Remembering Mary Cushnie: 1929-2023

Mary, Ann and Acorns Patron Don MacLean at the opening of the Kings Heath shop in 1990.

Our incredible shop volunteer Mary Cushnie gave her all for Acorns for over 30 years.

In fact, Mary started fundraising for Acorns in the mid-80s, when even our first hospice had yet to open.

Mary’s story with Acorns begins at the nearby Cadbury’s factory in Bournville where she worked. Her friend and colleague Ann Cullinan planned to hold a jumble sale and Mary agreed to help.

Cadbury’s kindly offered to store the many items the fundraisers had collected for the sale and then one Saturday, they were given permission to hold the jumble in Cotteridge Gas Showroom on the high street.

It was the beginnings of a hugely successful fundraising movement known affectionately as ‘Ann’s Army’. They made nearly £1,000 on their first day – a fantastic sum of money for the time.

An incredibly committed volunteer throughout the years

Later, as the Gas Showroom was due to close, the owners offered the premises to Mary and Ann permanently to sell secondhand goods to the public.

The ladies then caught the attention of Acorns’ first CEO John Overton who had the idea of opening a shop to raise money for ‘children’, before even the name Acorns had been chosen.

The Cotteridge shop opened in 1986, two years before our first hospice on Oak Tree Lane and was the very first Acorns charity shop.

Mary has been an incredibly committed volunteer throughout the years, supporting both the Cotteridge and Kings Heath shops, before retiring in 2021.

In her own words, when reflecting on her service to Acorns, Mary said:

“I look on it that the children will not live to have a full or long life and I get huge pleasure from knowing that the effort I put into volunteering at the shops will help to benefit the children and their families.”

Find out how you can help Acorns be stronger together for local children and families by visiting our Stronger Together campaign.

For more information or for interview, photograph or filming opportunities, contact the PR and Communications team at

Notes to editors:

Due to the sensitive nature of Acorns care services it refrains from using the words ‘terminal’ or ‘terminally ill’ in its press releases and public communications when describing the children who use Acorns and the conditions that they have. Instead, Acorns uses the words ‘life limited’, ‘life limiting’, or ‘life threatening’. Acorns kindly requests that you respect this in your communications when referring to Acorns Children’s Hospice. Acorns children have a lot of living to do. Thank you.