective of a hospice is to show that death does not need to be a time of suffering but a time to achieve fulfilment. It encompasses the quiet unsung lives of ordinary people. People who have lived simply in a small circle, doing their best and achieving great things, in small ways. My husband (Jim) was such a person. His life was not spectacular but he was a good man and one of the wisest people I have known. He died quietly and peacefully as he had lived with his daughter and I on either side holding his hands. This is life coming full circle.

Both Jim and Marianne were held in such high esteem at Box Hill (see page 08 at this link by clicking here, that there is now an annual award in their name and Jim’s memory, ‘The Sunter Award.’ This goes to the student who has gone above and beyond the normal course of study every year. (Marianne is pictured here presenting the first award to a young man, Josh Barnett, who she says is always a great ambassador for the school).Marianne 3

Nowadays Marianne is in close touch with stepdaughter Joanne, married to Mark, with granddaughters Georgina 21 and Phoebe 16. They experienced their own sadness in losing a little boy Owen after 5 days who is still remembered by all the family. There’s also stepson, Mike, married to Emma with five-year-old, Leo.

Marianne has two brothers. Eldest, Gerry, who lives in Prenton, is married to Barbara. Their son, Matthew has Marianne’s great-niece, Alice and great nephew, Sam. Gerry and Barbara’s daughter, Claire, lives in Wirral with husband Dave and have more great-nephews for Marianne, Adam 10 and Luke 6.

Her other brother Philip, married to Helen, lives in New Zealand and their daughter Alexandra is married and lives in Missouri.

She also has an Aunt, Catherine known as Carrie, who will receive a telegram from The Queen for her 100th birthday in July this year.

As well as making her contribution to the hospice, Marianne adds her considerable experience in education as the chair of governors of St Oswald’s Primary School in Mollington, Chester.

To relax, Marianne is part of a quiz team called The Soapsuds (they’re based at Port Sunlight’s Lever Club). They are in Division One of the Wirral Quiz League and regularly compete in cup matches organised by the larger Merseyside Quiz Leagues.

What I had to find out from somebody else (not mentioning anyone, but Carole Snow is our volunteer services manager!) is that Marianne also took part in the ITV quiz show, The Chase, hosted by Bradley Walsh. For aficionados, she and another lady, Mia, reached the last two to face The Vixen in the final chase. See the action on You Tube by clicking here.

So, with piles of energy, commitment, knowledge and enthusiasm we’re looking forward to seeing Marianne here at the hospice for a lot of years ahead. In fact, I think we can safely say, where Marianne is concerned, you can take that to the bank!

Author: Billy Howard

Spotlight On: #wirralhospice #lottery; a chance to win, a way to care… EVERY WEEK #hospicelottery #inittowinit #lotterywinner #charity #wirral #wirralhospice

Lottery ballsOn the 2nd Jan, 1998, the Spice Girls were topping the charts with their famous ballad, Too Much. It was the same day as Wirral Hospice St John’s ran our first lottery draw. The first £2,000 jackpot winner certainly didn’t think it was ‘too much’ and many more people since, can only agree.

Today, our hospice lottery has grown to around 12,500 players every week making a massive contribution to the essential specialist palliative care and support services our charity provides for the people of Wirral.

Wirral Hospice’s lottery is a fun way to get involved and to have a chance of winning a decent cash prize. However, many people will say that they’re NOT in it to win it and see it very much as a way of showing their support. It’s all above board as we’re regulated by the Gambling Commission and we always ask people to gamble responsibly.

For just £1 each week (£4.34 a month), a member will be issued with a unique five figure number which is then entered into our random electronic draw every Friday. Once the numbers have run, we contact the big winners by phone and then have to ensure all the cheques are sent out to the lucky lottery prize winners.

Carl, our Lottery Manager: “The best job of the week is calling up the first prize winner and letting them know that they’ve won £2,000! I’ve had tears and laughter with the winners, and I’ve also had the odd expletive from a couple of people who didn’t believe me!”

27.07.18Wirral Hospice’s top lottery prize is very nice at £2,000, but often the second prize is even bigger. In fact the £500 second prize, can ‘rollover’ up to a maximum of £10,000!

The explanation for this is that the random number generator can stop on any one of 100,000 numbers (00000 to 99999) for each prize. The machine keeps going until it finds an actual player’s number for the £2,000 and every other of the total of 34 prizes, except for the second prize.

If the number it falls on for the second prize is NOT any of our player’s numbers – it rolls over by £500 a week. It can be won at any multiple of £500 as it rolls but, at 20 weeks, the machine is set so that the 2nd prize must be won if it hasn’t been before then.

It is fantastic when anyone wins but it is especially gratifying when a long term member’s number comes up for one of the big prizes! Our most recent £10,000 winner was a lady from Rock Ferry who had been a member of our lottery, for all of its 20 years.

“That was particularly heart-warming” says Carl, “the lady was surprised, shocked and delighted, all at the same time. It was a great call to make”.

Carl’s team of dedicated lottery staff and volunteers consists of 2 x part-time  administrators, 3 x canvassers, 2 x collectors and a further small number of invaluable volunteers who, variously, sell single tickets, send out winning cheques, post reminder/new members’ letters and also do some community subscriptions collecting.

In its early days, the Wirral Hospice St John’s lottery was very much a ‘cash collection’ operation – people signed up and committed to paying £4.00 every four weeks. The legacy is that we continue to collect cash from a significant number of people around the Wirral. For many, especially older people, it is the only way they will play. A friendly face every four weeks is something they look forward to. Rachel, Ian and Tracy are our cheery collectors.

Also out and about in all weathers our canvassers, Lawrence, Lynne and Nigel are knocking on doors! They are assigned an area and off they go. We know there is a lot of competition for people’s charity pound(s) these days. Despite the challenges of ‘cold -calling’, many people do sign-up on the doorstep or, in the small businesses we sometimes call on. It’s a great way for people to get involved and demonstrate the goodwill they feel towards the hospice.

The canvassers will tell you that 99% of people are very polite. Sometimes the strategy is to warm people up with a lottery branded leaflet to let them know that they’ll be getting a knock soon. Sometimes they’ll just knock and win people over immediately with a mix of charm and gentle persuasion. Wirral Hospice St John’s is certainly ‘worth it’ to them.

Nowadays, many people will make a card payment or commit to a standing order. As a nod towards the electronic age people can also sign up at our website. Some traditionalists still like to use their trusty cheque-books!

Our administrators, Kate and Laura, are busy every day (they share the hours) answering queries from new and existing players, while processing the quarterly, half yearly or annual payments of existing members. They also make sure all the weekly single ticket numbers are entered into the draw. When they’ve balanced the books, by Thursday pm, double-checked by Carl on a Friday morning, the draw is ready to roll!

Like every other part of the hospice, the lottery team is complemented by the commitment and support of our wonderful volunteers. There are up to 20 people who collect monies in their own communities and we are eternally grateful to them.

We reserve a special thanks to Margie Freeman, our dynamic fundraising volunteer . She’s a frequent visitor to the Carr Farm Garden Centre, as well as other places and events on our behalf, selling hundreds of single lottery tickets.

Very special mentions must also include, our most recently retired (after 20 years), former canvassing/collecting stalwart, Irene Howard, and our previous, ultra-efficient, administrator, Debbie Pierce (also with us for 19 years!).

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Pat and Lorna (right) in one of many poses for our social media activities!

And last, but definitely not least, is hospice volunteer Lorna. Every Friday as she enters the fundraising office there is a  loud, welcoming cheer. She’s 92 years young and is still helping as a volunteer, to pack and post large numbers of lottery letters every week. If you’ve ever received a winners’ cheque in the last 14 years, chances are that Lorna packed it into the envelope with love to you.

Finally, this week’s lottery rollover is a fantastic £4,500! We came in mentioning the Spice Girls and Too Much, but I think we might all have one ear on that Luther Vandross hit, Never Too Much!

Author: Billy Howard

#Christmastree #recycling in support of your local Hospice #charity #newyear #volunteers

As Christmas is now over we thought we would send a reminder about this year’s Christmas tree recycling scheme. If you haven’t already booked your real tree in for collection there is still time for you to do so.

In return for a suggested £5 or £7 donation, depending on the size of your tree, we will come to your house and take your old, wilting tree away! Please visit our website and follow the links to book in your collection.

Bookings will close at midnight on Wednesday 4th January 2017.

We will then be collecting trees from 9.30am to 4pm daily on Saturday 7th January through to Thursday 12th January.

Volunteer support would also be very welcome, almost 1,000 trees have been signed up at the time of sending this email! If you have a transit or big box van and could help on Saturday 7th and/or Sunday 8th January (or any of the dates leading up to 12th January), please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Fundraising Office on 0151 343 0778. Hard hats, high vis jackets, a packed lunch will be provided along with a hearty slap on the back!

Equally, if you’d have a wood chipping machine and would benefit from having chippings from several hundred trees, please also get in touch. The more drop-off points we have the better to keep our mileage costs as low as possible.

Many thanks for your valued support!
The Fundraising Team xx

Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

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Our dedicated volunteers at Wirral Hospice St John’s have been honoured with the presentation of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service at a special celebration evening held at Neston Cricket Club on Monday 31 October 2016.

The evening was attended by more than 100 of the Hospice’s 500+ volunteers who help the Hospice in many ways, including patient care and family support, reception, admin, gardening, housekeeping and fundraising.

The prestigious award was presented by the Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside, Dame Lorna Muirhead DBE and graciously received by Mrs Sandra Fairclough and Ms Emma McKeown on behalf of the Hospice’s volunteers.

Other dignitaries supporting the event were Deputy Lieutenants Colonel Martin Amlot and Mr Stephen Burrows, and Deputy Mayor, Mrs Ann McLachlan.

Julie Gorry, Wirral Hospice’s Chief Executive said: “We are very proud of our volunteers who are so deserving of this special honour.

“Our volunteers are at the heart of everything we do here in providing such a special place of care and support for our patients and their loved ones. We could not run without the immense amount of time, energy and expertise our volunteers bring to our charity.

“Thank you to each and every volunteer for what you bring to us, your kindness and dedication shines through.”

Photos from the night are in our Facebook album Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service Presentation Evening which can be viewed even if you don’t have a Facebook account.

If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a Wirral Hospice volunteer, please visit our Jobs & Volunteering web section or contact Carole Snow on 0151 334 2778.

Author: Teresa Nightingale

 

 

#Fundraising News

 

DSC_0042 (3).jpgThere are lots of ways people can and do support our charity’s special work. Thank you to everyone who fundraises or supports local fundraising activities in aid of Wirral Hospice St John’s, we are very grateful for your help.

Here are some upcoming activities you might be interested in:

Lottery Rollover stands at £7,000!!!
Our Hospice’s weekly lottery has a top weekly prize of £2,000 and the second prize of £500 can rollover up to £10,000! There are also 32 other guaranteed cash prizes to be won every week. For this week’s draw on Fri 24 June 2016, the Rollover currently stands at an amazing £7,000!!!

If you would like to become a weekly member, paying £1 a week, please call our lottery team on 0151 334 0348 or pop in to the fundraising office. You’ve got to be ‘in it to win it’! A chance to win…a way to care!

National Gardens Scheme (NGS) Open Garden: Wed 22 June 1.30-5pm
3 Earle Drive, Parkgate CH64 6RY
Beautiful garden, new to the NGS calendar this year. Admission £3 adults, free for children. Refreshments on sale in aid of our Hospice.

Band Night: Sat 25 June, 7.30pm til late
Village Hall, Thornton Hough
Entry fee: suggest donation of £10 to the Hospice
Bands: Absaloot, Survivors of Mild Peril and Mono LPS.
Organised by supporter Andy Barnes to mark his 50th birthday in support of the Hospice.
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Summer Strum: Sat 9 July 12-9pm & Sun 10 July, 12-6pm
Hoylake Rugby Club
Weekend of folk music organised by the Wirral Ukulele Orchestra, Summer Strum is in aid of our charity and MIND. Free entry, great family atmosphere. Camping spots even available if you don’t fancy travelling back and to. Should be a cracking weekend!
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London to Paris: 20-24 July
Our team of intrepid Hospice Heroes will be taking on the challenge of cycling from London to Paris. An amazing amount of money has been raised by the group so far and there are some incredibly moving stories as to why they are taking on these personal goals.

If you’d like to support any of our cyclists with a donation or are perhaps even keen to take on your own personal challenge, even if it isn’t quite as arduous as cycling 300miles, please contact Michelle, Sam or Jamie-Leigh on 0151 343 0778 about what runs and challenges we have coming up.
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It’s A Knockout: Sat 30 July
Wirral Rugby Club
Ever wanted to take part in hit TV show from yonder years? Now is your chance! £10 per person, teams of 6-10 and we can help make up teams. Please get in touch with Jamie-Leigh on 0151 343 0778 if you fancy a whirl or would like to volunteer at the event. It should be a fantastic laugh and great atmosphere for participants and spectators. Free entry for those coming along to watch and cheer on the teams, there will be food stalls and a bar, as well as children’s rides and entertainment too.
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sainsburys money boxPlease vote for us in the Sainsbury’s Local Charity Public Vote!
We’ve been shortlisted for both Sainsbury’s Upton and Sainsbury’s Neston it would be great to get selected to one of their partners and truly incredible if we end up partnering with both! Votes count, so please do it on work computers and any mobiles, laptops, tablets etc you have at home. Please encourage your friends and family to vote for us too. We only have until Sun 26 June to register votes so don’t put it off too long, please!

If you have any questions, suggestions or burning ideas to raise funds for Wirral Hospice’s special care and support of our patients and their loved ones, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me: Teresa Nightingale, Head of Fundraising 0151 343 0778  /  fundraising@wirralhospice.org, thank you.

Best wishes
Teresa x
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