Unsung Manchester heroes you should know for International Women’s Day

St Ann’s Hospice are celebrating the women that have founded and continue to grow their charity this International Women’s Day.

By Sam Izard on March 8, 2024

Barbara Thackray


Barbara Thackray is a nearly 86-year-old grandmother who has been supporting St Ann’s Hospice for over 10 years since her late sister Audrey was a patient at the hospice and wanted to give something back after the excellent care her sister received.

Barbara runs the Altrincham 10k, her hometown, and Trafford 10k every year – always being the oldest participant in both races. Barbara has raised over £21,000 through her fundraising and has also raised an incredible amount of awareness for the hospice.

Barbara took part in adidas’ ‘impossible is nothing’ campaign last year, where she was seen all over the world and promoted the hospice in a way that’s never been done before, with over 6 million views online.

To support Barbara with her fundraising please see her JustGiving page here.


Dr Moya Cole


St Ann’s Hospice was founded by an incredible woman, Dr Moya Cole OBE, with the Heald Green site in Stockport opening in 1971 and Moya was instrumental in the decision for St Ann’s to open a second hospice in Little Hulton in Salford in 1979.

Moya was born in 1918 and was originally from Cavan in Northern Ireland. Moya was a massive trailblazer for women as well as a huge intellect.

She graduated with a BSc degree in physics from Queen’s University in Belfast in 1939 and earning an even more impressive MSc a year later. This is a huge achievement for anyone, let alone for a young woman so many decades ago.

Moya spent nearly 30 years as a consultant working in radiotherapy and oncology, and among her achievements she did ground-breaking work on breast cancer too.

It is fair to say that without Moya Cole’s vision and determination there would be no St Ann’s Hospice. Yet almost unbelievably not many people know her name and her founding role in the hospice’s history.

Belinda Neild

Belinda Neild has been fundraising for St Ann’s Hospice over the last 13 years, originally in memory of her mum, and then father-in-law and mum’s siblings too.

Belinda’s Mum was a patient at the Little Hulton site of St Ann’s Hospice before she passed away at home in 2011. Her father-in-law and aunt have died at the hospice since, with lasting connections being made between her family and St Ann’s.

Last year Belinda hit the milestone of raising £27,000 for the hospice and is an incredible ambassador for St Ann’s and the hospice movement.

As part of her fundraising Belinda has run over 10 marathons in costume, including a Rubik’s cube, Forrest Gump and a sumo wrestler.

Belinda has several Guinness Book of Records to her name, two of which are the fastest time running a marathon dressed as an item of stationery – a red crayon first then as a pencil!

This May Belinda is embarking on her toughest challenge to date – a 50 mile ultra-marathon with 2593m of ascent on the trails in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

To add to this Belinda and her husband are taking on the London Marathon, which is just two weeks before the ultra-marathon. To support Belinda with her running adventures, please see the link here.

Liz Waring

One of the longest serving workers at St Ann’s Hospice is Liz Waring, who joined as an auxiliary nurse in 1985 and still works there today.

Liz now works as an Outpatient assistant, supporting the Being You Centre and Medical Outpatients to meet patients’ individual needs.

Liz has seen many changes over the years and has enjoyed being part of the expansion of services to meet the needs of patients in the Greater Manchester area. The completion of the new building at the Heald Green hospice site coincides with Liz’s 40th year at St Ann’s and she is excited to celebrate both.

One of the memories that she’ll never forget from working at the hospice is when Princess Diana visited St Ann’s in her first year of working there!

Liz says: “I love that every day is different at St Ann’s, it’s such a rewarding job and it’s a great place to work. Staff feel valued and I am supported by an amazing Team. The opening of the new building is very exciting and will make such an incredible difference to our patients and staff.”

To find out how you can support these incredible women who do so much for St Ann’s Hospice, see more here.