Joy Clarke, a well loved member of the Retail team based at Plympton, is retiring at the end of November after eight and half years’ dedicated service.

Joy returned to live in Plymouth from Torquay following the death of her partner. Keen to work and with good knowledge of St Luke’s gained through fundraising via a local Lion’s Club, she soon proved herself a great asset, working on everything from logistics to sorting through bric-a-brac donations.

Particularly enjoying the research involved, Joy quickly developed something of an eye for spotting ‘buried treasure’ among the piles of donated items and selecting those most likely to fetch a good price at auction. In her first year, sales from the auctions soared from £800 to £12,000 and gradually Joy’s hours increased until she became full time.

“It’s always felt as though I was a good fit for working here,” said Joy, whose varied background includes tailoring, working for a hi-fi business, driving a fork-lift truck for a lubricants company and some time with beauty brand Clinique. “I’ve seen my role evolve and have loved being part of the team, the happy atmosphere and working alongside our fantastic volunteers. My heart and mind has always been St Luke’s.”

A particular high point for Joy was seeing the Retail team hit its £1million profit target last year. The incredible team spirit is just one of the reasons she has not found it an easy decision to retire, but she plans to retain links by volunteering in our shops and continuing the fundraise for
St Luke’s. Joy wants to combine this with spending more time with family. In fact, supporting charities is in the blood, with Joy’s grand-daughter recently having her long tresses cut for the Little Princess Trust, which provides real hair wigs to children who have lost their hair through illness, and donating her sponsorship to
St Luke’s.

“I will miss being part of the team full time,” said Joy, who also plans to spend more time on craft projects. “But I will be a very willing volunteer – I definitely won’t be a stranger!”

We wish Joy much happiness in her retirement.

Central to the compassionate care we provide, St Luke’s nurses are precious. Sponsoring them makes a real difference to patients’ lives, but did you know this invaluable support comes from businesses and other organisations as well as from individuals?

Plymouth Argyle Football Club has put its best foot forward to provide sponsorship for just this cause, and sent some of its players to the specialist unit recently to see for themselves the outstanding care provided by our team.

During their visit, the football players met the nurses and had a tour around the building. They also heard how staff work with patients and families to create lasting positive memories.

“It’s a truly amazing place, there is no detail that goes uncovered” said one of the team. “One thing that really stands out is the amount of care that goes into this place. “My expectation was that it might be kind of morbid but in actual fact it could not be further from that, I think it’s inspirational, not just what the nurses do, but also the doctors and volunteers. One volunteer told me that if she ever needed this sort of assistance she would have no qualms about coming here. That says a lot about the place it really is a brilliant job that they do here, the care that goes into the patients is completely evident.

For young people it’s so easy to turn a blind eye to things like this, being poorly isn’t something that you would like to think about. But there is so much good work that goes on here and if ever we had loved ones coming here, they would certainly see for themselves what a good positive place this is.

This is a place that you must see for yourself to really appreciate how much good work goes on. If anyone had any misconception about St Luke’s, then coming here would let them see how amazing it is.

It has completely changed my perceptions and I have only been here an hour. It’s really clear how important it is to the nurses, how much it means to them. Clearly, it is more than just a job.”

“Plymouth Argyle’s support means so much to us,” says nurse Teresa Bickle, part of the nursing team. “Footballers are role models for children and teenagers and we hope that through their engagement with them the club can help us bust myths around death, dying and hospices. Encouraging the younger age group feel more comfortable around these subjects and telling them about our work will help ensure St Luke’s can continue providing crucial end of life care for generations to come.”

Interested in joining the Sponsor a Nurse program, or want to know more about the work of our nurses? Visit our sponsor a nurse page here.

St Luke’s is much more than just hands on care, our compassionate staff go that extra mile to create lasting memories for our patients.

When specialist unit sister Karen noticed a photo by the side of a patient’s bed it prompted a conversation that led to something extraordinary. The photo was of the patient as a young girl, walking along Salcombe beach.

“If I could do anything before I die, it would be to have one last walk along the beach – but I know it’s just not possible” said the patient. Knowing how much this meant to the patient, sister Karen knew she had to do something.

A few emails and conversations later, staff were rallying across all sites to make this dream a reality. The warehouse team sent across beach related items; nurses visited Mountbatten beach to collect sand and water; and word soon spread to the local garden centre in Endsleigh who also came up trumps with props to assist.

In just 48 hours, The View (previously known as the conservatory) in Turnchapel was transformed into an indoor beach of epic proportions.

“As soon as the patient saw what we had created, she cried.” said sister Karen. “She took off her slippers and put her feet in the sand, paddled in the sea water and rubbed the seaweed between her toes. Being able to touch, feel and smell the beach meant so much to her and brought back her childhood memories. It was just the patient and I in the room, and I felt so privileged to be part of this moment. It was something I will never forget.”

Karen added, “This really captures what hospice care is all about, creating memories and trying our very best to make dreams a reality. It also demonstrates just what an amazing team we have here at St Luke’s and the compassion they have to offer. There was so many departments outside the wards uniting to make this possible, so thank you to everyone involved.”

Weddings, a final boat trip, a visit from a horse, virtual reality diving and now a visit to the beach have all been made possible by our caring staff in the last 12 months alone. No matter the ask, we will always rise to the challenge and create lasting memories for our patients and their families that will last forever.

To mark the end of Hospice Care Week, it was mud, sweat and gears this weekend as over a thousand intrepid cyclists came together to pit themselves against the wilds of Dartmoor for the St Luke’s Tour de Moor cycling challenge, generously sponsored by Print Copy Scan.

On Sunday 15 October the annual off road bike challenge – a complete sell-out – raised an estimated £80,000 thanks to the 1,300 participants who took on the off-road 11km, 23km or 52km routes from Harrowbeer Airfield, Yelverton.

For many it wasn’t just about a fun muddy challenge across Dartmoor, but a chance to remember a loved one and witness first hand how far St Luke’s care reaches beyond Plymouth. Rebecca Kelly, Events Fundraiser for St Luke’s, said: “With almost half of our care taking place at home, the bikers will have travelled through some of the most remote Dartmoor villages and experienced the challenges our nurses face every day to provide this care at home, day or night and in every type of weather imaginable”. It is this care that drives people to get out of bed at 6am on a misty Sunday morning, hop on a bike and do their bit for charity.

Riding in memory of Dad, Edward was Dave Noble from Eggbuckland: “Dad had a sudden onset of dementia and was admitted to St Luke’s at Turnchapel. The care and compassion the doctors and nurses gave to him in his final weeks was outstanding. Taking part today is my way of saying thank you to St Luke’s and raising a bit of cash to helping others who may need the support from this incredible charity in years to come.”

Chris Putt from Elburton also riding the 52km in memory of his mum Peggy said,: “Without the help of St Luke’s I don’t know how we would have coped. Supporting the charity is so important because it does such fantastic work.”

“Hats off, or should I say helmets to all the marshals and volunteers who gave up their Sunday to help out. The 52km was quite tricky in places and very hard going up past the scout hut to Princetown, but best of all plenty of mud a puddles!” said Lindsey Lee Pritchard from Honicknowle.

Di Foster added, “My first year and wow! The toughest most challenging thing I’ve ever had to do. Will I be back next year, you bet I will be – I had far too much fun.”

It was a family outing for Matt Kelley and his son Toby (aged 11) from Modbury. “This is for Dad, a firefighter at Plymstock who we really miss. He would often volunteer for St Luke’s and in his final days he received such great care from the hospice.”

Rebecca Kelly, Events Fundraiser for St Luke’s, added: “What an amazing day! We’re so grateful to all who braved the course. Our riders have pledged enough to look after 80 families at home in the year ahead and that’s a fantastic achievement for everyone involved. They did us proud!”

St Luke’s would like to thank local firm Print Copy Scan for their sponsorship of this year’s event, as well as recognising the kindness of the Maristow Estate and Buckland Abbey for the use of their land, the Devon and Cornwall Rescue Team and St John’s Ambulance for their vital support and the Plume of Feathers pub for help with facilities.

St Luke’s provides care for people dealing with life-limiting illnesses everywhere from Salcombe to East Cornwall, via Tavistock and the moors, supporting families as much as patients. The charity supports around 3,500 people and their families each year, vital services which it needs to raise over £4 million to provide.

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Skydive for St Luke's Hospice Plymouth!