ANYONE who has experienced the amazing care, support and compassion provided by Bolton Hospice will know what a special – and crucial – service it is for the people of this borough.

I was honoured, after stepping down as editor of The Bolton News last year, to be invited to become a trustee on the hospice board. During my time as a local journalist I gained a good understanding of just how important the work done by the hospice is and The Bolton News has supported it from the beginning.

The newspaper spearheaded the campaign to get the hospice built and it eventually opened its doors in 1992 after magnificent support for the people of the borough. The Bolton News has published countless stories about the hospice and events to raise funds in the 27 years since.

I thought I knew all there was to know about the hospice before becoming a trustee. But being so closely involved over the past few months has opened my eyes even further to how hard staff and volunteers work to keep providing such a vital service all year round in very challenging conditions, as ‘competition’ among charities becomes stronger.

The team works tirelessly to organise fund-raising events and it is wonderful when someone raises a tonne of money through a fund-raising event, or leaves a gift in a will.

However, one of the most striking things I have learned is that every donation, no matter how small, makes a real difference and contributes to the care the hospice provides.

Its website even outlines what service or resource a specific amount of money can provide. It’s a well-used cliché, but every penny does count. Chief executive Leigh Vallance and her team work hard to enable Bolton Hospice to provide the top class, compassionate care it is famous for. The fact is, though, none of that would be possible without the support from Bolton’s community – either by giving time or a financial donation.

Last night, I helped to host a Patrons’ Evening at the magnificent Bolton Museum. It was an opportunity for the hospice to thank those who have signed up to the Patron Scheme.

There are four levels of the scheme, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum, depending on the size of annual donation. Patrons receive a number of benefits, which include invitations to special Patrons’ events, acknowledgement of their support in the Hospice's main reception, opportunities to promote the company’s support of the Hospice digitally and in print, plus a host of others.

However, the biggest benefit of being a Patron - and why those who sign up get so much from it - is that you will be helping to fund specialist care for patients and families when they need it most.

It takes a lot of money to provide such care and, through this week’s column, I wanted to make more people aware of the scheme. You can be sure that if you join, your donation will be used for the Bolton community to provide care at the most crucial time in a person’s life. See