The Donation Station. Pre-loved goods now being gathered at our Hoylake Donation Centre #wirralhospice #charityshops #pre-loved #volunteers #care #hospicecare #thankyou

Paddy Thumbs UpIt’s 9.45am on a bright Wednesday morning in Market Street in Hoylake. The cafés and bars are preparing their morning coffee and brunch offers, setting out neat tables and chairs for their customers in the open air as well as spacing them safely indoors.

Some retailers are also open and taking the necessary precautions so that their customers can shop safely whilst observing the current coronavirus guidelines.

Wirral Hospice St John’s big new Hoylake Donation Centre (HDC), at the former site of the Coop store, adjacent to The Row in Hoylake, is already buzzing with staff and volunteers sifting through thousands of items of clothing, toys, household items, bags, and jewellery as well as all kinds of weird (occasionally) and wonderful bric-a-brac and accessories that piled in the week before.

From rags (gratefully accepted as we can get a donation for recycling them) to potential riches, witness Hayley in the designer sunglasses alongside other potentially lucrative branded clothing, shoes, handbags and eye-catching curios which will be sorted for the hospice ebay account. Hayley Sunglasses

It’s only the second week of operation but the HDC is in full swing. Everything that has been donated in the previous week has now been safely quarantined (has to be for at least 72 hours).

As the centre is only open on Wednesdays and Thursdays, between 10am and 3pm for donations, all of the previous week’s goodies are now being furiously sorted for re-distribution to the charity shops.

There’s 6,000 square feet of space with the floors clearly marked off ready for the influx of new donors who have booked a slot to drop off their goods at the rear of the donation centre!

At five minutes to ten the first car arrives with a boot (and back seat) full of boxes and bin bags ready to stack onto the loading bay at the rear of the store.

Our supporters have followed the instructions at www.wirralhospice.org/shopping to book a slot and then received an email with a map explaining how to get to the back of the store at their chosen time.

l-r Hayley and Jamie LeighPaddy (Patrick Smith, the hospice’s Retail Development Manager, thumbs up in the pic at the top of this story) is ready, alongside a further two fundraising staff (today it’s Hayley and Jamie-Leigh, pictured below, although a number of others have helped the week before and are ready to step in for the foreseeable future), to greet the hospice supporters, direct them to safely lay down their pre-loved items and then, if they’re eligible, advise them on how to sign-up to Gift Aid to allow the hospice to claim a further 25% on their donated items.

Now, the the safe movement and storage begins and, let me tell you, it’s a virtual marathon!

A steady stream of donors start to unload and, after labelling the bags and boxes which are gift-aided, the team start to make the journey, laden with bags, into the space inside and then back outside to receive/carry more and more goods.

By 11am the team have already clocked up over 4,000 steps each and their biceps and quadriceps are burning. A great workout, just another 4 or 5 hours to go!

Kerry SortingMeanwhile, Kerry  (in green here), Sue (in hospice blue below) and Helen (too shy for photo), who normally volunteer at our New Brighton shop, are in the ‘space beyond storage’, opening bin bags and boxes, at socially distanced tables, while organizing everything ready for transport to our shops at Moreton, Liscard, Birkenhead and New Brighton which have recently re-opened.Sue Sorting

In time our other charity shops, at Claughton, Heswall and West Kirby, will also open and the stock that is now flooding into the Hoylake Donation Centre will help to fill up their rails, shelves and displays.​​​​​​​

Having to close the shops these past several months due to the coronavirus has inevitably hit revenues hard. All of the donations and the hard work of staff and volunteers gives us all the greatest belief that we will, as soon as allowed, rebuild the charity shops back to making their massive financial contribution to the specialist care and support services for which the hospice is held in such high regard.

Quite Rightly!

There is now a limited service for people wanting to donate larger items, sofas, three-piece suites, beds, wardrobes and other furniture items. Time and space is currently at a premium for this and potential donors are being asked to send photos, with fire labels where appropriate, to fundraising@wirralhospice.org to join the waiting list for pick up.

There are also opportunities for people who live in or close to Hoylake, and who might like to volunteer to help with sorting goods, to join the effort. Any people who may have some time to spare, can use the same email address to register their interest. 

The ‘V’ to ‘V’ of Valiant Volunteers at Wirral Hospice St John’s #volunteers #volunteering #VolunteersWeek #hospiceheroes #wirralhospice #caring #thankyou

Volunteers Week’ is an annual celebration of the massive contribution volunteers make to the multitude of organisations doing good works in all of our communities.

It’s run by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) which champions the voluntary sector and volunteering Wendie 2across the UK.

Our Wirral Hospice St John’s volunteers add so much to the life of the hospice but, as with many organisations, the coronavirus crisis has meant that the overwhelming majority of ours, some 500 of them, have been asked to stay at home until conditions prevail which will allow them to return to us.

To say we miss them is an understatement. We miss them like crazy!

Norma 2In normal times they are simply ‘here’ for us, at the hospice and in our Wirral Community. They’re part of the hospice family, They are, very often in fact, the ‘face’ of the hospice.

  • At main, outpatients and fundraising receptions they get people to where they want to go physically or by telephone. You’ll always be greeted with a friendly ‘hello, how can I help you’.
  • Inpatient ward general duties volunteers bring patients their drinks and often stop for a friendly chat or even help patients to share their stories. In our Wellbeing Centre volunteers will also make patients a nice drink, engage them in enriching and fun activities, facilitate group chats and be ‘on hand’ to alert our nursing staff if there’s a clinical need.liz 1
  • At fundraising events there are always volunteers to direct our supporters to help them sign in, to buy cakes and refreshments and to sell raffle and tombola tickets and the like.
  • Out in the community there are some 150 volunteers who work shifts in our charity shops or at the hospice gift shop (in the run up to Christmas) to advise customers, sort out donated stock, dress windows and serve. Others help our retail team by assessing and preparing those donated items which are potentially more valuable for ebay.
  • Bill Collins with CaroleOur volunteers come in all shapes and sizes, counting all the pennies that come in from collection boxes sited all over Wirral, helping in accounts, tending to the hospice gardens, collecting lottery cash and even holding their own community fundraising gatherings.

Every single one of them is an inspiration and they choose to volunteer for many and varied reasons. Some young people like to bolster their CV and gain work experience, others, often older, retired and greatly experienced, have lived in Wirral for years and know the work of the hospice and many have also had their own personal experience of the hospice’s caring services, through spouses, family and friends.

What is also true is that they’ve always got their hands in their pockets. Not in the ‘standing around’ sense, but in their generous support of the hospice with their own money. They’re incredible people.Ann D 2

From time to time we’ve shared stories from some of our vigorous, vibrant, valuable, versatile and (often) vivacious volunteers and we’ve linked you to some of them again to recall all of their great work.

If you click on their name below it will take you to their story so, in no particular order,

Wendie Darlington: Will do whatever’s needed for Wirral Hospice St John’s

Norma Edwards: Radiating positive energy in our Wellbeing Centre

Liz MunroOur gently effective fundraising volunteer, ‘par excellence’

Bill Collins: 30+ years an inpatients ward volunteer and regular ‘Light up a Life’ poet 

Ann Dermody: At the heart of the community at our Liscard charity shop

Susan Seed: Hospice friend, supporter and volunteer, since day one!

Niamh McEvoy: A young volunteer who ‘goes for it’ in our Moreton charity shop

Geoff ShannonA charismatic former telescope engineer in our Wellbeing Centre

Marianne Sunter: Retired chemistry teacher who reacts brilliantly to any situation

Colin MiddlebroughA volunteer we can all count on

Sue AWe hope you enjoy their stories as much as we value their, and all of our other vivid volunteers, precious time and excellent company.

Here’s a list of all the ‘V‘ words you can put in front of the word ‘volunteer’ to reinforce their priceless contributions.Colin

Valiant – showing courage and determination

Valuable – extremely useful and important, worth a great deal

Valorous – great courage in the face of danger

Va Va Voom – exciting, vigorous and attractive

Marianne 1

Varied – a number of different types or elements

Vaunted – praised or boasted about

Vaulting – prepared to jump over obstacles

Venerable – accorded a great deal of respect especially because of age, wisdom or character

Veracious – speaking or representing the truth

Versatile – able to adapt or be adapted to many functions or activities

Versed – experienced or skilled in: Knowledgeable about

Vivid – intensely bright, lively and vigorous

Niamh 3

Vigilant – keeping careful watch for dangers or difficulties

Vibrant – full of energy and life

VIP’s – very important people

Vigorous – strong, healthy and full of life

Geoff

Vim – Energy and enthusiasm

Virtuous – having or showing high moral standards

Vital – absolutely necessary, essential

Vivacious – attractively lively and animated

Vocal – expressing opinions freely (or loudly)

Vroom – the idea of speed or acceleration

It’s safe to say, Wirral Hospice St John’s VIP volunteers bring a veracious, vital value and variety, to all that we do. Verily!

Author: Billy Howard

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!).

wirral hospice go yellow 2017 12 pat lorna

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

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