Laurence Carr has been voluntarily managing the hospice’s antiques and collectibles eBay site since 2008, raising over £120,000 for patient care and services in that time!

The hospice’s retail sector – including four charity shops across the High Peak, and two online eBay sites – brings in almost half of the funding needed to keep care and services free for local patients, carers and their families. The NHS provides just 21% of the hospice’s resources.

Laurence has taken the time to write a blog about his most recent finds – and we hope to keep you regularly updated with details of amazing items that are kindly donated to our hospice shops.

Take it away Laurence…

Welcome to our Blythe House Hospicecare charity shop treasure hunter blog.

Over the last few years I have had the job of finding and selling collectable and valuable items donated to Blythe House Hospicecare. As a volunteer for the Hospice it has been a rewarding and extraordinarily interesting task to find hidden treasures amongst donated items, value them and sell them on online auction sites.

After discussions with the Hospice we have now decided to reveal more about how we find these items, discover what they are and what they might be worth. I hope the blog will be interesting and informative for our volunteers, staff, patients and anyone else with an interest in finding hidden treasures.

We have decided to pick out a few especially interesting items as we find them and talk in detail about how we find them, our research into their history and value and how we sell them.

Over the years we have raised over £120,000 for Blythe House Hospicecare through our treasure hunting activities so It’s been a significant source of income for the Hospice. It’s worth pointing out that although we do find a lot of treasures amongst donated items, I know for a fact that a lot slip through the net to our shops as well. Why not visit the shops and see what you might find! Feedback and comments are always welcome.

Some current items for sale on our eBay site include…


Recently donated to our Whaley Bridge shop amongst a box of various old items was a large old book with the title OLD PRINTS embossed in gold lettering on the front. Initial impressions were of a late Victorian binding. Quite a large if thin volume approximately 18” by 14” and about ½” thick. Inside I could find no introduction, title or other text but the book contained 30 bound prints all of a very similar type.

Unfortunately, there was signs of old water damage to quite a few of the prints. Although the book was now quite dry it had obviously suffered from damp at some point in its history.

Looking through the prints it soon became clear that they were good quality, old original prints on high quality paper. Old prints were made by pressing an inked engraved or etched stone, metal plate or wood engraving onto good quality paper. The process leaves an indentation on the margins of the image which can usually be clearly seen or felt with the fingers. These print marks were clearly present in our book of old prints. The prints themselves look much older than the Victorian binding so I had to assume that a selection of loose prints had been bound in a volume sometime around the 1890s.

On the bottom of most of the prints were two names, Matthäus Küfel and Lodovico Burnacini, which gave me enough information to start some research on the Internet.

Entering the names in Google quickly bought up quite a few references, most of which were for museum art collections including the V&A, British Museum, The New York MET , Harvard Art Museum and others. Looking at these references quickly established that Matthäus Küfel was actually Matthäus Küsel (The f in Kufel being the old way of spelling s). The prints were all Austrian and were pictures of theatre set designs from around 1670. Matthäus Küsel was the engraver of the prints and Lodovico Burnacini was the theatre set designer.

The Museum web pages quickly opened up a fascinating history of these prints. Some of the prints were from sets for an opera called “Il Pomo d’Oro” and the following Wikipedia entry gives more details:

“il pomo d’oro (The Golden Apple) is an opera in a prologue and five acts by the Italian composer Antonio Cesti with a libretto by Francesco Sbarra (1611-1668). It was first performed before the imperial court in a specially constructed open-air theatre Vienna in 1668. The work was so long it had to be staged over the course of two days: the Prologue, Acts One and Two were given on July 12; Acts Three, Four and Five on July 14. Originally planned to mark the wedding of the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I and Margaret Theresa of Spain in 1666, the production was rescheduled to mark the Empress’s 17th birthday in 1668. The staging was unprecedented for its magnificence (and expense). The designer Ludovico Ottavio Burnacini provided no fewer than 24 sets and there were plenty of opportunities for spectacular stage machinery, including shipwrecks and collapsing towers.”

Quite a few of the museum sites had pictures of the prints and the prints in our book were clearly the same prints as owned by the museums.

The above research indicated that we had a significant set of historical prints from around 1670 with significance to historians of the Austro-Hungarian empire, theatre and opera history. Unfortunately, the condition of the prints could only be described as fair due to the water damage. Despite this the prints are over 350 years old and of historical significance.

The next consideration was to try and establish what such a collection might be worth. With historical items like this it can be very difficult to establish value. First port of call was to search the internet to see if anyone else had sold or was selling similar items. This can be fraught with difficulty. My first reference was a book from 1670 which included 23 of our prints which was on offer in the USA for £22,000! Experience has however taught me to be extremely cautious of this sort of price as the price that someone asks for an item can be hugely different to the price someone is prepared to pay. Further research produced none of the prints being sold on their own so value was still a mystery.

The next step was an email to the auctioneer Bonhams. They took a look at photos of the prints and stated that they would probably be worth less than Bonhams minimum valuation of £800 for the book of 30 prints. They were not interested in putting them in one of their auctions.

In summary we now have a book of historically very interesting prints from the 1670s. Converting these into money for the Hospice is going to be difficult. Based on past experience we have a number of options open for selling these prints as follows:

Putting them up for auction on eBay: This might result in a very low sale price, although these prints are 350 years old, historically important and very rare they might not fetch a high value in an online auction as there are probably not that many people who whould have an interest in bidding on them.

Putting them up on eBay with a fixed price: A better option than the auction as we can afford to wait a few months for someone with a real interest in these prints to buy them. The problem is determining what fixed price we should attach to these prints!

Putting them up for auction at a local auction house: Might not get anywhere near their true value (whatever that is).

At the moment (mid November 2019) I haven’t decided how to proceed with this to get the best price for the hospice. Anyone have any ideas? Anyone have any offers to buy this.


A few weeks back one of our volunteers, handed me an old blue hardback book he thought might be of interest. As you can imagine we get hundreds of old hardback books donated and this one looked initially much like any other old book.

Opening it up to the title page began to increase its interest! It was “The Road To Wigan Pier” by George Orwell and was dated 1937. There was no other date in the book and it seemed possible it might be a first edition.

The Road to Wigan Pier is described by Wikipedia as follows:

The Road to Wigan Pier is a book by the English writer George Orwell, first published in 1937. The first half of this work documents his sociological investigations of the bleak living conditions among the working class in Lancashire and Yorkshire in the industrial north of England before World War II. The second half is a long essay on his middle-class upbringing, and the development of his political conscience, questioning British attitudes towards socialism. Orwell states plainly that he himself is in favour of socialism, but feels it necessary to point out reasons why many people who would benefit from socialism, and should logically support it, are in practice likely to be strong opponents.

Further research on the internet informed me that the first edition was published in 1937 by Victor Gollancz as a paperback for the “Left Book Club” approximately 47000 copies of this edition being printed. This didn’t match the book we had which was a hardback but also dated 1937.

Further research found that Gollancz had also produced a much smaller run of hardback copies at the same time as the “Left Book Club” edition for sale to the general public, known as trade editions. This print run amounted to only 2,150 copies and it seemed that the copy on our possession was one of these.

The next stop was to visit a local auction house for a valuation. My initial excitement was dashed when I was told that the book was in poor condition and probably wouldn’t realise more than £20 to £30 at auction.

After my initial disappointment I began to wonder if the auction house had mistaken my edition for the much more common Left Book Club edition. I had noticed previously that “Experts” can often make valuation mistakes so decided to do some more research.

I managed to find some other examples of this edition for sale on the Internet. And it seemed it was probably worth a lot more than the auctioneer’s valuation.

Eventually I decided to take a risk and auction it on eBay. I am happy to report it reached nearly £400 and was sold to a very pleased buyer.

My only regret is that our copy did not have the dust Jacket. I discovered that a copy of the same edition with its original dust jacket sold at auction for £3000 recently! Little things like this can make huge differences to the value of an item!


We often get boxes of old jewellery donated to our shops. I was looking through one such box recently at our Whaley Bridge Shop and came across two old gold coloured medals which were engraved with some small text.

Old medals and medallions are always interesting, and I took these two away for further study.

One medal was engraved with “Ferryhill & Dist LGE Winners of 2nd Div” and the other with “Wingate Charity Competition 1909 & 10”.

As usual my first stop was the internet but in this case I was unable to find out anything about these inscriptions. This is a bit unusual but there were no references to a Ferrygate and District League nor to a Wingate Charity Competition anywhere that I could find.

The reverse of both these medals was blank except for a small hallmark. The hallmarks showed that these medals were both 9K gold and dated from 1922 and 1909 .

The style of the medals and the inscriptions suggested that these were probably minor league football medals awarded to winners in the early part of the 20th century. It is perhaps surprising that solid gold medals would be awarded at local leagues but this was fairly common practice at the time.

The best way to sell these seemed to be Via eBay and we recently concluded a successful sale for a total of £170 for the two medals.

Visit our eBay site.

Emily Efstathiou came along to Blythe House for work experience in November 2019, during her two-year Business course at Buxton College.

The 18-year old has written a blog about her week with the hospice, including why she decided to undertake work experience here:

I had heard about Blythe House from people who had raised funds for the charity, and I also found out more about the hospice and the services it provides when my Nan was referred to the Living Well service.

Emily with her Mum and Nan

My Nan was diagnosed with leukaemia quite a few years ago and she was able to live her life to the full for as long as she could, but then a couple of years ago she was diagnosed with a terminal cancer, which only gave her up to a year to live. I can’t imagine how shocked you would feel when you are diagnosed with cancer, knowing that you don’t have long to live and you think “what’s the point of carrying on, when there is no point?” So my family arranged for my Nan to start coming to Blythe House, to get her out and for her to feel at ease as living with cancer is very hard and can leave you feeling very down.

I used to chat with her about what she had been doing when she had visited Blythe House, and she used to really enjoy it. The hospice brought out a different side to her; she was never the most artistic but when she visited on a Tuesday, she would sit in the art room and bring her artistic side out that I never thought she had. She also received a variety of therapies as well which made her feel nice and relaxed and would make her feel nice about herself, she would show me her nails that the volunteer beautician would do for her, and she loved it. It made her feel at home visiting the hospice every week as every single staff member and volunteer is so kind, and she made plenty of friends with the other patients.

Emily’s Nan during her treatment

Yes it is hard for someone to walk through the door; they think they are weak by asking for help or even joining any hospice groups but when my Nan did step through the door I know she will have felt that she wasn’t alone and that she could talk about how she felt living with cancer. Sadly, she died in 2017, but she made great memories by going to Blythe House and even my mum and I have since! We have been to a couple of the events that Blythe house have held such as the Sunflower Memories Appeal and the Light up a Life service, and I am hoping to attend many more.

I decided to ask to come here for my work experience because in my future career, I want to deal with people but I’m not sure in what field yet. So, I decided to try out Blythe House as it is an amazing charity and I wanted to see if I want to deal with people with short-term illnesses, or life limiting illnesses.

Whilst I’ve been here I have visited every section of the hospice including the Information and Support Centre; meeting the nurses, and the Volunteer and Support Services team; I’ve worked in the charity shop in Whaley Bridge, been introduced to the Hospice at Home team and so much more! I have done a wide variety of activities, for example helping out at the coffee morning; I went along to a Vision Buxton marketing meeting at the Pavilion Gardens with a member of the hospice’s communications team; as well working on reception and plenty more!

The thing I have enjoyed the most about being here is meeting so many new people including the staff, volunteers and the patients, and hearing about everyone’s lives and reasons for supporting the charity; it has been truly inspirational. Hearing what everyone does to help to make the organisation the best it can be, it is incredible!

In the future, I am hoping to finish my last year of my studies and achieve the best grade, and hopefully get a job or apprenticeship job that I really enjoy.

I would definitely recommend either volunteering or having your work experience at Blythe House because it really opens up your mind. You are faced with the reality of end of life care, or life with an illness, and it makes you realise for me personally, that you want to really help those people in need.

Find out more about volunteering at Blythe House.


Jasmyn Walton gives her time to support the hospice’s fundraising events like the Glow Twilight Walk, in roles including marshalling and registration of participants. After she got married in May 2019, Jasmyn and her husband Andrew also donated their beautiful wedding flowers to brighten up the hospice building for patients, staff and volunteers to enjoy.

The Hayfield resident said: ‘Having a bit of extra time on my hands since my husband started working shifts I was looking for a way to help others. My granddad suffered with throat cancer when I was younger, and I remember the invaluable help and support that we as a family received from his hospice, so volunteering at my local hospice appealed to me.

Elaine, a volunteer receptionist, with the flowers from Jasmyn and Andrew’s wedding

‘When I volunteered at Blythe House I went along with a few of my friends, which was great for the organisers as they had more helpers, but this also meant I spent time with my friends whilst contributing to the community. I also enjoyed the good feeling I got after volunteering at the Glow Walk – it was such a positive and successful event it made me feel great that I could be even a small part of it. There was a friendly, positive atmosphere throughout the whole evening at the Glow Walk. Everyone had smiles on their faces – before, during and after the walk! The laughter could be heard all over Buxton.

‘To other potential local volunteers, I would say either go alone or gather friends and family, and get in touch with Blythe House to see how you can help in anyway. The friendly Blythe House team will be very grateful for any time you can give them. You will feel great after helping others – I am already looking forward to volunteering at the next event with Blythe House!’

Interested in volunteering at Blythe House? We’d be very pleased to hear from you! Please call: 01298 815388 or email:

Jasmyn (middle) with fellow supporters at the Glow Walk


Blythe House Hospicecare is on the lookout for compassionate local people who would like to volunteer some of their time to help run services.

The hospice team is keen to hear from people who’d be interested in learning more about retail or transport volunteering roles:

  • Drivers provide transport to and from Blythe House for our patients to ensure they are able to access free care and services here at the hospice building.
  • Retail volunteers have varied roles including sorting, pricing and displaying donated stock, serving customers, and other aspects of the day-to-day running of the hospice’s four shops in the High Peak.
  • Online retail volunteers support the hospice’s two dedicated eBay sites, selling higher value or vintage items. Volunteers should have an interest in collectables, and be confident using a computer.

The hospice’s retail sector – including shops in Buxton, Chapel-en-le-Frith, New Mills and Whaley Bridge, and two online eBay sites – brings in almost half of the funding needed to keep care and services free for local patients, carers and their families. The NHS provides just 21% of the hospice’s resources.

Alistair Rogerson, Volunteer and Support Services Manager, said: ‘Our volunteers give hundreds of hours of their time per week to ensure the smooth running of Blythe House, and quite frankly, without them, the hospice would not exist. It was set up 30 years ago with a team of volunteers and it continues today with more than 200 passionate people who give their time for free.’

Pat Eckersley got involved with volunteering at Blythe House’s department store in Whaley Bridge in 2010. She commented: ‘What I’d say to potential new volunteers is to give it a try! It might seem nerve-wracking at first but just give a go, and hopefully you’ll love it as much as I do. This role helps me, and I know that I’m helping other people in return – it’s a two way street. There’s also a very good team of volunteers here, we’re like family, and we support each other through the bad times and have a laugh through the good times too.’

Find out more about the whole range of volunteering opportunities at Blythe House Hospicecare by:

Former nurse Liz Burns started to volunteer her time at Blythe House in August last year; she became one of the hospice’s first ever community volunteers, after undertaking training for the brand new programme that had launched earlier in 2018.

The Hope resident explains why she got involved: ‘I wanted to be of some service to my community, to have a sense of purpose and get some structure into my life having returned to the UK in November 2017, after being an ex-pat for the previous nine years.

‘Prior to that, I had worked for 34 years full-time in the NHS having graduated as a nurse in 1979. Since 1981, I had worked almost exclusively in cancer nursing in a variety of posts; clinically as a hospital-based Cancer and Palliative Care Specialist Nurse, and as a researcher and lecturer in cancer nursing. I took early retirement to accompany my husband when his job took him overseas.

‘Since returning to the UK full-time I had felt the need to be “of some use,” and had been looking at how I may achieve that. Being involved again on a one-to-one basis with people with palliative care needs, albeit in a non-nursing capacity, seemed an obvious fit. Blythe House is our local hospice and a friend of mine who works at the hospice posted the advert for the new community programme on her Facebook page – this inspired me to get in touch and the rest, as they say, is history!

‘Tasks I have been involved in so far include companionship: a general term, but this is a key part of every assignment – listening and being with the person. Sometimes this is as simple as just watching a favourite TV programme, chatting about it, and the inconsequentialities of everyday life. Sometimes listening to the person’s more complex and emotional concerns of how they are experiencing what is happening to them, as well as their worries and fears.

‘I have cooked meals for a family; taken patients grocery shopping and assisted them with wheelchairs in shops, driving and unpacking; collected prescriptions from the pharmacy, and undertook other small errands during my visits including going to the post office, making hot drinks, and writing addresses on envelopes for someone who had difficulty writing.

‘I have also helped with dog walking and gardening; for one patient cutting back overgrown areas, digging and weeding so that they could sit out and enjoy their garden. For another patient I have mowed lawns, weeded and cut hedges.

‘If you want to be of service to your community, enjoy being in the company of others and helping folk who are in a difficult place and could really do with a helping hand, then I would definitely recommend the community volunteer programme!’

Find out more and get involved.


Tom Craig has volunteered at Blythe House during his summer holidays from The University of Manchester, where he is studying a biomedical science degree.

The 22-year-old, who hails from Hayfield but lives in a shared house in Fallowfield, Manchester during term time, says it’s worth volunteering at Blythe House because ‘you can really feel like you are making a difference.’

Here, Tom explains more about his summer of volunteering…

‘I have finished my second year at university this summer, and in a couple of weeks I will start the third and final year of my degree. A lot of my degree involves learning about human biological processes, and how these processes can go wrong in various diseases. However, I have decided to apply to study Medicine as a graduate entry applicant, mainly because I really would like be able to have direct contact with patients, and hopefully be able to combine my interest for science and biology, in a role where being able to talk to and help people is so important.

‘As a volunteer at Blythe House, I have been talking to patients in the Living Well day-care service, in a befriending role; playing a part in trying to make sure that people feel welcome, and helping to serve refreshments. I have really enjoyed it, I have spoken to so many interesting people, and it has been an incredibly inspiring experience. I would definitely say that this was a highlight of my time in the hospice.

‘I have also had the opportunity to shadow the nurses in the hospice, which I am really grateful for. Because my degree at the moment is a science degree, instead of a healthcare, I have not been in a healthcare environment before, and it was really inspiring to be able to experience this. I have also been able to experience some of the complimentary therapies that are on offer in the hospice, and other components of the Living Well service, such as mindfulness and meditation, as well as art therapy, which is offered to patients.

‘I have also been able to spend some time in the information and support centre; there is such large a range of support on offer, and this was also really interesting and inspiring to be able to see the amount of dedication that is given to helping to improve people’s quality of life.

‘I would completely recommend Blythe House to anybody that is considering volunteering here. It has been a really good experience; if my university term was not starting soon I would have loved to stay for longer. It has made me realise that I definitely would like to work in healthcare in the future, but mainly it has been incredibly rewarding and satisfying to feel that you are hopefully making a small difference to somebody’s life. Just being somebody who a patient can talk to about some of the difficulties that they are facing, or simply a chat about a random topic, or helping to clean the teacups at the end of the day, it is worth volunteering here simply because you can really feel like you are making a difference.

‘I am really grateful for the opportunity to volunteer at the hospice, and hopefully I will be able to help out again at some point in the future. I can’t thank the staff and other volunteers enough for the opportunity.’

Find out more about volunteering at Blythe House.

Rachel Dennett got involved with Blythe House’s community volunteer programme in February 2019 because she wanted to give something back to the community.

The Glossop resident explained: ‘My father died last year. In his last few days he was cared for by the Shakespeare Hospice at Home team in Stratford. I saw what a massive difference these carers made to both him and the rest of the family. Their support made an awful situation more bearable.

‘I was in a position where my children needed me less, giving me some spare time. I wanted to give something back to the community.

‘Since I underwent the training, I have been able to provide companionship for a local patient, and respite care for their carer. I also support them in a number of practical ways such as ironing, changing beds, shopping, cooking meals along with being someone to talk, and sometimes cry, with.

‘This volunteering role gives me the chance to help others in a very rewarding way.
Although it is often sad, I leave after each visit with a sense of achievement; I am making the dreadful situation a bit more bearable for the patient and their husband and that makes me feel like I’m making a real difference.

‘It’s a really satisfying and interesting role and I’d thoroughly recommend it. The training sessions were really helpful and often entertaining too!’

Find out more about the community volunteer programme.

John Baker got involved with the hospice’s community volunteer programme in February 2019, after seeing an article in a local newspaper about Blythe House.

The Taddington resident explained: ‘Having been looking to volunteer “somewhere,” I read with growing interest a feature on Blythe House in the Buxton Advertiser that detailed the history, current status and aspirations for the future. I was intrigued…what could a retired sales manager possibly bring to a community volunteer programme at a hospice?

‘The answer and what actually inspires me is the opportunity to bring some “normality” into patient’s lives, and the lives of their family, by providing simple basic support, also the terrific “buzz” you get by the simple act of a helping hand.

‘I have been indirectly supporting a patient recently by ensuring her husband had some respite, taking him shopping and for a coffee and a cheeky cake for just two hours each week. I know it has been greatly appreciated by the whole family.

‘Simply listening and offering a different environment for a couple of hours can and does make a massive difference within a difficult situation.

‘To encourage other people like myself to become community volunteers, I would say: remember you’re helping people whilst they are enduring difficult times, which for me is a very fulfilling experience. Just give it a try; you may even surprise yourself.’

Find out more about the community volunteer programme.

Maggie started volunteering at Blythe House in 2005 as a housekeeper, but soon moved into a befriending role to welcome and chat to patients in the Living Well service, and offering support in their own homes.

Maggie also supported the counselling team with paperwork; ensuring systems were in place on both paper and the computer, to support busy caseloads.

The children’s counselling and bereavement services began in 2006 – the first one in the High Peak – and was one of the first of its kind in the country. Dave Oldham visited different areas of the country to present talks on children’s services at Blythe House, and Maggie continued to volunteer for two days per week alongside the counselling team.

In 2007, Blythe House secured Children in Need funding specifically for children’s counselling services, which ensured full-time jobs for two members of staff. Maggie explained: ‘I went back to be a befriender in the new and revamped ‘Living Well’ service in 2010. It had changed no end; it was such a positive place and its whole outlook had changed, it was amazing what Ann Cawthorn had created.

‘After this I joined the Information and Support team, volunteering alongside Living Well service lead Ann Burgoyne. I then eventually moved on to help Catherine in the art therapy area shortly before I had to give up my volunteer role due to an ongoing health issue in 2015.

‘I’ll always remember the reason I continued volunteering at Blythe House for 10 years, and it was when one patient said to me: “When I come to Blythe House, all the chains fall off.” I knew I was doing something worthwhile.’

Audrey Bramah has been involved with volunteering at, and supporting, Blythe House since its inception in 1989.

The Chinley resident says: ‘When Blythe House first started, there was a small office near the church in Chapel-en-le-Frith. I couldn’t volunteer full-time then as I owned a restaurant but I would sell raffle tickets and host coffee mornings to help raise funds. I always felt this affiliation with the iconic idea of High Peak having its own hospice, and I knew that it was something that I wanted to be involved with.

‘I retired around the same time that the very first Blythe House charity shop was opening in Buxton and so I started to volunteer my time there, and soon after, the New Mills shop opened and I helped there too. I have also given my time at both the Chapel-en-le-Frith store and at the start of the very successful Whaley Bridge department store.

‘Later, when I entered the hospice building itself, and felt the warmth and compassion within their walls, I knew that I had found my niche. After a stint in the kitchen helping Jill [Blythe House’s cook], and another few months at the Whaley Bridge shop, I returned to the hospice itself as a Living Well Service volunteer.

‘Everybody who comes to Blythe House whether it’s for counselling, therapy or treatment, has a unique sensation and feeling of comfort and belonging. The staff here are all professional and dedicated to the well-being and emotional needs for every patient. The people who are involved here, including staff and volunteers, are a reflection on how special the hospice is; the welcome found here is like a big, embracing hug!’