Gathering together for the city’s most popular ladies’ night out, St Luke’s Midnight Walk, more than 1,300 women pounded the pavements on 20 July, raising funds for the specialist end of life care we provide for people at home, in hospital and at our specialist unit at Turnchapel.

Stepping back in time and getting into the groove for this year’s fun 80s theme, the ladies shimmied in shoulder-pads and lunged in Lycra and legwarmers, setting off from the city centre on a 13, eight or three-mile route. Having loads of fun with friends and making it a night to remember, many were there celebrating the lives of lost loved ones and cherishing precious memories as they made new ones.

Along the way, the ladies continued to wholeheartedly embrace the 80s theme, with hair crimping, themed make-up and selfie stops against the backdrop of an 80s teenager’s bedroom.

Among those taking part in the event was Louise Dinham from Whitleigh.

She said: “Taking part in Midnight Walk is my way of thanking St Luke’s for the amazing way they looked after Dad so he could be at home, where he wanted to be. It’s a charity that really needs our support so they can be there for other families, too”

Medal in hand, and with an overwhelming sense of achievement, many of the participants then went on to dance the night away to a host of 80s anthems at Popworld in the city centre, where the after party took place.

Head of Fundraising at St Luke’s, Penny Hannah, said: “From the dedications on the backs of all the tee-shirts it was clear to see the positive impact St Luke’s has had on so many local families in need at a time of crisis.

“We are hoping this year’s event will raise in the region of £165,000, as it did last year, enough to provide a complete package of care at home for 165 families, not just in Plymouth, but in South Hams and Dartmoor, too.

“I want to thank not only the ladies for taking part, but the people who made the event possible. That includes our army of amazing volunteers, our sponsors Nash & Co Solicitors, PL1 Events and the many other businesses and organisations who got behind us, as well as my fantastic St Luke’s colleagues for all their hard work in making it such a big success.”

Since Midnight Walk first began in 2007, the event has raised over £2m for St Luke’s care, powered by a caring community who have walked a total 233,677 miles for the charity they keep close to their heart.

Finally, after months of anticipation and with excitement filling the room, came the big reveal!

At a special launch event earlier this month at Herd HQ, the curtain was lifted on the mammoth mob of enchanting elephant sculptures ready for Elmer’s Big Parade, which is raising awareness and funds for St Luke’s this summer.

Among those gathered to get their eyes on our colourful gentle giants were the talented artists who’ve worked their magic to create the captivating array of bespoke designs, the big-hearted organisations who’ve got behind our charity by sponsoring the sculptures, and other St Luke’s supporters from across the city.

The event was an opportunity to get a preview of both the 40 elephants in the Parade – now live at landmark locations across Plymouth – plus the 25 mini Elmers painted by local schools, where 10,000 students have had fun learning about and creating art and where the St Luke’s team has come alongside staff to build their confidence and skills to enhance support for bereaved children. (The mini mob will be on display at Mount Edgecumbe until the Parade closes on 16 September.)

Special guest was the creative genius behind the much-loved Elmer storybooks, David McKee, who was born and educated in Plymouth.

He said: “I’m 84 now, so I’ve seen the way hospices help families. To find out there’s such a high percentage of children who know bereavement through the loss of someone close, and that St Luke’s is very involved in helping the children get through those periods, it’s incredible.

“It’s quite emotional really, knowing that something you started that long ago is not only still around, but new things from others have been made because of that. I suppose in a way, there is a sort of responsibility which you feel. Especially when you realise that it’s not just decorative – the cause is such a good one. Helping St Luke’s in any way is a good cause.”

With the Parade now live, our city is busy with people out on foot, discovering the sculptures, interacting with the app and social media and learning more about St Luke’s and our help for terminally ill people and their families.

Being Devon’s biggest art event of the year, the Parade is expected to attract 200,000 visitors, including many people who live outside Plymouth, giving the local economy a big boost and showcasing our stunning coastal location.

Steve Statham, Chief Executive of St Luke’s, said: “We couldn’t be more excited to see everyone get out and about across our city’s iconic locations to follow the herd.

“Along the way, they’ll learn more about the outstanding care and support St Luke’s provides for patients at home, in hospital and at our specialist unit at Turnchapel.

“To everyone who has put in the hours and gone the extra mile to make this fantastic summer extravaganza happen, I want to say a huge thank you. It would not have been possible without our hardworking staff and volunteers, as well as our sponsors and the companies who have given in kind. I feel very proud to be part of such an incredibly caring community.”

The grand finale of Elmer’s Big Parade will be the auction at which the sculptures will be going, going, gone to raise funds for St Luke’s, so be sure to see the herd before then.

The official trail map is available to download via the App Store, Google Play or available in print at St Luke’s charity shops and at Tourist Information.

Find out more at www.elmerplymouth.co.uk or follow the trail on social media: @ElmerPlymouth #ElmerPlymouth.

Our much-loved nurses were on hand for the launch of the new-look St Luke’s furniture store in Launceston at the beginning of this month.

The opening followed the closure of our outlet in the centre of the town back in February, with the new location on Hursdon Road carefully chosen by our charity so the furniture shop benefits from being opposite the busy retail park that includes popular names such as M&S Food and Costa Coffee, as well as free parking for customers.

Ours is the only second-hand furniture shop of this size in Launceston, offering quality preloved furniture including sofas and refurbished white goods. Also available are brand new mattresses, plus donated clothes, toys and bric-a-brac, at very reasonable prices.

Cash raised from sales at the shop will go towards the £7.8 million St Luke’s needs to raise to provide free-of-charge end of life care and support to families across the area. Last year, around 16% of St Luke’s care was delivered to patients in East Cornwall, with our team looking after many of them at home.

Shop Manager Karen Missen said: “We’re proud to be back in Launceston at this great location, alongside our other Cornish charity shops in Callington and Saltash.”

“After having my children, I worked for the NHS as a maternity healthcare assistant, then a shop manager, training manager and area manager in charity retail. I also spent much of the last decade as full-time carer for my parents. Sadly, they are no longer here, but after St Luke’s looked after mum in her last few weeks I know they would be so pleased to know I am working for such an amazing organisation. I feel privileged and excited to head the brilliant Launceston team.”

St Luke’s Head of Retail, Mike Picken, said: “It’s great to be back in this corner of Cornwall and we’re looking forward to welcoming customers old and new to this more accessible location.

“We offer a free-of-charge, seven-days-a-week furniture collection service and we’ll stretch every penny we raise to offer brilliant care to people in our local communities.”

If you or anyone you know would like to arrange for St Luke’s to collect large items of furniture, please call 01752 964455 (Mon – Fri, 8.30am – 5pm).

Across Derriford Hospital are St Luke’s specialist doctors, nurses, therapists and social workers who work alongside the hospital staff, using their expertise in end of life care and support to make a difference to terminally ill patients across every ward in their last weeks and days of life.

This dedicated team – which looks after 26% of all St Luke’s patients – is celebrating a prestigious regional award that’s all the more special because the nomination came from the very people who benefit from the compassionate care the team gives, our patients. The accolade – the Special Category Silver Award – has been bestowed upon the team in the Outstanding Care Awards for Devon and Cornwall, which are organised by the Care Network Group.

Each year, the awards celebrate those working in the care sector, from the emergency services to catering teams, highlighting the huge contribution of those who consistently go beyond the call of duty and to whom we all owe such a debt a gratitude.

The ‘Special Category’ recognises those who’ve made the biggest overall impact on the sector. The nomination for our team stated that St Luke’s is a service ‘Plymouth cannot live without’, emphasising how each hospital patient is treated with ‘the utmost respect from start to finish’ and how the team’s sensitivity and attention to detail gives families a ‘real sense of ease’ when their loved one is being looked after.

Martin Thomas, Head of the Hospital team at St Luke’s, said: “Our work is demanding and the pressure can often feel relentless, but we love what we do and feel very privileged to be there for people at such a challenging time, listening to what matters to them, preserving their dignity and making them as comfortable as possible.

“To know that those we care for have gone out of their way to nominate our close-knit team for this award means so much to us.”

George Lillie, St Luke’s Clinical Director and Deputy Chief Executive, said: “Our partnership with Derriford Hospital means that across the wards patients with life-limiting conditions can receive high-quality co-ordinated care and support at end of life. St Luke’s presence there is about more than expert hands-on medical care, it’s support and reassurance for patients and their families, too.

“Martin and the rest of the team are so deserving of this award and we couldn’t be more proud of them.”

A big-hearted powerhouse of a fundraiser, a selfless, long-serving volunteer and a woman who has helped countless families emotionally and practically during their toughest times were celebrated at last night’s Plymouth Community Awards 2019 – and St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth was the link between them!

The annual awards, which note the achievements of those who go above and beyond to help those in need across our city, recognised three of our ambassadors and we couldn’t be prouder!

Cuz Cusson, who lives in Mutley, was presented with a Special Recognition award in honour of his tireless fundraising for our charity. He’s the founder of Rockfest, the popular annual live music extravaganza that is well established in Plymouth and has now raised an incredible £100,000-plus for us in memory of Cuz’s much-missed mum Dot, who received our care.

Jeannie Norris, who is in her 80s, received a Lifetime Achievement award celebrating her amazing volunteering history with St Luke’s. She has exceeded three decades of giving her time and skills unpaid to help our charity shops provide a welcoming and helpful service for bargain hunters. And she’s still going strong there, with the energy and enthusiasm that comes from her passion for seeing our vital service continue.

Recently retired Janet Hearl, also received a Lifetime Achievement Award because for more than ten years, she went above and beyond in her work as our Bereavement Support Worker. She was celebrated for the immeasurable difference she made, coming alongside patients and their loved ones with understanding, empathy and solid practical advice at their times of greatest need.

Huge congratulations from us to all three – we couldn’t wish for better ambassadors and we hope you had a wonderful day.

A homegrown hero of the storytelling world, who has ignited the imagination of millions worldwide with his bestselling children’s books featuring fiction’s favourite elephant, is returning to Plymouth for a very special event!

Plymouth born David McKee, celebrated author and illustrator of the much-loved Elmer storybooks – which have sold a staggering 10m copies around the globe – is in the city for the 30th anniversary of his first Andersen Press Elmer publication and he’s set to launch Elmer’s Big Parade, Devon and Cornwall’s biggest art event of 2019, on Monday 8 July.

The Parade, an enchanting trail of 40 unique elephant sculptures lovingly painted by established and emerging artists, including internationally renowned Brian Pollard, will spread a smile across Plymouth and surroundings for ten weeks until 16 September.

The free, family-friendly event – a collaboration between St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth, Wild in Art and Andersen Press – is expected to attract 250 thousand visitors to Plymouth and surroundings, as well as encouraging local people to get outside to discover each member of the mammoth mob, taking them to places they may not have been to before. Along the way, it is expected to bring a huge boost to the local economy, benefiting businesses from shops to restaurants.

These are no ordinary elephants – they’re on an important mission to raise awareness and funds for St Luke’s and the vital service the charity provides, looking after terminally ill patients and supporting their families when time is running short.

Each of the sculptures is sponsored by a local organisation, including businesses of all sizes, with headline sponsor for the event being Stagecoach South West, the region’s leading bus operator.

The much-anticipated Parade is the culmination of months of preparation as the 40 artists selected to paint an ‘Elmer’ worked their magic, some of them based at Herd HQ within St Luke’s pop-up shop selling quality second-hand furniture at the former Toys R Us store at Western Approach, where they have welcomed visitors keen to get a sneaky peek before the big reveal of the finished masterpieces.

A key part the Parade is the educational programme that has engaged 10,000 students across 25 local schools, generously funded by the Thomas Cook Children’s Charity.

Not only has the St Luke’s Education team encouraged the schools to have tonnes of fun learning more about art and creating their own unique mini Elmer, all of which will be on display at Mount Edgecumbe, they’ve come alongside school staff to enhance their confidence and skills in supporting children living with loss.

It’s estimated that 1 in 29 children – one is every class – has experienced the death of someone close to them, so St Luke’s is working with teachers and other staff to encourage more open conversations with youngsters about death, dying and bereavement, which – when conducted sensitively in an age-appropriate way – help ensure no child feels left behind.

Elmer’s Big Parade Plymouth officially launched early this week at a special preview evening, where all 65 Elmer’s were gathered together under one roof for a big reveal to sponsors and artists. Alongside local artists including Brian Pollard was a very special guest – David McKee.

Elmer creator David McKee, grew up in Tavistock and was educated in Plymouth he said: “The pleasure that you can feel that the illustrators and painters have had working with this, there’s a real excitement to be had with this project, which is incredible.

“I’m 84 now, so I’ve seen the way hospices help families. The hospice isn’t just a building that people go to – while it is a big part of it, an even bigger part is all the work which is done in the actual homes of the people who are suffering. A lot of people would prefer to stay in their own home, and St Luke’s helps them to do that.

“To find out there’s such a high percentage of children who know bereavement through the loss of someone close, and that St Luke’s is very involved in helping the children get through those periods, it’s incredible.

“It’s quite emotional really, knowing that something you started that long ago is not only still around, but new things from others have been made because of that. I suppose in a way, there is a sort of responsibility which you feel. Especially when you realise that it’s not just decorative – the cause is such a good one. Helping St Luke’s in any way is a good cause.”

On meeting David, local artist and St Luke’s patron Brian Pollard said, “It was such an honour to meet and talk to the famous creator of Elmer, David McKee. David was delighted to see his creation come to life with the wonderful creativity of mainly local artists. I was surprised to hear that he had also visited a local gallery to view my paintings and he went on to make some positive remarks about my artwork.

“I think I can speak for all the artists when I say we are all honoured and delighted to be involved in such a wonderful fundraising project, for a charity that is so close to all our hearts.” Brian’s Elmer will be on display outside the Theatre Royal Plymouth.

For many of the artists, the trail has a real personal connection. Local artist Colin Pethick’s involvement was a chance to support St Luke’s and at the same time pay tribute to his wonderful wife Zheng, for whom the charity cared for before she passed away he said: “It was so inspiring to see all the Elmers together, truly mind boggling how so many fantastic ideas have formulated from one form, good old Elmer. To meet David was such an honour. I was moved greatly by the smaller Elmer’s also and the participation of the school children. It is so important to me as an artist that we inspire and encourage the young creative minds and also through that process educate on the notion of bereavement. That for me was why I was so pleased to be invited to take part in the project. It was such a valid form of cathartic release for me personally. Thank you again St Luke’s for everything.” You can see Colin’s Elmer titled “The Beauty of Transcience” displayed on Plymouth Hoe.

St Luke’s Chief Executive, Steve Statham, said: “The wait is over and it’s time for the grand reveal of Elmer’s Big Parade! We couldn’t be more excited to see everyone get out and about across our city’s iconic locations to follow the herd.

“The Parade is going to be a real delight for people of all ages as they explore on foot and interact with the social media side, too. Along the way, they’ll learn more about the outstanding care and support St Luke’s provides for patients at home, in hospital and at our specialist unit at Turnchapel.

“We believe everyone deserves to live well to the end, and it’s only thanks to the kindness of our community that we can sustain our service, being there to make a difference and helping families through the most challenging of times.

“The support of local businesses is a critical part of this, and the way they’ve got behind Elmer’s Big Parade as sponsors is heart-warming. There’s still time for more to be part of one of the city’s biggest events and get their brand in a prominent position seen by thousands – a great opportunity to raise their profile while doing good.

“To everyone who has put in the hours and gone the extra mile to make this fantastic summer extravaganza happen, I want to say a huge thank you. It would not have been possible without our hardworking staff and volunteers, as well as our sponsors and the companies who have given in kind. I feel very proud to be part of such an incredibly caring community.”

Bob Dennison, Managing Director of Stagecoach South West, the headline sponsor of the trail, said: “We are thrilled to be Presenting Partner and supporting such a wonderful charity. We will be working to help raise awareness of Elmer’s Big Parade Plymouth and the incredible work done by St Luke’s, and of course help raise vital funds. We work to support a range of local community causes in the South West, the very communities we help bring together through our local bus services. It’s fantastic to see the excitement about the trail already starting to build and we are delighted to be backing such a fabulous and worthwhile fundraising campaign.”

The grand finale of Elmer’s Big Parade will be the auction at which the Elmer sculptures will be going, going, gone to raise funds for St Luke’s.

The official trail map is available to download via the App Store, Google Play or available in print at local tourist information and St Luke’s charity shops.

For more information about the Parade and how you can get involved, visit: www.elmerplymouth.co.uk or follow the trail on social media @ElmerPlymouth #ElmerPlymouth.

The much-loved St Luke’s at home nurses opened the hospice’s new look Launceston furniture store on Monday 1 July.

The former St Luke’s outlet in the centre of Launceston closed back in February and the hard-working local charity has been looking for new premises ever since. The new shop on Hurdon Road, opposite the busy retail park with M&S Food, Costa Coffee and B&M, offers easy access, parking and a great deal for your money.

This will be the only second-hand furniture shop of this size in Launceston, offering great quality furniture, sofas and refurbished white goods. Also on offer are brand new mattresses, donated clothes, toys, and bric-a-brac at very reasonable prices.

Cash raised from running the store will go towards the over £7 million St Luke’s needs to raise to provide free-or-charge end of life care to families across the area. Around 16% of St Luke’s care last year was delivered to patients in East Cornwall, many at home.

St Luke’s shop manager Karen Millan said, “When you shop with us, you really do make a difference to local people. We’re proud to be back in Launceston at this great location, alongside our other Cornish charity shops in Callington and Saltash.”

Karen explains, “After having my children, I worked for the NHS as a maternity healthcare assistant, then a shop manager, training manager and area manager in charity retail. I also spent much of the last decade as full-time carer for my parents. Sadly, they are no longer here, but after St Luke’s worked with my Mum in her last few weeks I know they would be so pleased to know I am working for such an amazing organisation. I feel privileged and excited to head the brilliant Launceston team.”

St Luke’s Head of Retail, Mike Picken said, “It’s great to be back in this corner of Cornwall and we’re looking forward to welcoming customers old and new with this move to a more accessible location. We can’t do this without the support of the community though. Please consider us when you have household goods to donate – we offer a free-of-charge collection service and we’ll stretch every penny we raise to offer brilliant care to people in our local communities.” St Luke’s has over 30 charity shops across Plymouth, South East Cornwall and West Devon. Last year donations to St Luke’s charity shops generated over £1million of the £10 million cash needed to provide support to families at home or in the St Luke’s unit at Turnchapel. Sale items and other donations can be taken at any of the St Luke’s stores, please call ahead on 01752 964455 to organise large drop-offs or collections.