This is your chance to explore the exciting and historic Drake’s Island, set in the beautiful surroundings of Plymouth Sound. We’ve also received word that recently discovered secrets have been revealed.

During it’s fascinating history, the Island – which was born out of the sea 400 million years ago – has been a place of pilgrimage, a refuge, a fort, a prison and an observatory, while local people of a certain age are most likely to remember it as an adventure centre in the 1960s and 70s.

With the site being out of bounds to the general public since 1989, it is a place many long to visit so they can discover its secrets and learn about its past. Those lucky enough to snap up one of the places to visit the historic location will get the opportunity to do just that as they get the lowdown from the Island’s Warden, avid historian Bob King, who will lead the tour.

Bob said: “The best part of my job is researching the history of the Island and sharing it with as many people as possible. Although the fortifications and how they have been used and defended Plymouth over the centuries is fascinating, what brings the history alive are the personal stories of the people on the Island.

“I am really excited to have the chance to take people in Drake’s footsteps and help them discover the Island and its past.”

This promises to be a fascinating journey into Drake’s Island’s story through the ages. The trip includes:

  • Boat journey to and from the Island.
  • Guided tour of Drake’s Island, by an experienced historian.
  • Opportunity to explore the labyrinth of hidden underground tunnels.
  • Exquisite photo opportunities.
  • Wildlife engagement: Seals, herons and egrets are regularly spotted from the island, so keep your eyes peeled!
  • Unique views of Plymouth and Cornwall.

This adventure could make a memorable gift to someone, or simply a very special way to raise funds for St Luke’s. All ticket sales will go directly to St Luke’s (except a small booking fee, which you will be asked to cover on registration).

Click here to book your tickets.

Colin Pincombe, St Luke’s Impact Volunteer Partner in the South Hams, rounds up the news on what’s been happening across the area to support our charity’s compassionate care in the community.

“Our volunteers are gradually mobilising after the lockdown. Recently, the Friends in Modbury held a most successful stand at the Modbury Fair, selling clothes, accessories and raffle tickets to raise almost £500. This is a really sociable and supportive group, and it is a pleasure to be associated with them.

“My dream is to form one or two similar groups elsewhere in the South Hams – maybe in Kingsbridge, Salcombe or Ivybridge. Membership can lead to lasting friendships, while supporting an essential local healthcare charity. Do get in touch with me if you might be able to help – please see contact details below.

“With the easing of some lockdown restrictions, St Luke’s Open Gardens scheme has been able to proceed. In the South Hams the weather was glorious for our events at Lower Combe Royal (Kingsbridge) and Gnaton Hall (near Newton Ferrers); it was a little cloudy at Lukesland (Ivybridge), but this did not detract from the fabulous flora and scrumptious cakes.

“Future Open Gardens are at Lower Combe Royal (Kingsbridge) on 20 June and Sommerswood Lakes (South Brent) on 11 July. More will follow, and further information can be found here. Here you will see there’s also the opportunity to win an original painting by Brian Pollard. We are so grateful to the owners who open their beautiful gardens in aid of St Luke’s.

“A Compassionate Café was opened in Kingsbridge in mid-June. This enables anyone who is looking after someone who is dying, has been bereaved or is living with a life-limiting illness to talk to someone with a sympathetic ear. Where needed, more specialised services can be signposted to provide specific advice. Do come along to the Compassionate Café for tea, coffee and a chat, every second and fourth Saturday, 10.30am – 12.30pm, at Harbour House Café, Kingsbridge. Please contact the café organiser, Linda Christian, on 07517 019131 in advance to say that you wish to attend or for more information.

“We have been chosen to be sponsored by the Lions Club of Ivybridge and to run a stand at their annual Fun Day on 10 July at the Rugby Club, Cross-in-Hand, Filham, Ivybridge. Please visit us there or, better still, put on your straw hats and come to enjoy The Wurzels on 9 July from 7pm. Booking and further information can be found here.

“There are many other events further afield, such as the Eddystone Lighthouse Challenge. Nine boats have entered in aid of St Luke’s, all from the Plymouth area, so I’m looking for an entry to represent the South Hams. See Sail for St Luke’s for details.

“Do contact me if you feel you might be able to help – 01752 492626 / cpincombe@stlukes-hospice.org.uk.”

For three little girls whose father died from cancer last year, their teddy bears will always be incredibly special because – at the press of a paw – they can hear Daddy’s voice reminding them of his enduring love and affection.

When 37-year-old surfing instructor Russ French from Loddiswell (South Hams, Devon) was in his last days of life at Turnchapel, where our team looked after him, he recorded the heart-warming messages his wife Ginny says have since brought great comfort to the couple’s daughters, Effy, 9, and Aria, 4, just as they will to 1-year-old Indi, who was just a few months old when sadly, Russ died.

 

Ginny said: “Russ was always the most happy, chilled-out person but when his condition deteriorated quickly and he needed hospice care, it was a very anxious time for us. When you’re both in your 30s, it is not something you expect to be facing and it felt very daunting. This was all in the midst of the pandemic, too, which made things even harder.

“It really helped that the team was so warm and welcoming. Most people know about the fantastic medical care St Luke’s provides but what stood out to me was the way they showed great kindness to us as a family. It was Lisa, one of St Luke’s Family and Children’s Support Workers, who suggested that Russ record the teddy messages for the girls. She was there for us back in 2019, when she gently helped to prepare the girls for the changes they would see in Russ, and she has been such a source of reassurance for them – and me – ever since.

“For the wider team, too, nothing was ever too much trouble. I remember how they bought fish and chips for Russ as they knew it was his favourite, and they made sure he could get out into the gardens to see the sun setting.

“They did all this despite the challenges they were facing providing care while adhering to all the COVID safety measures. Russ was given a side room with private access so that I could visit and he could watch Effy and Aria run around and play with the sandboxes just outside his window. He was always such a loving, hands-on dad and I know how much that meant to him.

“This being our second Father’s Day without Russ, we’ll take it as it comes and I’ll be led by the girls. I expect we’ll be on the beach at Bigbury, where we had so many happy times with him. And whenever they want to hear Daddy’s voice, the teddies will always be there for Effy, Aria and Indi as a reminder of that very special bond.”

Our heartfelt thanks to Ginny and all Russ’s family and friends for the fantastic fundraising they have done for St Luke’s in memory of such a special man. They’ve raised over £19,000, for which we are so grateful.

If you’d like to remember a special dad by supporting St Luke’s, take a look at our in memory giving options here.

When there’s been a bereavement in the family and you also have caring responsibilities, it’s a lot to manage and can feel very tough at any age.

With today being the start of national Carers Week (7 – 13 June), we’re sharing 19-year-old Aaron’s story to raise awareness of caring and highlight some of the challenges carers face, as well as the important difference a friendly, listening ear can make during a really difficult time.

City College accountancy student Aaron was close to his grandfather Brian, who was looked after at home by our community team before sadly, he died last year. While living with such a sad loss, Aaron and his mum, Sarah, are also sharing the care of Aaron’s grandmother, Jill, who lives close to them in Eggbuckland.

Aaron said: “My grandad was an upbeat person and always busy, and it was very hard seeing his health suddenly decline within a short space of time. We all miss him so much, but it does comfort us that he got his wish of being at home when he died because St Luke’s were able to come in and look after him there.

“It’s been particularly tough on my gran because they were married for over 60 years and now she lives by herself. I know she looks forward to the visits she gets from mum and me, and because her health isn’t good – which affects her mobility – we share the responsibility of looking after her. It’s a bit of everything really, from shopping to fixing things around the house. It’s getting harder for my mum though because she herself has arthritis and finds it difficult to move, so I’ve been taking on more.

“We manage as well as we can but it can feel stressful, particularly when I need to study for my exams, and sometimes it’s hard not having any siblings to share the responsibilities with. It can feel quite isolating. I find that what helps is the bereavement support I’m getting from St Luke’s. Due to the pandemic, this has been over the phone and it’s been reassuring to know I can talk about how I’m feeling to someone who understands.

“I also like making art – in fact, it’s a bit of a stress-reliever for me. What’s nice, too, is that my gran used to be arty so she takes a real interest in what I do. Although she’s too shaky to draw now, she’s always keen to see my latest work and that really means a lot to me.”

The theme for this year’s Carers Week is making caring more visible and valued, highlighting the vital role carers play in our communities and draw attention to just how important caring is. To find out more, click here.

If you are a carer for someone who is a patient of St Luke’s, our team is here to help you through emotional support and practical advice.

St luke's fundraiser Jill sat in a garden

While for many of us, it’s a piece of equipment that goes unused – simply gathering dust despite our best intentions – a Plymouth grandmother living with Parkinson’s disease has used the power of pedalling her exercise bike to raise much-needed funds for St Luke’s.

When she heard about our Landmark Challenge, Jill Baragwanath, aged 77, wasted no time in signing up to take part in our Covid-safe fundraising event in memory of her beloved husband, Gerald, who was cared for by our team at Turnchapel 13 years ago before, sadly, he died.

For Jill, who lives in Pomphlett, it was not only an opportunity to say another thank-you to St Luke’s for looking after such a special man with the utmost compassion, but a chance to keep up her fitness level while the gym she usually attends remained closed under lockdown restrictions.

Cycling a total of over 20 miles on the exercise bike in her bedroom, Jill – who has two daughters and two grandchildren – raised a fantastic £300 in sponsorship to help keep the wheels of our specialist service turning.

Jill, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s last year, said: “Gerald and I were married for more than 45 years and he was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather – a real family man with a zest for life. He was really sociable and loved snooker and gardening.

“It was very hard when he became ill with cancer, but what made it that bit easier to bear was knowing he was receiving such superb care from St Luke’s. Every time I spent the day with him at Turnchapel, which is so peaceful, I left feeling reassured that he was comfortable and in a safe place because everyone there was so kind and nothing was ever too much trouble.

“I do whatever I can to support the charity because none of us must ever take its service for granted. I’ve taken part in the ladies’ Midnight Walk and I donate items to the shops. The Landmark Challenge was an opportunity to do something different while keeping as fit as possible, which is an important part of managing my condition.

“Memories of Gerald and all the happy times we had together helped me to keep on pedalling, knowing I was doing something positive to help other local families affected by terminal illness.”

From all of us at St Luke’s, a big thank you to Jill and everyone else who took part in our Landmark Challenge – and to all those who kindly sponsored them, too!