When we lose someone close, memories are more precious than ever. They help us feel connected, and cherishing them is an important part of celebrating a loved one’s life.

Creating a memory jar for your written memories and messages can be so helpful and that’s why we have our St Luke’s memory jars. They are available to everyone regardless of whether your loved one was cared for by our team.

Indoors, the jar can be a lovely ornament, while outside at night its glowing lamp can help lighten your thoughts and perhaps your spirits.

You can add to the jar over time and even get other members of the family to contribute, so that every generation can play their part in creating a wonderful keepsake. And if you bought a jar last year, you are welcome to buy a second.

We will display all the memory jars created this year in the peaceful surroundings of Plymouth Hoe Garden, which will be open to the public from 6 to 28 May, between 3 – 7pm Monday to Friday (up to 10pm on Thursday), and 12 – 4pm at weekends and bank holiday Mondays.

By day, the local community will be able to visit to see the keepsakes and pay their respects to those no longer with us. By night, the individual solar lights in the jars will illuminate them, shining brightly over Plymouth Sound.

Everyone who creates a jar is invited to a non-religious service to launch the display, at 3pm on 6 May. With heartfelt readings and poems, it’s an opportunity for remembrance and reflection.

Head of Social Care at St Luke’s Jutta Widlake said: “Every day at St Luke’s we are supporting people who have lost a loved one to a terminal illness. We know that it is always a very difficult time and that sometimes, grief can rob them of their memories of the person they’ve lost.

“We understand how important it is to remember your loved ones – memories are precious and powerful. We want to give people the opportunity to remember the good things and happy times by creating a memory jar they can add to over time. If they want to, they can invite family to contribute their memories too, so that every generation can be involved. The jar can be a talking point and might also lift their spirits.”

Supporters are encouraged to collect their jars from the garden on 30 or 31 May so that they can keep it and add to it over the years.

You can create your own memory jar to join the display at www.stlukes-hospice.org.uk/memoryjar

Bold, bright and a real delight – that’s Elmer’s Big Parade, coming to Plymouth in July 2019. Last month, we shared with you news about this exciting St Luke’s project with Wild in Art and Andersen Press, which will see 40 unique Elmer the Elephant sculptures form a colourful, enchanting and educational trail across our city next summer.

A key part of the project involves established and emerging local artists being invited to submit their designs for our Elmers so that each one is bespoke. It’s these sculptures that will be sponsored to raise money for St Luke’s and later auctioned for our charity.

However, the first Elmer is already complete and attracting much admiration! It’s the handiwork of highly successful local artist Brian Pollard whose ‘naive’ images including landmarks such as Smeaton’s Tower have achieved a global reputation.

When we spoke to Brian at the recent Elmer launch, he explained why he was delighted to be involved, saying: “I have supported St Luke’s previously by contributing Christmas card designs and so on, and it was a a great honour when the charity approached me about this project.”

Brian, who worked as a GP for many years, went on to describe the sometimes challenging process of painting a three-dimensional surface, after being so used to working with flat surfaces.

“It took around eight weeks to complete the painting of my Elmer, working five days a week,” Brian said. “And some areas are so difficult to get to that you have to break off the ends of the brushes to reach them. Also, using acrylic paint means some of the colours are quite thin – I gave the yellow flowers on the face and trunk nine coats. There was a lot of refining, but it was great fun – apart from the effect on my back and my knees!”

Local artists are being invited to submit their design ideas this June. To find out more, visit www.stlukes-hospice.org.uk/elmer.

Rock not only raised the roof but an amazing amount for St Luke’s at the recent annual live music extravaganza at Crash Manor in Plymouth.

The two-day event saw 20 bands, including Rusty Angels and Funky Munks, play for no fee, attracting a big crowd and resulting in £12,635 raised to help us continue caring for patients at the end of life – a record amount for Rockfest in the ten years it has been supporting our charity.

Cuz Cussen is the force behind Rockfest, which he started 17 years ago, fundraising for various charities close to his heart. It was following the death of his beloved mum Dot, in May 2008, that he decided to donate all the money raised each year to St Luke’s.

During the last few months of her life, Dot received our care and spent her last few days at the specialist unit at Turnchapel. Seeing first hand the dedication of our team meant St Luke’s gained a special place in Cuz’s heart, which has spurred him on to raise an incredible £90,000 for us.

Cuz said: “I’m blown away at how generously everyone has supported Rockfest, from the bands and the venue to the businesses who donated raffle prizes and everyone who came to the event. A huge thank you to everybody who has gone the extra mile, including my wife Lyn and close friends.”

Thank you so much to Cuz and everyone who helps make Rockfest the big success it is. We really appreciate your support!

Two ladies with treasured memories of loved ones will be among those getting their glow on to celebrate the life of someone special at our Neon Midnight Walk on 21 July.

Julie Barton will be striding the streets alongside friend Diana Powell. Julie was a long-serving member of the team at Toshiba and is joining fellow ‘Toshettes’, including Diana, for our charity walk.

Julie is putting on her trainers in memory of her sister-in-law Donna, who passed away aged 51 in 2016, and close friend Toni, who died last November, also aged 51. Both were cared for by our specialist team.

Julie said: “Toni and Donna were both such special people. Donna had such an engaging personality – she was loved by all who knew her. I will always remember Toni’s crazy humour and strength. Even the week before she died, she was determined to make it into town to buy herself some new clothes – and she did.”

Diana also has personal reasons for getting involved. She said: “My husband Tony was passionate about raising money for St Luke’s. In 2016 he did some cycling events for the charity, but unfortunately passed away a couple of weeks after that. This my attempt to continue raising money on his behalf.

“I first came across St Luke’s about 15 years ago when a friend’s father was in Turnchapel and I was actually quite stunned about the level of care and compassion. St Luke’s is a caring place and the whole of Plymouth knows that. We need to keep on raising that profile and keep getting the money through to them.”

The Neon Midnight Walk is sponsored by Nash & Co Solicitors. Registration is £22 and includes an exclusive neon t-shirt, as well as a medal and goody bag for all finishers.

If you’d like to register, you can sign up at www.stlukesmidnightwalk.co.uk

When a young child is facing the loss of a parent, it’s so important to communicate with them in a sensitive, age-appropriate way – it can make a big difference to the way they process what’s happening and come to terms with their loss in the longer term.

So it was wonderful when the Morrisons Foundation recently donated £20,000 towards St Luke’s Patches programme, which sees us come alongside families in this very difficult situation.

Having heard about Lisa Carter, our dedicated Patches Family and Children’s Support Worker (Patches being the cute Koi carp character who’s become a familiar face at our specialist unit at Turnchapel), the Foundation was moved to make a difference.

Since the Patches programme launched last November, Lisa has supported over 50 children, such is the demand for this service. She often uses arts and crafts activities to help open up conversation with the children, and the youngsters enjoy using the Patches activity book as well as following the Patches trail.

Angela Millin, Community Champion at Morrisons in Plymstock, said: “Having lost my own mother when I was a very young child, I know just how important this support is. To be able to help with our donation gives us a heart-warming feeling.”

When young children are facing the loss of a loved one, communicating with them in a sensitive, open and age-appropriate way can make a big difference to the way they process what’s happening and come to terms with their loss in the longer term.

That’s why St Luke’s, caring for more and more parents of young children, has launched a pilot to provide much needed support for these families. Lisa Carter is the dedicated Patches Family and Children’s Support Worker, Patches being the cute Koi carp character who’s fast becoming a familiar face at the specialist unit at Turnchapel.

Patches was created by St Luke’s talented Graphic Designer Jesse-James Cambridge with the help of illustrator Marie Arroyo to extend a  fin of friendship to children facing loss. As well as featuring in ‘Remember with Patches’, a pre-bereavement activity book and the play room, our fishy figure provides clues around the grounds of the specialist unit as part ofa fun trail.

On creating Patches, Jesse said: “Patches is a great tool for Lisa in her work, but also acts as a way for children to learn about St Luke’s and continue making memories at home. We decided to give the pilot a ‘mascot’ character at an early stage, and with a beautiful Koi pond at Turnchapel and being so close to the ocean, a fish seemed like the right choice. Children reading the book at home will be able to visit the real Patches when they arrive at Turnchapel – this familiarity should hopefully alleviate some of the fear they might have on their first visit.”

“The myth that fish have very short term memories gave the character a relatable motive to children who might not yet understand what a memory really is, as well as the importance of making memories with their loved ones.”

“In the interactive storybook, Patches learns how the people he loves are always with him in his memories. That’s a powerful message that children can relate to, and I hope it helps them come to terms with what’s happening to their loved one. This project was a real privilege to work on.”

Lisa – who was a Healthcare Assistant at St Luke’s for nine years before moving into this role – is using Patches as part of her work. She has been busy supporting over 50 children following the launch of the pilot in November 2017, with referrals coming through the Social Care team at St Luke’s.

Describing her work, Lisa said: “Every family’s situation is different so it’s really important that I work with them in a way that’s tailored to their specific needs. Sometimes that involves just a phonecall, sometimes much more hands-on support. I can also refer them to other agencies that can help.”

“I arrange to meet the parents or grandparents to talk through what’s happening and find out how they want to be supported, what their children are aware of and what they want them to know, before going on to meet the children either at home or at our specialist unit.”

Lisa’s focus is on supporting children through the trauma and explaining what’s happening in a way that’s appropriate to their age. Her background in healthcare is proving invaluable to this. “My experience helps me to describe things such as catheters and weightloss sensitively, which helps prepare children for the changes they’ll see as the health of their loved one deteriorates,” she said.

As part of her work in building a rapport with the children, Lisa often uses arts and crafts activities, such as making sun-catchers or painting moneyboxes. “This is something the children enjoy,” said Lisa. “And the distraction of creating something is an effective way of opening up difficult conversations with them.”

“While it is very sad that these children are facing something so difficult, it’s really encouraging to see the difference this support makes to them, being appropriately sad and grieving in a healthy way.”

To read the online story book, or access the free downloadable resources for children, visit the Remember with Patches page of our site.

The Patches project was made possible with the generous support of The Morrisons Foundation.