St Luke's nurse Anca pictured outside hospice

 

How the nurturing environment of St Luke’s, plus her own gentle strength and tenacity, have helped Anca thrive in her role at St Luke’s.

When you’ve arrived from overseas to live in another country and are still learning its language, you often rely on the non-verbal cues you pick up from those around you to help you adapt to the culture and your new surroundings. It is an experience Staff Nurse Anca Marasescu – who arrived in Plymouth from Romania in 2011 – has found helpful to draw on in her work caring for patients and supporting their relatives at our specialist unit at Turnchapel.

Anca, who lives in the city with her husband and twin daughters, said: “It is so important to be sensitive to how our patients and their families are feeling, which is about more than just listening to their words. Sometimes, the look in their eyes, or their posture, can tell me more about how they are feeling – and how they might want to receive my help – than what they say.

“I don’t see myself as special because as a team we all very attentive to them and their needs. We each bring our own unique perspective to our role at St Luke’s, and I think my experience of adapting to life and work in a foreign country, and not always being able to rely on words because the language was new, has become a strength and part of what makes me empathic in what I do. I never forget that our patients and their loved ones who visit them at Turnchapel are in an unfamiliar environment so need gentle support and extra reassurance.”

St Luke's nurse Anca holding a patients handWhen Anca joined our charity in 2017, she was new to hospice care but not to nursing itself, having worked first in a neo-natal unit in Romania, taking care of newborn babies needing intensive care, and then at Derriford, where she was a nurse looking after patients on Lynher Ward.

Anca said: “Though it wasn’t something I deliberately planned, my career has taken me from caring for new lives and then to nursing adults – usually those in middle age – to where I am now, giving care to people approaching the end of their lives.

“When I started working at Turnchapel I was out of my comfort zone and, with so much to learn about the specialist service St Luke’s provides it did feel daunting. As well as the support I got from my family, who are always telling me, “You can do it!”, what helped was the warm welcome I received and the consistent encouragement I’ve had from colleagues to always be myself while soaking up as much as I can. They know me and my ironic humour, and they’ve never wanted me to change or to lose my accent.”

Anca also cites the strong leadership the team has from Nicola Pereira, Head of Inpatient Nursing Services, and Sister Karen Thorrington as being key to her growth and development at St Luke’s.

“It doesn’t matter where I turn help is there, so I always feel well supported. Feedback from my manager Karen is really helpful, and when she described seeing my progress as just like watching a bud come into blossom, it really touched me to know that I am making a difference.

“As well as helping our patients feel as at ease as possible, just like the rest of the team I am always thinking of their relatives, too. Knowing that they will always remember how they felt when their loved one died, I reassure them that they did their best for that person. Giving them that comfort is really important because it helps them process what has happened and, over time, come to terms with such a significant loss. I think of my own family and how I would want them to be treated in that situation.”

“I’m really happy that in working with the St Luke’s team I have found somewhere that feels like home. We appreciate our similarities and also recognise that our differences are a strength and help us learn from each other. Regardless of how long they stay, everyone who chooses to work at the hospice is special.”

If you are interested in joining our team at St Luke’s, you can find out more and see our current vacancies here.

Aerial photograph of the South Hams

 

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 additional groups in the South Hams – maybe in Kingsbridge, Salcombe, Ivybridge or elsewhere. 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 my 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 both our events at Lower Combe Royal (Kingsbridge) and at Gnaton Hall (near Newton Ferrers); it was a little cloudy at Lukesland (Ivybridge) and at Sommerswood Lakes (South Brent), but this did not detract from the fabulous flora and scrumptious cakes. We are so grateful to the owners who open their beautiful gardens in aid of St Luke’s.

Our next Open Garden is at Bowringsleigh (Kingsbridge) on 5 September. Further information can be found at here. Here, you will see there’s also the opportunity to win an original painting by Brian Pollard.

A Compassionate Café was held 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 are grateful to the Lions Club of Ivybridge who invited us to run a stand at their annual Fun Day on 10 July. Thanks also to Martin French of the Totnes Hire Shop, who ran a stand: ‘Surf for St Luke’s’. The sun came out in the afternoon – as did the local crowds – and the event was a great success. On the Friday night the Wurzels played their ‘scrumpy and western’ gig, much enjoyed by the audience dressed in their hillbilly outfits.

The St Luke’s shops in Modbury and Ivybridge are getting back to normal, post-Covid. They have a terrific range of ‘pre-loved’ (and some new, factory-outlet) clothing and other bric-a-brac. They are normally open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 9am to 4pm, and can receive donations of goods on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, although this can be limited by a shortage of space.

There are many other events further afield, such as the Eddystone Lighthouse Challenge on 24 July. Eight 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.

Please contact Colin if you feel you might be able to help: 01752 492626/ cpincombe@stlukes-hospice.org.uk.

Making memories marcia's story. Marcia pictured with St Luke's nurse

We will always do whatever we can to support local families touched by terminal illness and this includes helping them make special memories.

That’s why, when we received a plea for help from Ryan Lidley, we sprang into action, determined to make sure his wedding to fiancée Naomi was a day to remember for his much-loved great auntie Marcia, whose cancer left her unable to attend the event she had been so looking forward to.

With Marcia receiving our care at her home in Keyham, Ryan sent us an email hoping we could show her how to use a laptop so she could watch the service from the comfort of her armchair. What he got in response went way beyond his expectations when we pulled out all the stops to do that and more besides!

 

 

With the ‘can do’ attitude typical of our team, we attended the service at Ridgeway Methodist Church so that we could live stream it, ensuring Marcia didn’t miss out on being part of the happy occasion. Dressed in her finery, she treasured every moment – including the wave from the vicar! We even laid on a spread of baked goodies for her to enjoy just as she would have done at the couple’s reception.

Marcia said: “I can’t put into words what it meant to me to see the service as it happened. It was wonderful! I sat for the rest of the day, thinking about it. It’s so important to be left with memories and that is what St Luke’s did for me. I am so grateful to have this charity in our city.”

St Luke’s Healthcare Assistant Lynn was there alongside Marcia to make sure she was feeling comfortable throughout. She said: “We knew Ryan and Naomi’s wedding was very, very important to Marcia so it was important to us, too. It gave me such a boost to know I was doing something to help.”

The last word goes to the groom, Ryan. He said: “My great auntie is such a lovely and loving lady. When we were talking about the fact that she wouldn’t be able to physically make it to the wedding, it was the first time I’d ever seen her cry. I made it my goal to come up with a solution, but never did I guess quite how much St Luke’s would go above and beyond. It made our big day all the more special and I’ll always remember their kindness.”

Tour de Moor logo over the top of a event participant

 

After putting on the brakes last year because of the pandemic, the region’s boldest charity cycling challenge is back for 2021, raising vital funds to support hospice care across Plymouth and surrounding areas.

The Tour de Moor biking challenge in aid of St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth returns to the rugged wilderness of Dartmoor on Sunday 10 October. Sponsored by Print Copy Scan, a local supplier of printers and copiers, the popular event offers cyclists 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 of 9 years and above can take it down a gear and saddle up for 30km 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.

Not only does Tour de Moor provide for every level of cycling ability, the money it raises means our highly skilled team can be there for more families affected by terminal illness, providing not just expert medical care but emotional, practical and spiritual support that makes an important difference to them at such a vulnerable time.

 

Since it began in 2010, the annual event has raised just under £800,000 for St Luke’s and the service we provide for patients at home, in hospital and at our specialist unit at Turnchapel.

Penny Hannah, Head of Fundraising at St Luke’s, said: “Tour de Moor is always a fantastic event and this year it will feel all the more special as we welcome cyclists back after last year’s cancellation due to COVID safety measures. It’s fitness and muddy fun, and with three classic 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 must never take it for granted. After a really tough year for everyone, the charity needs our support more than ever. We’re proud to sponsor Tour de Moor again this year. All the money raised by people participating goes directly to patient care across the community.”

The Tour de Moor challenge departs from 8.30am at Harrowbeer Airfield, near Yelverton, and finishes there.

Sign up for the challenge HERE or by calling 01752 492626. Registration costs £30 for the 52km or 30km route, and £15 for the 11km route.

Treasured memories of a big-hearted mum and grandmother are inspiring four females from the same Plymouth family to step out together in support of St Luke’s after we gave her such compassionate care at the end of her life.

Louise Pudner and her daughters Chloe, 25, Megan, 22, and Laura, 16, have all signed up to take part in this summer’s Midnight Walk, the annual mass-participation event raising vital funds for St Luke’s and the specialist service we provides for terminally ill people at home, in hospital and at our specialist unit at Turnchapel.

With the ladies’ walk making its comeback on Friday 20 August after it had to be cancelled last year because of the pandemic, the foursome is taking up the opportunity to stride the streets, paying tribute to Louise’s mother Mary Mannell, who was looked after at Turnchapel as she neared the end of her life.

Sadly, Mary died in 2011 but memories of the special person she was, and the huge love and affection she gave her four children, plus the 15 grandchildren born while she was alive, are cherished by her family.

Louise, who lives in Southway, said: “Mum was such a caring person and is sorely missed by us all. Growing up, she was always there for us and when her grandchildren came along she devoted herself to them, too.

“When she was ill it was a very difficult time, and our whole family is so grateful to St Luke’s for being there for her and us as well. It wasn’t just the excellent medical care they gave mum that made a difference, but the way they always accommodated our visits – day or night – making all of us, including the children, feel welcome and at ease.

“I’ll always remember spending precious time with mum in the gardens at Turnchapel, taking in the beautiful views over the water. That meant a lot to her because she and dad always loved the sea.”

Sponsored by GA Solicitors, Midnight Walk will see hundreds of women coming together to support St Luke’s. Just like Louise and her daughters, many will be going the distance in memory of lost loved ones, celebrating their lives while making new memories. All are welcome, regardless of whether we were involved in the care of your relative or friend.

The event starts and finishes at Plymouth Argyle’s Home Park Stadium, with ladies completing a 5, 10 or 15-mile route across the city.

Louise, who along with Chloe, Megan and Laura is taking on the 15-mile route, said: “Walking together is something we are really looking forward to. We’ll be remembering both mum and my dad, who sadly also died from cancer.

“It’s our way of saying thank-you to St Luke’s, not only for care given in the past but right now, too, looking after people who are special to our family. It’s a charity that touches so many lives and we must never take it for granted.”

Registration for Midnight Walk costs £22, which includes the cost of your tee-shirt as well as a medal and goodie bag for all completers. Click here for more information and to sign up.

If you would like to sponsor the Pudner ladies, please visit their Just Giving page.

Inspired by memories of her beautiful mother who was cared for so compassionately by St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth, our charity’s very own Finance Director is set to take a million steps to raise vital funds that will help other local families affected by terminal illness.

Sue Cannon, who joined the senior leadership team at the hospice just over three years ago, is taking on the walking challenge with her sister, Carol Giles. Starting on 1 July, they’ll be clocking up at least 11,000 steps each a day to make sure they reach their target of a million steps each by 30 September.

The sponsorship they raise along the way will go towards the specialist care and support St Luke’s provides 365 days a year for patients at home, in hospital and at our specialist unit at Turnchapel.

Sue and Carol’s mother Christine was looked after by the hospice team at home and at Turnchapel before sadly, she died in 2002.

Sue said: “I’ve had the privilege of working at St Luke’s for over three years now and in my role I see first hand how the efforts of all our supporters help pay for the care our charity gives free of charge to those who need it. I decided it was time to do my bit!

“For Carol and me, taking on this walking challenge is also a way of saying thank you to St Luke’s for being a beacon of light for our family. Our dear mum died far too young at just 55. It was an incredibly difficult time, but the team was so kind, helping dad and us to deal with some of the day-to-day challenges you don’t expect. The practical support and advice we received in addition to the specialist care they gave mum at home and at Turnchapel made such a difference.

“I am especially proud that as well as Finance, Facilities and IT, I am also responsible for the Catering department at the hospice, as this brings back really special memories – the simple joy that our mum got from hearing the tinkle of the drinks trolley and the wonderful home-cooked food she enjoyed.

“Thank you, St Luke’s, for caring for our mum with such warmth and compassion…. Let the steps begin!”

Sue is aiming to raise £1,000 to provide a full package of care, emotional support and practical advice for a family at home – see here.