Tour de Moor Blog Header

Tour de Moor Blog HeaderCyclists unite for St Luke’s Tour de Moor

Community-spirited cyclists braved the wilds of Dartmoor at the weekend, raising much-needed funds to support local hospice care that makes an important difference to families affected by terminal illness.

After putting on the brakes last year because of the pandemic, the Tour de Moor biking challenge in aid of St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth made its return on Sunday 10 October, attracting more than 1,400 participants, which exceeds the total in 2019. The popular, annual family-friendly event, sponsored by Print Copy Scan, a local supplier of printers and copiers, saw cyclists take on their choice of an adrenalin-packed, hill-filled, 52km mixed terrain route; a tough 30km ride over hills and through woods, or a more gentle 11km ride along the tarmac paths of Drake’s Trail.

Not only does Tour de Moor provide for every level of cycling ability, the money it raises means our highly skilled teams can be there for more families, providing expert medical care as well as vital emotional, practical and spiritual support.

Among the cyclists taking on the mud, sweat and gears of this year’s Tour de Moor were those doing so in memory of their lost loved ones.

One of the brave 945 people doing the demanding 52km route, in which cyclists tackle the notorious Widowmaker hill not once but twice, was Lydia from Peverell, participating in tribute to her much-loved nanny, Margot. St Luke’s looked after Margot at home eight years ago before sadly, she died.

“It feels important to give back to St Luke’s.”

Tackling Tour de Moor with brother Conor and friends, Lydia said: “This is the first time I’ve done the event and although I’ve been down the Widowmaker before, I have never been up it! It’s a tough challenge but it feels important to give back to St Luke’s because they were just so wonderful in the way they looked after Nanny, making her comfortable at home.

“She was an amazing lady and so very caring. Losing her hit me really hard and I’m grateful that St Luke’s were there for me, too, with a listening ear when I needed support.”

Also doing the 52km route for the first time was Lesley, from St Budeaux. She said: “I wanted to join in because of the difference St Luke’s made when my Auntie Lena needed their care back in 2007. It is very peaceful at Turnchapel, and she was looked after with such compassion – nothing was ever too much trouble.

“I miss my auntie a lot. She was an incredibly positive person, including throughout her illness, and always thinking of others. Tour de Moor is my way of saying thank-you to the hospice team for caring for her so well.”

“I can’t speak highly enough of St Luke’s.”

Making Tour de Moor a family affair was Ian, from Plympton, taking part in the 30km challenge with son Oliver, aged 9. The duo was doing the event in memory of Ian’s aunt, Gill, who died of cancer last year. She was looked after by St Luke’s at home before she passed away.

Ian said: “As a former Wren, my auntie had that military spirit and was very bubbly and outgoing. It comforts me that she was able to accomplish the things on her bucket list before she died, and also that she received the very best of care from St Luke’s.

“Oliver remembers her fondly too, so doing Tour de Moor together is very special. He can’t wait to take on the extra tough 52km in a few years’ time! It’s good to know that the money we raise will help more local families affected by cancer and other terminal illnesses. I can’t speak highly enough of St Luke’s and the important work they do.”

“What an amazing day!”

St Luke’s Events Lead Georgina Mayhew said: “What an amazing day! Tour de Moor is always a fantastic event but this year felt all the more special as we welcomed cyclists back after last year’s cancellation due to COVID safety measures.

“Our charity relies on the kindness of our community to help us continue looking after local people so they can live well to the end of their lives. Our cyclists did us proud and we are very grateful to them for getting on their bikes for us. Thanks to them, we can be there for more people who need us, ensuring they get the best possible care and support at the end of their lives.

“We’re already excited to be planning Tour de Moor 2022 because it is set to be one of the highlights of St Luke’s 40th anniversary year!”

We would like to thank Print Copy Scan for their ongoing sponsorship of the annual event, as well as recognise the kindness of Dartmoor National Park and Maristow Estate for the use of their land, Dartmoor Rescue Group, Devon and Cornwall 4×4 Response and Devon and Cornwall Cycle Marshals for their valued support, and the Dewerstone Café for help with facilities.

On any one day, we looks after around 300 people with life-limiting conditions at home – where the majority of patients receive their care – in hospital and at our specialist unit at Turnchapel. Our service covers from Salcombe to East Cornwall via Tavistock and the moors.

Hospice Care Week 2021

Acceptance and understanding bring light to couple in their darkest time

“It was a safe place during a dark time. Somewhere we could be ourselves and spend precious time together.”

When someone is nearing the end of their life, it matters more than ever that they should be with those dearest to them, but – as revealed by research carried out by the Care Quality Commission* – for some LGBTQ+ people with terminal illness the reality is that they encounter discrimination and lack of understanding at a time when they most need acceptance and support. This Hospice Care Week (4 – 8 October), a Plymouth man is sharing his story to demonstrate what high-calibre hospice care looks like when you are part of a gay couple, and the important difference it makes.

When retail manager Pete Richards met accountant Richard Shaw in 2012, their instant connection saw the two quickly become inseparable, moving in together, enjoying holidays in far-flung destinations and relishing time spent with friends and family, including their two young nephews, aged 6 and 4.

The couple’s active lifestyle included regular walks along the coast and in the countryside, plus daily visits to the gym for health-conscious Richard, who Pete describes as ‘the perfect gentleman – always impeccably turned out’.

Then, at Easter 2019, came devastating news that changed everything, when tests revealed that Richard aged 36 had a brain tumour. A gruelling regime of medical treatment followed, including chemotherapy, but could not halt the growth of the tumour and eventually, Richard made the difficult decision not to undergo further treatment.

Pete said: “Our focus was on making things easier, ensuring he was comfortable and being able to enjoy the time we had left together – that’s why getting him into St Luke’s specialist unit at Turnchapel made sense. Not only are the doctors and nurses experts in end of life care, it’s local so it was really easy for me and our family and friends to visit. Rich was such a sociable person and he loved having us all around him.

“It was such a relief to find that the hospice was not at all like the dark place I’d been expecting. There was a feeling of great warmth, and Rich had a lovely big room with spectacular views of the Hoe.

“What really meant so much to us both was that we didn’t have to hide our sexuality. Even though this is the 21st century, I was anxious I might have to pretend to be Richard’s friend instead of his partner, but we were immediately accepted as a couple and received nothing but kindness and support from everyone at St Luke’s. I could lie next to Richard and cuddle him without worrying what anyone was thinking.”

Importantly, too, Turnchapel was a place Richard and Pete felt comfortable for their nephews Charlie and Matthew to visit – not only because of the playroom full of toys and the space for them to run around but because through our Patches scheme, providing bespoke, age-appropriate support for young children facing the loss of someone close. Our Family and Children’s Support Worker Lisa was there to involve the boys in fun activities as well as gently preparing them for the changes they would see in their uncle.

Pete said: “Rich adored watching the boys play and just seeing them be happy, and Lisa was amazing all the way through. She helped Charlie and Matthew process what was happening, and even after Rich died she visited them at home.

“The other staff were really kind, too, wheeling Rich’s bed into the garden on sunny days and making us cups of tea. One nurse in particular, Anca, stood out to me. She would give Rich these hand massages that would put him to sleep. Little touches like that made such a difference.

“Rich was at St Luke’s about four weeks and I’m forever grateful that when he died it was with the people he loved most in the world around him. We were all there, holding his hands.

“Losing my partner, who was such a lovely, lovely guy, has been heart-breaking, but everything St Luke’s did for us made that final chapter a little bit easier. From day one, Rich and I were welcomed, loved and respected by the team just as much as anyone else and that compassion never wavered. They were even there in the church for Rich’s funeral, supporting us.

“Everybody, regardless of background or circumstances, deserves to die with dignity surrounded by those they love and that’s why I feel I owe St Luke’s a debt for helping Rich, me and our family, bringing light to us in our darkest time.”

Want to ensure more families can access our care?

Show your support for nurses like Anca and Lisa by sponsoring a St Luke’s nurse or join Pete in taking on challenges in aid of St Luke’s. Thank you!

*A Different Ending: Addressing Inequalities in End of Life Care 2016

Other useful documents, Hospice UK Equality in hospice and end of life care: challenges and change