Known as ‘the stuff of legends’, the Marathon des Sables is the toughest foot race on Earth.

So we have been blown away by the awe-inspiring achievements of two friends who have shown true grit (and then some!) by completing this most gruelling of challenges to support us, raising a fantastic £8,000 – and still counting.

Their personal reasons for getting behind our charity enabled Jamie Shewbrook and Jonathan Gliddon, who live in Plymouth, to muster the huge mental and physical strength needed to endure the multi-stage, mixed terrain race, which covers over 156 miles in the harshest of environments – the Sahara Desert.

Jonathan’s decision to support St Luke’s took on extra significance for him when his cousin Richard was admitted to our specialist unit at Turnchapel just before the race. Knowing time was running short for Richard, and that he was receiving our compassionate care, enabled Jonathan to dig extra deep and overcome chronic back pain, disturbances of vision, heatstroke and having to have each toe lanced daily to complete the incredible challenge.

Jonathan said: “The race takes you to extremes – not just physically but mentally, too. When I felt ready to quit, knowing Richard was at St Luke’s gave me that extra push to keep going despite the pain and harsh conditions.

“Incredibly, on the final day of the race I seemed to get extra strength from somewhere and it wasn’t until after I’d finished that I learned it was then that Richard had passed away.”

Before taking on the Marathon des Sables, Jamie – who saw three friends receive St Luke’s care – had already raised an amazing £27,000 for us, including conquering Mount Kilimanjaro in 2003, trekking across the Arctic with huskies, cycling to John O’Groates and more.

Completing the Marathon des Sables had long been a goal for him, and finishing 97th out of 1,000 was the icing on the cake!

He said: “Each day of the race got harder and harder for different reasons, whether it was the terrain, heat or distance. The longest was Day 4, when I covered over 53 miles in 13 hours 17 minutes.

“The long stage was the most gruelling but also the most satisfying. I knew then that all I had to do was complete a marathon on Day 6 and I would have achieved my goal.

“All the way through, it helped to know I was making a difference for St Luke’s. Most people in Plymouth have been touched or know someone who has been cared for by the team. It’s such a fantastic local charity and really needs our support.”

Well done, Jamie and Jonathan! And thank you so much – the money you have raised will make a big difference.

We hope you’ve been enjoying a well-deserved rest!

When it came to choosing the right person to cut the ribbon at the opening of its new charity shop in Southway, St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth knew just the woman for the job!

Maxine Carter, who lives locally, bravely had her head shaved on her 55th birthday earlier this year, raising almost £5,000 for the charity that cared for her father-in-law at its specialist unit at Turnchapel following his cancer diagnosis.

Her head shave, which took place at the Falstaff Inn in Southway, was something Maxine had been planning for five years while she grew her hair long. Prior to performing the shave, hairdresser Jenny King divided Maxine’s hair into four plaits, each measuring 16 inches, so that they could benefit the Little Princess Trust , which provides real hair wigs free of charge to children who’ve lost their own hair due to illness.

Maxine’s endeavour was supported family and friends who sponsored her, and a raffle at the event further boosted her total.

Speaking about her reasons for supporting the charity, Maxine said: “St Luke’s is important to me because of the fantastic work they do. My mum passed away 37 years ago this August and as a family we had no support from anyone, just a district nurse to visit once a day for personal care. It was really tough.

“But when my father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer, it was St Luke’s who made such a difference. He received great care and as a family we felt well supported.

“I have been overwhelmed at how generously everyone has got behind my fundraising, and I felt very proud to be asked to cut the ribbon at the opening of the new shop.”

There’s no stopping Maxine, who is and taking her bravery to the next level and planning a skydive in aid of St Luke’s.

She said: “I always say to people, you never know what is around the corner and one day they might need the services of St Luke’s. It is a local charity and every penny counts. They need our support so they can carry on the fantastic care they give.”

People wanting to support Maxine can do so via her fundraising page at www.justgiving.com/Maxine-Carter1

When we lose someone close, memories are more precious than ever. They help us feel connected, and cherishing them is an important part of celebrating a loved one’s life.

Creating a memory jar for your written memories and messages can be so helpful and that’s why we have our St Luke’s memory jars. They are available to everyone regardless of whether your loved one was cared for by our team.

Indoors, the jar can be a lovely ornament, while outside at night its glowing lamp can help lighten your thoughts and perhaps your spirits.

You can add to the jar over time and even get other members of the family to contribute, so that every generation can play their part in creating a wonderful keepsake. And if you bought a jar last year, you are welcome to buy a second.

We will display all the memory jars created this year in the peaceful surroundings of Plymouth Hoe Garden, which will be open to the public from 6 to 28 May, between 3 – 7pm Monday to Friday (up to 10pm on Thursday), and 12 – 4pm at weekends and bank holiday Mondays.

By day, the local community will be able to visit to see the keepsakes and pay their respects to those no longer with us. By night, the individual solar lights in the jars will illuminate them, shining brightly over Plymouth Sound.

Everyone who creates a jar is invited to a non-religious service to launch the display, at 3pm on 6 May. With heartfelt readings and poems, it’s an opportunity for remembrance and reflection.

Head of Social Care at St Luke’s Jutta Widlake said: “Every day at St Luke’s we are supporting people who have lost a loved one to a terminal illness. We know that it is always a very difficult time and that sometimes, grief can rob them of their memories of the person they’ve lost.

“We understand how important it is to remember your loved ones – memories are precious and powerful. We want to give people the opportunity to remember the good things and happy times by creating a memory jar they can add to over time. If they want to, they can invite family to contribute their memories too, so that every generation can be involved. The jar can be a talking point and might also lift their spirits.”

Supporters are encouraged to collect their jars from the garden on 30 or 31 May so that they can keep it and add to it over the years.

You can create your own memory jar to join the display at www.stlukes-hospice.org.uk/memoryjar

Bold, bright and a real delight – that’s Elmer’s Big Parade, coming to Plymouth in July 2019. Last month, we shared with you news about this exciting St Luke’s project with Wild in Art and Andersen Press, which will see 40 unique Elmer the Elephant sculptures form a colourful, enchanting and educational trail across our city next summer.

A key part of the project involves established and emerging local artists being invited to submit their designs for our Elmers so that each one is bespoke. It’s these sculptures that will be sponsored to raise money for St Luke’s and later auctioned for our charity.

However, the first Elmer is already complete and attracting much admiration! It’s the handiwork of highly successful local artist Brian Pollard whose ‘naive’ images including landmarks such as Smeaton’s Tower have achieved a global reputation.

When we spoke to Brian at the recent Elmer launch, he explained why he was delighted to be involved, saying: “I have supported St Luke’s previously by contributing Christmas card designs and so on, and it was a a great honour when the charity approached me about this project.”

Brian, who worked as a GP for many years, went on to describe the sometimes challenging process of painting a three-dimensional surface, after being so used to working with flat surfaces.

“It took around eight weeks to complete the painting of my Elmer, working five days a week,” Brian said. “And some areas are so difficult to get to that you have to break off the ends of the brushes to reach them. Also, using acrylic paint means some of the colours are quite thin – I gave the yellow flowers on the face and trunk nine coats. There was a lot of refining, but it was great fun – apart from the effect on my back and my knees!”

Local artists are being invited to submit their design ideas this June. To find out more, visit www.stlukes-hospice.org.uk/elmer.

Rock not only raised the roof but an amazing amount for St Luke’s at the recent annual live music extravaganza at Crash Manor in Plymouth.

The two-day event saw 20 bands, including Rusty Angels and Funky Munks, play for no fee, attracting a big crowd and resulting in £12,635 raised to help us continue caring for patients at the end of life – a record amount for Rockfest in the ten years it has been supporting our charity.

Cuz Cussen is the force behind Rockfest, which he started 17 years ago, fundraising for various charities close to his heart. It was following the death of his beloved mum Dot, in May 2008, that he decided to donate all the money raised each year to St Luke’s.

During the last few months of her life, Dot received our care and spent her last few days at the specialist unit at Turnchapel. Seeing first hand the dedication of our team meant St Luke’s gained a special place in Cuz’s heart, which has spurred him on to raise an incredible £90,000 for us.

Cuz said: “I’m blown away at how generously everyone has supported Rockfest, from the bands and the venue to the businesses who donated raffle prizes and everyone who came to the event. A huge thank you to everybody who has gone the extra mile, including my wife Lyn and close friends.”

Thank you so much to Cuz and everyone who helps make Rockfest the big success it is. We really appreciate your support!

Two ladies with treasured memories of loved ones will be among those getting their glow on to celebrate the life of someone special at our Neon Midnight Walk on 21 July.

Julie Barton will be striding the streets alongside friend Diana Powell. Julie was a long-serving member of the team at Toshiba and is joining fellow ‘Toshettes’, including Diana, for our charity walk.

Julie is putting on her trainers in memory of her sister-in-law Donna, who passed away aged 51 in 2016, and close friend Toni, who died last November, also aged 51. Both were cared for by our specialist team.

Julie said: “Toni and Donna were both such special people. Donna had such an engaging personality – she was loved by all who knew her. I will always remember Toni’s crazy humour and strength. Even the week before she died, she was determined to make it into town to buy herself some new clothes – and she did.”

Diana also has personal reasons for getting involved. She said: “My husband Tony was passionate about raising money for St Luke’s. In 2016 he did some cycling events for the charity, but unfortunately passed away a couple of weeks after that. This my attempt to continue raising money on his behalf.

“I first came across St Luke’s about 15 years ago when a friend’s father was in Turnchapel and I was actually quite stunned about the level of care and compassion. St Luke’s is a caring place and the whole of Plymouth knows that. We need to keep on raising that profile and keep getting the money through to them.”

The Neon Midnight Walk is sponsored by Nash & Co Solicitors. Registration is £22 and includes an exclusive neon t-shirt, as well as a medal and goody bag for all finishers.

If you’d like to register, you can sign up at www.stlukesmidnightwalk.co.uk

When a young child is facing the loss of a parent, it’s so important to communicate with them in a sensitive, age-appropriate way – it can make a big difference to the way they process what’s happening and come to terms with their loss in the longer term.

So it was wonderful when the Morrisons Foundation recently donated £20,000 towards St Luke’s Patches programme, which sees us come alongside families in this very difficult situation.

Having heard about Lisa Carter, our dedicated Patches Family and Children’s Support Worker (Patches being the cute Koi carp character who’s become a familiar face at our specialist unit at Turnchapel), the Foundation was moved to make a difference.

Since the Patches programme launched last November, Lisa has supported over 50 children, such is the demand for this service. She often uses arts and crafts activities to help open up conversation with the children, and the youngsters enjoy using the Patches activity book as well as following the Patches trail.

Angela Millin, Community Champion at Morrisons in Plymstock, said: “Having lost my own mother when I was a very young child, I know just how important this support is. To be able to help with our donation gives us a heart-warming feeling.”

When young children are facing the loss of a loved one, communicating with them in a sensitive, open and age-appropriate way can make a big difference to the way they process what’s happening and come to terms with their loss in the longer term.

That’s why St Luke’s, caring for more and more parents of young children, has launched a pilot to provide much needed support for these families. Lisa Carter is the dedicated Patches Family and Children’s Support Worker, Patches being the cute Koi carp character who’s fast becoming a familiar face at the specialist unit at Turnchapel.

Patches was created by St Luke’s talented Graphic Designer Jesse-James Cambridge with the help of illustrator Marie Arroyo to extend a  fin of friendship to children facing loss. As well as featuring in ‘Remember with Patches’, a pre-bereavement activity book and the play room, our fishy figure provides clues around the grounds of the specialist unit as part ofa fun trail.

On creating Patches, Jesse said: “Patches is a great tool for Lisa in her work, but also acts as a way for children to learn about St Luke’s and continue making memories at home. We decided to give the pilot a ‘mascot’ character at an early stage, and with a beautiful Koi pond at Turnchapel and being so close to the ocean, a fish seemed like the right choice. Children reading the book at home will be able to visit the real Patches when they arrive at Turnchapel – this familiarity should hopefully alleviate some of the fear they might have on their first visit.”

“The myth that fish have very short term memories gave the character a relatable motive to children who might not yet understand what a memory really is, as well as the importance of making memories with their loved ones.”

“In the interactive storybook, Patches learns how the people he loves are always with him in his memories. That’s a powerful message that children can relate to, and I hope it helps them come to terms with what’s happening to their loved one. This project was a real privilege to work on.”

Lisa – who was a Healthcare Assistant at St Luke’s for nine years before moving into this role – is using Patches as part of her work. She has been busy supporting over 50 children following the launch of the pilot in November 2017, with referrals coming through the Social Care team at St Luke’s.

Describing her work, Lisa said: “Every family’s situation is different so it’s really important that I work with them in a way that’s tailored to their specific needs. Sometimes that involves just a phonecall, sometimes much more hands-on support. I can also refer them to other agencies that can help.”

“I arrange to meet the parents or grandparents to talk through what’s happening and find out how they want to be supported, what their children are aware of and what they want them to know, before going on to meet the children either at home or at our specialist unit.”

Lisa’s focus is on supporting children through the trauma and explaining what’s happening in a way that’s appropriate to their age. Her background in healthcare is proving invaluable to this. “My experience helps me to describe things such as catheters and weightloss sensitively, which helps prepare children for the changes they’ll see as the health of their loved one deteriorates,” she said.

As part of her work in building a rapport with the children, Lisa often uses arts and crafts activities, such as making sun-catchers or painting moneyboxes. “This is something the children enjoy,” said Lisa. “And the distraction of creating something is an effective way of opening up difficult conversations with them.”

“While it is very sad that these children are facing something so difficult, it’s really encouraging to see the difference this support makes to them, being appropriately sad and grieving in a healthy way.”

To read the online story book, or access the free downloadable resources for children, visit the Remember with Patches page of our site.

The Patches project was made possible with the generous support of The Morrisons Foundation.

With Men’s Day Out now finished for another year and 1,850 of the male population hopefully now fully recovered the St Luke’s Events Team go in to review mode. In order to attempt to make next years event even better we do our utmost to assess the wins and areas that need further thought.

We caught up with Al Joynes, a 4 year veteran of the event and founder of Plymouth based social enterprise and brand logo design platform domoredesign.com to give us his thoughts.

“Men’s Day Out is without doubt the best charity event in Plymouth. I look forward to it every year. It’s brilliantly organised on the day and has been clearly thought out so that it’s just very easy to do.

I’m sure many of the participants like me are in the same boat with a young family. My wonderful wife accepts that this isn’t just an excuse for a massive pub crawl jolly (apparently there are a good few pubs on the way) but a way in which to spread the word and support a very worthy service. Those of us that live in and around Plymouth all know or have known those that have been cared for by the team at St Luke’s.

It also poses as a great excuse to catch up with friends, colleagues and family. It’s a 12km walk carried out over 4 to 5 hours, believe me a lot of topics are covered during chats on the way around. You also find yourself chatting to complete strangers who like you have signed up to participate and the bantery and cammorardary is world-class (as you would expect from Plymouth). I particularly enjoyed talking to a couple of blokes dressed as bananas and a group dressed as Musketeers, I felt fully underdressed, but it did inspire some ideas for next year, not that fancy dress is a requirement of the event.

Throw in watching the rugby at Plymouth Albion at the end of walk, with a free pasty and pint to top it all off and you have a thoroughly entertaining brilliant day.

This year started with a full english breakfast at Plymouth City Market for our group which, as a veteran of the event, I absolutely recommend.

However, two years ago I used the Men’s Day Out as my stag-do. It was absolutely brilliant! Friends, laughs, many costume changes (thanks to my friends and ever hilarious brother), a ‘ahem’ couple of drinks, rugby and a load of money raised for charity ticked all my boxes. England also smashed France to win the Six Nations Grand Slam, but for some reason, as memorable as that should have been, I had forgotten that I’d watched the game in the Albion clubhouse and had to watch the highlights the next day.

If you know someone who is getting married after March next year I would wholeheartedly put Men’s Day Out in their eye-line as a stag do suggestion.

Above-all the most heart-warming part for me that continues year on year is the volume of motorists, who on seeing the masses of men walking together for a great cause, beeb their horns in support. I have already registered my interest for next year.” Al Joynes Domoredesign.com

If like Al, you will be looking to participate in Men’s Day Out again next year or you are interested in signing up for your very first go, you can register your interest here.

Thank you again to all those that participated in the 2018 Men’s Day Out and we hope to see you and many others again next year.

When it comes to encouraging more open discussion around the sensitive subjects of death and dying, St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth is leading the herd, with a fun and enchanting trail that’s set to add a splash of colour across our city and get people talking.

In collaboration with independent children’s books publisher Andersen Press and creator of public art events Wild in Art, St Luke’s is bringing Elmer the patchwork elephant – the iconic, much-loved storybook character created by Devon-born author and artist David McKee – to Plymouth for Elmer’s Big Parade in 2019, 30 years since Andersen Press first published the Elmer story.
For ten weeks over summer 2019, the eye-catching Elmer’s Big Parade will be adding colour and fun to the city and surrounding areas, where St Luke’s cares for patients with progressive life-limiting illnesses and supports their families and carers.

The 40 unique elephant sculptures, each painted by an established or emerging local artist, will form a trail that will both attract new visitors to Plymouth, curious to see what Elmer is up to, and encourage residents to explore areas they might not have ventured to before.
The sculptures will help people ‘navigate’ the city while increasing awareness of St Luke’s, de-mystifying death, dying and hospice care, and raising vital funds to help the charity look after more patients who need its compassionate care.

The project also includes an interactive app to help people follow the herd, detailing the sculpture locations and enabling them to join the Elmer community by uploading selfies as they go.
Running alongside the trail will be an engaging interactive educational programme for Key Stage 2 and 3 school children that will aid their understanding of death and dying in an age-appropriate way.

Elmer’s Big Parade will be formally launched on 21 March 2018 at Ocean Studios, when a bespoke Elmer designed by popular local artist Brian Pollard will take pride of place alongside a ‘classic’ bright patchwork Elmer.

Following the launch, artists will be invited to submit their designs from June 2018, with the sculpture trail opening in July 2019.

Speaking about the project, St Luke’s Chief Executive Steve Statham said: “An elephant never forgets and that’s a key message for us, too. We want to help people create lasting memories and at St Luke’s we are very proud that we can do this for many patients and their families.

“We’re really excited about Elmer’s Big Parade. As well as being full of fun that will spread a big grin across Plymouth and the wider area, it will encourage meaningful discussion about death, dying and bereavement, subjects we often shy away from but would all benefit from being more open about.
“In addition to being a great free and healthy day out for all the family as they walk the trail, it will also attract new visitors to our city, raising Plymouth’s profile and bringing economic benefits, as well as showcasing a wealth of local artistic talent.”

Charlie Langhorne, Director, Wild in Art, added: “By joining forces with Andersen Press and creating a blank 3D canvas inspired by the famous patchwork elephant, we just know that this big parade will have a positive impact on Plymouth’s residents and visitors, and of course St Luke’s. With similar parades featuring Elmer in Ipswich and Tyne & Wear too, we’re excited to be turning the country patchwork for fantastic causes in 2019.”

Paul Black, PR Director, Andersen Press, added: “We are delighted to be working with St Luke’s and Wild in Art on this project, and cannot wait to see the colourful Elmers around Plymouth – to bring this amazing trail to Plymouth, a place so close to the heart of David McKee, Elmer’s creator, is really the icing on the cake. Here’s hoping we raise lots of money for St Luke’s Hospice, whilst making a fun, inclusive and interactive trail for the public.”

St Luke’s is offering local businesses and other organisations the opportunity to sponsor one of the 40 unique Elmer sculptures that are set to enchant and inspire. Ultimately, these sculptures will be auctioned off to raise money for St Luke’s, ensuring a fitting legacy for the people and communities of Plymouth and the surrounding areas which benefit from the charity’s outstanding care.

Local artists and businesses, find out more!