The Real McCoy: Complementary Therapy volunteer Helen McCoy explains how she and husband Hal love volunteering for Wirral Hospice St John’s

Published on: 22/03/2024

Helen working with a family member

Helen McCoy’s smile lights up the room.

You’re immediately at ease in her company and she gives off such a positive energy that you know she’s the right person to be delivering complementary therapies for our patients and their family members.

Helen will tell you that things haven’t always been as bright for her in the last couple of years as she lost dad, David, in August 2022 to advanced prostate cancer. David had been living with Helen and husband, Hal, in the 18 months before he finally passed away. It was seven years after Helen’s mum, Dot, had also died with cancer.

Helen considers the two days per week she devotes to the hospice as a deserved payback for the love and support received by her dad, David, through our Hospice at Home team and a lovely MacMillan nurse, Sheila.

Part of coming to terms with her losses was a little time spent with our bereavement services coordinator, also Sheila, who then referred her to the, now retired, hospice spiritual coordinator, Heather, who Helen says was “simply wonderful.”

She started to have hope again as Heather’s greatest skill was listening. Helen could confidentially share how she was feeling. Heathers’ gentle reassurances got Helen back on track. Helen says the remembrance service she attended had a profound impact on her journey from feeling, frankly, bleak, to being herself again.

Helen and Hal were romantically hitched in Gretna Green followed in fairly quick succession with children, Steven, Lauren and Tom, who were  born in 2001, 2002 and 2003, respectively!

Older son Josh and his wife, Pauline, now also have ‘Granny McCoy’s’ and Hal’s grandchildren, Aaron and Josh Junior.

As her children were growing up Helen had become a fully trained holistic therapist. Reiki, aromatherapy, healing using crystals, Swedish (lighter touch), hot stone and Indian head massage. Since joining the hospice as a volunteer, Helen has added oncology massage to her repertoire.

Melanie and Helen

Helen had also remained friends with Wirral Hospice St John’s trustee and treasurer, Julie Wynne, who she’d met at their children’s schoolgates. It was Julie sharing that the hospice needed complementary therapist volunteers that led Helen to apply.

She leapt at the chance to join Melanie’s, our hospice complementary therapist, volunteer team. Helen’s now at the hospice every Wednesday and Thursday delivering the complementary therapies that patients and their families tell us make such an important role in lifting their mood, improving sleep and overall wellbeing.

Meanwhile husband, Hal, originally from Northern Ireland and a retired head of HR, also helps to make the lives of bereaved people, whose loved ones have received our hospice care, a little easier. He volunteers in our bereavement support team and, like Helen, Hal has a calm demeanour, he’s a keen listener and his gentle Northern Irish brogue immediately makes you feel at ease in his company.

It’s a lovely hospice story.

They make such a difference to the hospice and our patient’s lives that we can safely say, they really are, The Real McCoy(s). 


Do you have the skills and a few hours to spare each week to become a Wirral Hospice complementary therapy volunteer? W’d love to hear from you! Please call 0151-334-2778 or email or visit