BBC Today programme presenter Nick Robinson is new hospice patron
PUBLISHED: 16:31 14 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:31 14 September 2020
Macclesfield’s Nick Robinson on his role at East Cheshire Hospice
At times like this, it’s good to look for the positives amid all the gloom. There isn’t much you can say that is good at a global pandemic but – and bear with me as I’m having to try hard here – it has allowed me another 15 minutes in bed.
My alarm clock now goes at the positively luxurious time of 3.45 am. By presenting Radio 4’s Today programme from my basement I have gained a whole quarter of an hour’s lie-in.
More importantly, the crisis has given me the opportunity to talk to and be inspired by many of those on the frontline – looking for a vaccine to the coronavirus, treating those unlucky enough to get it, or working tirelessly to make sure that those they care for do not catch what could, for them, be a life-threatening infection.
Few conversations I have had have inspired me more than that I had a few weeks back with Karyn Johnston, chief executive at East Cheshire Hospice. The hospice offers sanctuary and reassurance, making those last few precious days tolerable and manageable by helping to ease the anxieties when someone reaches the end of their life. Karyn had to tear up many of the tried and tested ways she cares for people in order to keep everyone at the hospice – staff, patients and visitors – as safe as possible.
I was speaking to her while chairing an event after East Cheshire hospice did me the great honour of asking me to become a patron of the charity in June. It’s a place with which I will always have a special bond. My dad spent his last few days there. I’ll never forget the amazing care he and we – my mother, my brother and sister and all our own children – received at that difficult time.
As well as speaking to the staff I’ve begun a series of interviews with a series of high-profile folk who, like me, want to support the hospice. Local lad Terry Waite spoke movingly about his time in solitary confinement as a hostage in Beirut and the lessons it had taught him for dealing with lockdown. Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell – the vice-chancellor of Manchester University – talked about the challenges she had faced trying to keep students safe while keeping the university running and solvent. We’ve called the series Meeting of Minds. Still to come are
Jim (now Lord) O’Neill, the city economist who is a driving force behind the Northern Powerhouse Partnership and Sir John Timpson who, with his late wife Alex, used their shoe repair empire to help others, by fostering 90 children and employing more than 600 ex-offenders.
There is a lot of kindness and generosity out there – among those who work for local charities such as East Cheshire Hospice, and those who support them. Many are struggling to make ends meet as the pandemic has denied them the chance to have their normal fundraising events.
The hospice has lost more than £1m in income and that really matters, as it is the second lowest-funded hospice in the country – securing less than a fifth of its income from the government.
Helping to raise funds is one way I can give back to my home patch – home still to the rest of my family. It also helps me sleep a little sounder for those extra 15 minutes.
For more information about East Cheshire Hospice visit www.eastcheshirehospice.org.uk.
Nick Robinson, who was born and bred in Macclesfield, has a distinguished career in radio and television, presenting Radio 4’s flagship Today programme since 2015. His father Robbie spent his final days at East Cheshire Hospice and Nick’s role as patron will involve promoting the charity’s work, including hosting Meeting of Minds, a series of exclusive virtual events with high-profile guest speakers.