The 50th anniversary of St Ann’s Hospice brings back lots of happy memories for Dehrne Hancock who even threw herself off Manchester Town Hall for the sake of the charity.
Her head for heights also saw an abseil down the CIS Tower, the Co-op headquarters in the city centre and at one time the tallest building in the country.
Such bravery was all in a day’s work for Dehrne in her role as the hospice’s corporate fundraiser, a post she took up after organising a charity fun weekend at Grove Park sports ground in Cheadle Hulme. That was on behalf of Manchester Rugby Club and Cheadle Hulme Cricket Club, both of which her husband David captained. The occasion, in May 1995, marked the 25th birthday of the clubs’ home. The couple have been proud members for 50 years.
That event was also used to launch a Silver Jubilee Appeal for St Ann’s to count down to its same anniversary at the Heald Green site the following year. Dehrne did so well as organiser that William Stewart, Appeals Director at the hospice at the time, persuaded her to work for the charity soon after.
It wasn't as terrifying as jumping off the town hall at my first fundraising event! The fun weekend was a joint effort and cemented a great friendship with the hospice, raising £7,000 for the two organisations. Dehrne Hancock
The Bramhall grandmother recalled: “We had a fabulous weekend and although it took a lot of planning, it wasn’t as terrifying as jumping off the town hall at my first fundraising event!
“The fun weekend was a joint effort and cemented a great friendship with the hospice, raising £7,000 for the two organisations.
“I remember we had over 250 members at a quiz in a marquee on the cricket pitch on the Friday night before an Antiques road show the next morning.
“World renowned jazz musician Humphrey Lyttelton entertained a 450-strong audience at a black tie dinner the same night, while the next day we staged a celebrity cricket match between soap stars and United and City players.
“We used the marquee for a Sunday soul night and ended the Bank Holiday weekend with a family fun day.” said Dehrne.
Highlights while working at St Ann’s included helping organise the BBC’s Songs of Praise, the first televised event from the newly-opened Bridgewater Hall in 1996.
Dehrne’s duties involved driving TV news presenter Martyn Lewis there in her Mini. She said: “We pulled up at the traffic lights near the hospice and a passer-by was amazed when they spotted who was in the car. Martyn was hosting the programme.”
Another abiding memory was helping organise ‘2,000 in 2000,’ a millennium choir concert at the Manchester Arena featuring 2,000 male voices.
Dehrne still supports the hospice and her team from Bramhall Golf Club have entered the next St Ann’s Golf Day at Dunham Forest Golf and Country Club.