Trek the Great Wall of China for St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth and you’ll not only experience an iconic bucket list destination, you’ll help us support families so they can make precious memories together when time is running short.
People now have an extra reason to visit Plymouth Garden Centre at Crownhill and it’s one that’s set to grow our retail income!
“I’m retiring from the shop soon and it’s a wonderful feeling to know it’s now up and running and that the wonderful team mean it’s in such safe hands.”
The kitchen is often referred to as the heart of the home and at our specialist unit at Turnchapel, there’s no less thought and attention given to the nutritious meals and tasty snacks prepared for our patients nearing end of life. At breakfast and throughout the day, they enjoy everything from smoked salmon to freshly baked croissants.
The talent and tireless work of Catering Manager Lesley Henderson and her team – two cooks, six catering assistants, plus four ‘bank’ assistants and 30-plus big-hearted volunteers – is all part of our charity’s mission to help people live well to the end of their lives, focussing on what matters to them and making them as comfortable as possible.
But members of this busy team are not permanently confined to the kitchen in the basement – for some of them, their role includes seeing our patients on the ward on a daily basis. Every morning, they make their visit to chat to those in our care about that day’s menu, taking on board any special requests. And, if the food they really want that day is not on the menu, it’s not a problem. Lesley makes it a priority to ensure their wishes are met wherever possible, jumping in her car if necessary to visit the local supermarket.
Lesley first joined St Luke’s nearly 20 years ago as a catering assistant, having worked at the then Seaton Barracks military base in the city. She said: “From a full cooked breakfast to a three-course lunch, our patients enjoy our freshly prepared soups and meals every day.
“We put a lot of thought into our menus and we listen to their wishes – we will always try to give them whatever they want. We also work closely with our nurses so we’re up to speed on any allergies or intolerances patients might have, or whether their food needs to be liquidised to help them digest it. If it does, we still ensure it’s served up to look like a meal rather than one ‘drink’. Presentation matters.
“It’s crucial that we help make their last days comfortable as well as memorable for the right reasons. It’s also important for the families because naturally they want to see their loved ones eating well and enjoying their food.”
Lesley gets satisfaction knowing she and her colleagues have done all they can to enhance people’s experience at the unit.
She said: “What we do goes way beyond sourcing ingredients and preparing, cooking and serving food. We’ll help in any way we can and some of our most rewarding times have been decorating gazebos for weddings and baking cakes for special anniversaries.
“I’m proud to manage such a dedicated team that’s sometimes a bit of a ‘hidden army’ because they’re busily working away in the kitchen. They are a big-hearted bunch and often want to help even when they’re officially off duty, as they did at the recent barbecue we put on for the fireworks.
“We might not have as much face-to-face contact with patients as our nurses, but we know what we do makes a big contribution to the quality of St Luke’s service and it’s always appreciated when we hear how – by adding those thoughtful, special touches – we have brought a smile to a patient or their wife or grandson.
“It’s a difference we all feel privileged to make.”
Of course, the Catering Team are also the hardworking folk ensuring staff at the specialist unit are a well-fed workforce, who can enjoy delicious home-style meals to give them energy for a shift, or a tasty snack from the busy Driftwood Café, where the generously sized scones are now legendary! So famous, in fact, that members of the local ambulance crew are often seen popping in just to pick one up!
As well as thanking the Catering Team for all they do for St Luke’s we’ll close with a final word from Lesley. Any particularly memorable moments from the (almost) two decades she has given to St Luke’s?
She said: “The Tanner brothers once came here to cook for our patients as a special treat and wouldn’t leave without my recipes for vegetable cake and millionaire’s shortcake, so that was lovely!
“But what I treasure most is the laughter here – there’s sadness, of course, because it’s such a difficult time for families, but there are so many lighter moments, too, because St Luke’s is uplifting and we all support each other and enjoy what we do.”
If you want to get involved with this talented team, you can find out about volunteering opportunities here.
Cyclists of all ages are getting set for one of Devon’s boldest and most popular charity challenges this autumn, the Tour de Moor.
The annual event – now in its tenth year – takes place on Sunday 13 October, raising funds to help us continue our specialist end of life care for terminally ill people, helping them to live well to the end.
Sponsored by Print Copy Scan, a local supplier of printers and copiers, the challenge in the rugged wilds of Dartmoor offers cyclists the opportunity of an adrenalin-packed adventure: the hill-filled 52km mixed terrain route of mud, sweat and gears. Cycling at its fiercest for those aged 12 and above!
Alternatively, participants aged 9 and above can take it down a gear and saddle up for 23km of tough riding over hills and through woods, and there’s also the ‘mini moor’, a gentle 11km ride along the tarmac paths of Drake’s Trail that’s suitable for all the family.
As well as Tour de Moor providing for every level of cycling ability, the money it raises means our highly skilled team can give not just expert medical care but also emotional, practical and spiritual support to families at the most vulnerable of times, whether their loved one is being cared for at home, in hospital or at our specialist unit at Turnchapel.
Head of Fundraising, Penny Hannah, said: “Tour de Moor is always a terrific day. It’s fitness and muddy fun, and with three routes to choose from, it’s ideal for both families as well as more experienced cyclists who really want to push themselves.
“Taking on the challenge is a great opportunity to get on your bike and help us provide vital care and support to patients and their families across the local area, making every hill climb worth that extra effort!”
Director of Print Copy Scan, Karl Welburn, said, “The calibre of the care St Luke’s provides is second to none, but we mustn’t take it for granted because none of us know when we might need it. As the only specialist end of life care provider in this area, the charity needs continued support and that’s why we’re proud to sponsor Tour de Moor again this year. All the money raised by people participating goes directly to patient care.”
The Tour de Moor challenge departs from 8.30am at Harrowbeer Airfield, near Yelverton, and finishes there.
Sign up for the challenge at www.stlukes-hospice.org.uk/tourdemoor or by calling us on 01752 492626. Registration costs £30 for the 52km or 23km route, and £15 for the 11km route.
“My reaction was, good gracious! I just couldn’t take it in.”
When Ron Williams picked up the phone, he wasn’t expecting to hear he’d won top prize in our weekly lottery – so he was completely bowled over with the news that he had in fact scooped the £10,000 rollover!
For big-hearted Ron, playing our lottery year on year is all about backing the vital service we provide rather than winning, knowing it helps local families at the most challenging of times. Now, his unexpected windfall has been a wonderful surprise and, as he says, ‘out of this world’!
Compassion is at the heart of the service that we provide at St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth. This is no different for our newly appointed Community Network Co-ordinator, Robyn Newport. For more than six months, Robyn has been out and about in the town, getting to know local business owners, voluntary groups and healthcare services to get more insight into what matters to them when it comes to living with terminal illness, looking after someone with it, and dealing with loss.
These conversations have helped shape the Compassionate End of Life Care Community that’s now established in the town, which – being in a rural area – is all the more needed since residents can find it harder to access services of all kinds, including the expert care that’s so vital when your time is running short.
Robyn said: “We are committed to coming alongside the communities we serve to realise the potential of informal networks and develop more effective ways to provide compassionate carer support and choice for people at end of life, so they can die in familiar surroundings with those they love.
“It’s a real privilege getting to know so many people, and it’s clear there’s so much care and compassion within Kingsbridge and the surrounding area. We now have 72 Compassionate Friends across the town – these are people who lend a helping hand or friendly ear to friends and neighbours who have a life limiting illness or are affected by loss.
“Our Compassionate Friends have spoken openly and honestly, helping to break down the taboos around death, dying and bereavement, and bust the unhelpful myths that surround them. They’ve thought about how they can have more compassionate conversations within their own circles and have seen first-hand how listening and doing small things to help people at times of crisis or loss can make such a huge difference.”
Robyn is also encouraging more local people to get in touch. She said: “I’m keen to hear from those who caring for someone or have lost someone close to them. Those who might be needing extra support and would perhaps like someone to talk to.”
You can contact Robyn by e-mail or by phone on 01752 964250.
Looking to the next six months, Robyn is aiming to increase the number of Compassionate Friends, Champions and Co-ordinators in the area. She’s also looking forward to working with primary and secondary schools and local hospital teams to realise the potential of informal networks, developing more effective ways to provide compassionate support that helps ensure no-one in need feels isolated or overlooked.
Collaborating with our partners, other healthcare professionals, and our staff and volunteers has enabled us to set out a strategy to help us meet the significant challenges facing us as a charity. We are proud of the progress we have made over the last five years and that really is down to our hard-working, dedicated staff and volunteers and the continued backing of the community. There has been unwavering support for our organisation and we hope that the next five years will see the same level of incredible engagement.
To read our strategy for 2019-24, please click here.