Prestigious royal award for hospice volunteers
VOLUNTEERS who helped collect 55,000 firs for the East Cheshire Hospice Christmas Tree Collection have won a prestigious award from the Queen.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the country’s top award for volunteer groups and recognises more than 300 volunteers for the Macclesfield-based hospice who have raised almost £700,000 in 16 years by collecting trees which are recycled as green waste in return for a donation.
The award was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and is announced to coincide with the anniversary of her coronation.
Volunteers Andrew Robertson, Pete Chapman, Richard Raymond and Tony Middleton put together a special message for volunteers, which said: “This is a great honour and a reward for all the hard work of every volunteer over the past 16 years.
“We are also delighted to acknowledge the enormous contributions from all our supporters – tree customers, sponsors or suppliers. Without you and our helpers, the Christmas Tree Collection could never have succeeded in the way that it has.
“We are already thinking and planning for our 2017 collection, when we hope you’ll once again support us.
“We are hoping this important honour will encourage more hospice tree collections to start up following our example.”
Another 23 hospices around the country are already benefiting from similar schemes.
Rob Barrow DL, chairman of trustees at the hospice, said: “We are so delighted the collection has been recognised. I believe there’s no greater example of a communityled, community-wide effort doing so much good for people at the end of life.
“The volunteer team works all year so that for one weekend in January our community can demonstrate their wonderful support for our charity.”
David Briggs, Lord- Lieutenant of Cheshire, will present the award at the next collection. Money raised helps run the hospice, which needs thousands of pounds each day to operate.
Mike Pyrah, hospice director, said: “I have watched and participated in this phenomenal annual event reaching out to scores of new people every year, raising much-needed funds for end of life care in East Cheshire. One in five of our in-patients and their families are cared for with the money it raises.”
●● The nursing team at East Cheshire Hospice with Christmas Tree Collection organisers. From left, Pete Chapman, Gill Tomlinson, Andrew Robertson, Charlotte Burgess, Clare Preston, Clare Watt, Richard Raymond, Tony Middleton and Sarah Hunter