THE new chairman of Bolton Hospice says she will continue to champion one of the town’s most loved institutions.

Judith Bromley, a solicitor and long-term volunteer at the hospice, was appointed to the top role after chairman of six years, Graham Yardley, retired.

Mrs Bromley, a managing partner at Russell and Russell solicitors, says the task of raising the £3.5 million needed to keep the hospice open remains the biggest challenge.

But with the new £500,000 extension due to open this year, Mrs Bromley said she could not be more excited about her new role.

Mrs Bromley — who is married to Hulton councillor Phil Ashcroft — first became involved with the hospice as a volunteer after she lost her father in 1998.

The 51-year-old explained: “When my father was still alive I used to call in and see him after work. He only lived in Deane Church Lane so it was something I did all the time.

“My mum had died four years before so when dad passed away it left a void and I wanted to do something outside of work.

“Neither of my parents had been in the hospice but I’m a Bolton girl and I knew how important it was to people.

“I started by doing two hours on the wards every Monday night. I used to do the ironing or help make drinks for the patients.

“Not only did it help me with my own loss, I loved helping the nurses and the patients.

“As part of my job as a solicitor, I had a lot of experience with elderly clients and I think that lent itself well to helping out at the hospice.”

It was through regular volunteering that Mrs Bromley went on to join the bereavement team before finally joining the board of trustees in 2006.

She added: “The hospice is a very peaceful place but when you see the staff and volunteers in action you realise how incredibly hard they work.

“We have more than 800 volunteers who help the hospice in a variety of roles, from helping out in the charity shops to our volunteer drivers.

“They never cease to amaze me and without them the hospice would not exist. It’s the total support the hospice provides for not just patients but their families too which is so important.”

Mrs Bromley was appointed as chairman in January, a voluntary role as head of the organisation.

While Mrs Bromley will not make any clinical decisions, she will lead the trustees in the governance of the hospice.

She added: “When Graham approached me about becoming chairman I said I’d see what my partners at Russell and Russell thought. They were really supportive and just said go for it. It was an honour to be asked.”