This Trustees Week (12-16 November) we say a big St Luke’s thank you to our Trustees, all volunteering their time and expertise for the good of our charity.

We caught up with our Chair of The Board, Christina Quinn to find out more about the role of a trustee.

 

It was a bright and early start for the cream of local businesses we welcomed to Turnchapel today for a Devon Chamber of Commerce Crunchy Breakfast.

Ensuring our workplaces are truly compassionate to staff who are bereaved, living with loss or caring for someone at the end of life was top of the menu.

Over coffee and bacon baps, conversations highlighted how being more aware of staff’s circumstances and taking simple steps – such as adapting existing policies – can make a big difference to the health and wellbeing of employees, helping them feel better supported during challenging times.

Bringing the topic into the foreground is all part of the Compassionate City Charter endorsed by Plymouth City Council – watch this space for further news.

As the Kingsbridge article in last month’s Hospice Herald highlighted, in addition to covering busy urban areas such as central Plymouth, St Luke’s care reaches out across rural areas, including the picturesque South Hams.

While picture-postcard pretty, these more isolated places can leave those residents approaching end of life struggling to access the health and social care they need and short on choice when it comes to their preferred place of receiving the specialist help that’s vital at such a difficult time.

Most people with a life limiting progressive illness want to be looked after in the comfort of their own home, close to loved ones. Cathryn Goodchild is a nurse in St Luke’s at home team for the South Hams and covers Modbury through to Chillington, including Kingsbridge, Salcombe and part of South Brent.

Cathryn said: “I’m very much part of team working alongside our physiotherapists and occupational therapists, and my role includes helping to identify patients’ problems, providing symptom control and working with patients and their families to consider options for future care.

“One of the problems is that due to the rural location we can’t automatically access carers through agencies and know that they can visit three or four times a day to meet the needs of our patients and support their carers and families. We’ve had to find alternatives to the ‘traditional’ package of care.”

This challenge has called for a creative and practical approach from St Luke’s to help ensure people in rural areas benefit from high-quality compassionate care in their preferred place. This can include help with washing and dressing, and sometimes overnight care, too. The key is our flourishing partnership with South Hams Hospital, district nurses and local GP surgeries.

Yvonne Bastin, Livewell Southwest Community Sister at South Hams Hospital, said: “Our rural location does present difficulties, and in the summer when there’s a big influx of visitors it impacts on our roads, so it takes much longer to reach patients. The heavy snow earlier this year was also a significant challenge for us.

“But Cathryn and the team are amazing. And it’s not just their practical support – Cathryn gives us advice on medication and getting care. We work well together on completing forms and she’s always there to help, speaking with our doctors, too. If she doesn’t know something, she’ll always find someone who does, whether that’s a St Luke’s doctor or another member of their team.

“Our patients want to be at home, and they know it’s the last place they’ll be. They want to be with their family, and if we can get them the support they need there – well, that’s the whole purpose of our care.”

With numerous charity shops on our high streets, it’s important to stand out when it comes to attracting more customers. And we think our Drake City Centre shop has that extra something that enhances its kerb appeal!

Thanks to City Council grant funding to smarten up shop frontages, the store now boasts attractive new signage that will be subtly illuminated after dark. Take a look next time you’re in the city centre – or perhaps when you’re late night shopping for Christmas – and see our St Luke’s branding standing out 24/7.

It’s always so encouraging when we hear about the challenges our supporters are taking on for St Luke’s, but to hear about an intrepid individual taking on six to raise £40,000? That’s inspiring – and then some!

Busy mum Claire Lemasurier, who lives in Tavistock, generously gives her time to help organise the fundraising skydives for our charity. Now she’s going to greater lengths to raise more funds for our care by taking on six tough expeditions in a year.

To fit in the intensive training needed to tackle her mammoth year of trekking from next April – first in Machu Picchu, followed by Mount Elbrus, Mount Everest base camp, Kilimanjaro and cycling from Vietnam to Cambodia, capped off with the once-in-a-lifetime St Luke’s trek to Malawi in 2020 – Claire dons a 15kg backpack three times a week when she walks to pick her children, aged 10 and 11, from school. She also regularly puts in training at Peak Fitness in Tavistock.

“It’s hard work juggling working, training, volunteering and the kids,” said Claire, who grew up walking on Dartmoor. “But it will be worth it if I can raise all the money. Seeing my kids’ faces when I told them my plan – they were so inspired!”

You can follow Claire’s journey and send her your messages of encouragement at This Girl Can Trek on Facebook and Instagram, help fund her efforts on her GoFundMe page, and if you – or anyone you know – are interested in taking part in our exciting Malawi 2020 Challenge, check out our webpage.

Go, Claire! And thank you for doing something so amazing for St Luke’s.

Our hearts have been warmed by two local children who’ve shown that as well as being enthusiastic and enterprising, they’re very caring as well.

Gabriel Richardson, who attends St George’s Church of England Primary Academy, got on his bike to take part in Tour de Moor with his dad, Tony, raising nearly £300 for St Luke’s. Aware of the care we give, and of the privilege of being fit and healthy themselves, they harnessed their pedal power in our annual cycling challenge on Dartmoor.

“We’ve often cheered from the sidelines at charity races, but this was an opportunity to get stuck into a challenge together, something a little bit tough, to help people needing St Luke’s specialist care,” said Tony.

“I thought we would cycle in ‘dual formation’ side by side, but Gabe was determined to do the route under his own steam. In the early stages he declared it was the best day of his life. That later changed to “Never again!”, but at bedtime that day – when I reminded him how the hard work he’d put in would help poorly people – he smiled and I just knew he would be happy to do it all over again.

“Gabe has just turned eight and I couldn’t be more proud of him, as is everyone else who supported him. It blew us away that his initial target of raising £100 was met within just 12 hours and, thanks to the generosity of family and friends, this grew to nearly £300. It’s great, too, that the Just Giving page we set up is there for him to look back on as a lovely reminder of what he achieved to help other people.”

Meanwhile, big-hearted Madeleine Newstead got together with her friends at Woodlands School in Ivybridge, to sell cakes, jewellery, paperweights and other items they’d made themselves to raise money for our charity by having a stall at the school. Together, the young entrepreneurs made over £170!

While Maddy is the granddaughter of St Luke’s trustee Steve Newstead, she was not aware of his role with our charity at the time she decided to roll up her sleeves to get cooking and crafting to help us.

Steve said: “Maddy did this off her own bat and she and her friends did a great job. I was delighted to hear that it was all in aid of St Luke’s, and encouraged at their awareness of what our charity is about. It just goes to show, you’re never too young to make a difference.”

Can you picture yourself driving about town behind the wheel of a stylish new car? We’re excited to announce that this is the fantastic prize instore for the lucky winner of St Luke’s upcoming raffle!

You’ve got to be in it to win it, so look out for the raffle launch on 12 November, snap up your tickets and you could be the proud owner of a stunning new five-door Suzuki Celerio SZ2 worth over £8,000, and supplied by Rowes Suzuki. Compact yet full of fabulous features, including low CO2 emissions, USB connectivity and alloy wheels, the Celerio is a small car that makes a big impression!

Of course, funds raised from the raffle will support our compassionate care, so please tell family and friends about this amazing opportunity – perhaps you could even pop a raffle ticket inside their Christmas cards this year? Tickets are £1 each and available from our charity shops or online.

The hills and woods of Dartmoor were alive with mud, sweat and gears today, Sunday 30 September, as hundreds of people donned their yellow tee-shirts and got on their bikes in support of St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth.

Once again, the charity’s annual Tour de Moor cycling challenge was a sellout, with adrenalin-seekers taking on the tough 23km route or the gruelling 52km route, putting their skills to the ultimate test by tackling the hills up to Princetown.

Young families took part in their droves, too, following the more gentle 11km route along Drake’s Trail, enjoying ‘selfie’ stops, a hot chocolate and a quiz along the way.
Sponsored by Print Copy Scan, a local supplier of printers and copiers, Tour de Moor provides for every level of cycling ability while raising vital funds that help St Luke’s extend its specialist end of life care to more people who desperately need it at home, in hospital and at the specialist unit at Turnchapel.

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Braving the 52km route was a father taking on the toughest challenge in memory of his beloved son. It was a poignant day for Chris Weir, 69, of Plympton, participating to support St Luke’s following their care for son Mark, who sadly passed away in January this year aged just 36, having been admitted to the specialist unit at Turnchapel over Christmas, following time in hospital.
At Turnchapel, Mark was able to spend precious time with visiting family, including his children, who received support through St Luke’s Patches pre-bereavement programme for youngsters facing the loss of a parent.

Clive said: “Mark was always up for a challenge. He was so brave and I’m so proud of him. St Luke’s gave such great care, which helped him to die peacefully but also to live until he died. Events like Tour de Moor are important because the more people who know about St Luke’s, the greater their impact.”

And riding the 23km route in memory of step-father Steve Mills – who passed way at the specialist unit three years ago – was Daniel White, who lives in Plymstock.

Daniel said: “’Daddy Steve’ as we knew him was an amazing guy. I’ll always remember how friendly everyone was when we visited him and the beautiful gardens where we could just sit and enjoy the peaceful surroundings together. My mum was able to stay at St Luke’s with Steve and the staff were so reassuring and good at explaining things.”

Also taking part in the 23km were couple Dave and Jay Trestain from Padstow, Cornwall, cheered on by young daughter, Dora, and Dave’s mum, Jane. Dave, who is receiving treatment for cancer, was excited to be doing Tour de Moor for the second year and pleased the timing of the event fitted in after recent surgery.

Jay said: “It was so brilliant doing Tour de Moor together last year that we’ve both looked forward to it – the anticipation has helped us a lot. There’s such a great party atmosphere with loads of other families.”

With Tour de Moor raising almost £100,000 last year and the event once again completely selling out this time, people of all ages rallied to make it a day to remember.

Among them were five-year-old Jacob Cottam and dad Chris of Plympton, who took on the more gentle 11km route along Drake’s Trail. They heard about the annual event through Jacob’s school, Plymouth College, and were excited to be combining fitness with fundraising for St Luke’s.

Chris said: “First thing this morning, Jacob was so excited he dived on me! It’s such a great thing for us to do together and it really has the feel-good factor. It was great to see everyone enjoying such an electric atmosphere.”

Lewis Gunn, 25, and Ryan Mortlemans are friends who signed up for Tour de Moor for the sheer exhilaration of the challenge and took on the 23km route together. Lewis said: “We both do loads of cycling and this was a great opportunity to take on a more extreme challenge. Parts of it were pretty gruelling but it was all amazing. It’s Plymouth’s answer to the Tour de France!”

All the funds raised from today’s Tour de Moor will help the care St Luke’s gives everywhere from Salcombe to East Cornwall via Tavistock and the moors, supporting families as much as patients.

Claire Luckhurst, Event Fundraiser for St Luke’s said, “What a fantastic day! We’re hugely grateful to everyone who’s braved the course today. It’s an incredible achievement and the money they’ve raised will go direct to our compassionate care for patients and their families when time is running short. Everyone who took part has done us all proud!”

St Luke’s would like to recognise the kindness of the Maristow Estate and Buckland Abbey for providing the use of their land this year, Dartmoor National Park Authority and Devon and Cornwall

4 x 4 Response for their vital support, and the Plume of Feathers pub for help with facilities.

Register your interest for Tour de Moor 2019.

We never cease to be amazed at the wonderful ways our community gets behind us, and we’re sure you’ll agree these supporters deserve a special mention and a big thank you.

And the bride wore…cake!

It’s your wedding day and you’re looking radiant, celebrating together with loved ones. What could possibly make the day more memorable?

For bride Jo, who recently married Tom Thorne at Sturtlebury Barn in Loddiswell, it was something very unusual – and messy!

When the guests voted for which member of the wedding party should receive a cake in the face for St Luke’s, they chose Jo, who – despite looking beautiful in her special dress –  sportingly took it not just on the chin but over her entire face!

Jo said: “Tom and I wanted to do something to help St Luke’s because we have all had loved ones cared for by the amazing team.

“Little did I know I’d be the ‘lucky’ one to get a cake in the face – and I do think Tom took far too much pleasure in splatting me! But it was all for a fantastic cause and gave us some very interesting wedding photos, too!”

Nailing it for St Luke’s

When you’re just hours away from jumping 15,000ft from a plane for charity, it’s usually a nail-biting time. For Bernadette Mullarkey though, damaging her nails was something she definitely wanted to avoid!

Plucky Bernadette, who was bravely taking part in a skydive for St Luke’s in memory of her dad, Rodney, got her nails done to mark the occasion and went all out with St Luke’s colours and logo on her fingertips, as you can see!

She said: “My dad was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of lung cancer and sadly passed away after a very short battle; it was his wish to die at home surrounded by loved ones. St Luke’s offered us both physical and emotional support and were just incredible, enabling us to keep our promise to our dad.”

“Not only did they make my dad as comfortable as possible and care for him in his final stages of his life, they allowed him to die with dignity. We as a family are so grateful.”

Paula goes up in the world

With Plymouth Community Homes (PCH) getting behind us as their charity of the year, their fundraising has been reaching new heights!

Recently, Housing Officer Paula Williams went above and beyond to bravely venture up on the roof of one of the landmark 43m-high Mount Wise Towers after she was ‘persuaded’ to take on the challenge, raising sponsorship money for St Luke’s in the process.

It’s not every day a Housing Officer finds herself encountering the dizzy heights of being 17 floors up, so how did it come about?

Once a month the roofs of all three towers undergo inspection to ensure they’re in good order. While this is normally carried out by specialists in building safety, Pete Bold from PCH’s Minor Works team invited Paula to don the harness and join in with an inspection as a highly original way to support St Luke’s.

Paula, who used to work in community outreach, still remembers a local man she met while running a supper club for socially isolated older men and how wonderfully St Luke’s cared for him at the end of his life.

She said: “I had a real soft spot for Gilbert and so felt this was something really good I could do to help the charity.”

When she visited Turnchapel for a tour, Paula told us: “I’m no fan of heights so when I came out of the tower’s roof hatch I was shaking. Wearing the safety harness and using ropes, I had to make my way all around the edge.

“I then got the privilege of the most amazing views across the whole of the city, the moors and over to Cornwall – incredible!”

 

St Luke’s care extends to isolated rural areas as well as across Plymouth and large towns, and we’re all too aware that not everyone has equal access to healthcare, particularly when it comes to the specialist care needed when a person is approaching the end of life.

While most people with a terminal illness want to die at home, we know that those living in rural areas suffer less choice with end of life care than their urban counterparts and many simply cannot die at home, due to a lack of care agencies.

As part of our Compassionate Communities initiative – which aims to facilitate communities where everyone recognises we all have a role in supporting each other, particularly during periods of crisis or loss – we are keen to enable choice and compassion in rural as well as urban areas, benefiting both the dying person and their loved ones caring for them at home as it is these ‘informal’ carers who can often feel very isolated and unsure where to turn for help.

Earlier this year, at the Who Cares in Kingsbridge event, we met individuals and voluntary groups from the rural market town who told us that while they’re keen to work together in a supportive network, this could not succeed without a dedicated individual to provide a co-ordinated approach.

They spoke and we listened! And now, following a successful bid to Hospice UK for grant funding, we are set to employ a Community Network Co-ordinator for Kingsbridge. Once appointed, they will work across the patch to help build up the community’s capacity to support people at the end of life and the loved ones caring.

Crucially, the role will focus on development and training of individuals as Compassionate Friends, including producing a toolkit and ‘training’ them to do the ‘little’ things – such as making meals, shopping, providing a listening ear and company – that make a big difference to those going through such challenging times. The Co-ordinator will also train up Compassionate Champions, who can in turn train Compassionate Friends in much the same way that Dementia Champions nurture Dementia Friends.

Central to this new post will be developing and training volunteer end of life compassionate co-ordinators to co-ordinate networks in the area, creating Compassionate Friends and working alongside existing voluntary groups to support carers in a joined-up way, to work with formal care-givers such as nurses and personal assistants (paid carers) to wrap services around the carer and the person they look after.

A key outcome of this project will be healthcare professionals recognising and legitimising informal caring networks. With many individuals and groups to consider, another important outcome will be an ‘asset map’ of the community, a helpful resource that can be accessed online by both the public and professionals.

In addition, the ‘My Supportive Network’ tool produced will allow carers to identify their local supportive network and enable them to tap into voluntary services that can help.

This community project aims to support and train 350 people and make a real difference in Kingsbridge and surrounding areas with a model that can then be tailored to benefit other communities, too.

Gail Wilson, Deputy Director of Clinical Services and Head of Education at St Luke’s, said: “Death, dying and bereavement are inevitable parts of life but they are not primarily medical events. We know that end of life care and the experiences of those who are left behind impacts on them hugely, and we need to develop new ways of working that provide more help and support both while their loved one is alive and after.

“St Luke’s is committed to working with our local communities, such as Kingsbridge, to realise the potential of informal networks and develop a more effective model that promotes compassionate carer support and choice for those at the end of life, so that they can die at home with those they love.”