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!