This summer was extra blooming lovely, thanks to another highly successful Open Gardens season for St Luke’s – the ninth since it became an official part of our charity’s calendar of events.

The annual extravaganza sees wonderful gardens across Devon and Cornwall throw open their gates to welcome members of the public, some green-fingered and others there simply to enjoy the peaceful and enchanting surroundings and perhaps a cup of tea, a slice of cake and a plant sale, too.

As well welcoming back the ‘hardy perennials’ – the gardens whose owners kindly open them for St Luke’s each year – we bedded in some new gardens this summer, and some not usually open to the public, giving an exclusive glimpse of hidden gems.

Over 25 dates throughout the season, 108 gardens welcomed 4,783 visitors in total – each of these representing considerable dedication, hard work and often monetary investment of their owners, as well as help from friends and neighbours to make the day a success.

Thanks to entry fees, raffles, plant sales and donations, Open Gardens raised £48,000 this year – plus £10,000 from our generous sponsor, Portcullis Legals.

The continued blossoming of the scheme means it has now brought in over £330,000 for our patient care since it started.

Wayne Marshall, Community Fundraiser for St Luke’s, is the man who tirelessly co-ordinates the many strands of this big annual event. He said: “There’s a real feel-good factor to Open Gardens. The wonderful thing is that the gardens are located in the areas where we provide our specialist care, so not just in the big towns but some of the little villages, too.

“It’s a lovely combination of gardens with histories that in some cases stretch back hundreds of years – often with amazing specimens – to the pretty smaller gardens that make up the popular village walkabouts.

“What’s fantastic is the way it brings people in those communities together – from residents growing plants in advance to schools making scarecrows and people baking cakes. There are hundreds of volunteers and community groups involved and I want to say a big thank you to them, as well as to Portcullis Legals whose generous sponsorship also makes a big difference.”

Never one to rest on his laurels(!), Wayne is already busy with planning for next year’s Open Gardens, which will be extra special as the scheme celebrates its tenth anniversary.

When asked to reveal some of the treats in store, he said: “We already have 18 dates booked in for garden openings, and much-loved local artist and St Luke’s Patron Brian Pollard will be designing a special anniversary brochure for us, which is really exciting.

“I really look forward to Open Gardens. It’s just a lovely thing to be part of.”

Learn more about Open Gardens 2019

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!”

Learn more about becoming St Luke’s charity of the year.

Did you know that a staggering 2.23billion people worldwide have a personal Facebook account they use on a regular basis? What might surprise you even more is that predictions indicate that within the next few decades, the social media giant will have more online profiles of deceased people than those living.

Over recent years, St Luke’s social workers – who support patients and families across the community – have witnessed a gradual shift in the way bereaved people are accessing records that capture the treasured memories they have of their loved one.

Where once they reached for the album packed with family photos, increasingly they are going online to social media sites, such as Facebook, to access those precious pictures and recollect happy times with the person they’ve lost.

In her work as a Social Worker for St Luke’s, Danielle Brown supports patients both at home and at our specialist unit at Turnchapel. She’s there to help them emotionally and also in practical ways, and her support extends to their family members, too.

She said: “Part of my role is to give them the time and space to talk about their loved one, including their memories of special times together. When they want to show me photos, often this will now be pictures online, including on social media sites like Facebook.”

As Danielle has observed, while digital platforms can be very positive in helping the bereaved, unfortunately they can have a negative impact, too.

“I worked with one young woman who really enjoyed going back through her late mum’s profile and looking at her photos,” she said. “But I have also seen how distressing it can be for the bereaved person when they see pop-up reminders of birthdays and other occasions, or received friend suggestions. It’s hard for the family left behind because they have no control over their loved one’s online account.”

This raises an important point – have you thought about who will take over your digital legacy? At St Luke’s we encourage open conversations with friends and family about end of life wishes but the online ‘life’ can easily be overlooked.

That’s why we’re heartened to see that Facebook has taken a proactive, compassionate stance on the issue by introducing a Legacy Contact function. It’s actually been around since 2015, but is not widely known about.

So, how does the feature work? Thankfully, it’s straightforward!

You can nominate an individual to have access to your Facebook profile when you die and have your profile ‘memorialised’, removing your profile from automated functions like birthday reminders and friend suggestions.

Your nominated individual will have to contact Facebook before the legacy function can be activated and, importantly, they can’t log on as you and will not have access to your personal messages. However, once the function is activated the individual can post on your behalf to publish funeral arrangements. They can also change the profile picture, respond to friend requests or close down your account.

In addition, when you nominate your legacy contact you can give permission for them to download the data archive containing all the posts, photos and videos from your profile.

If you’d prefer not to have a legacy contact, you can let Facebook know you want your profile deleted upon notification of your death.

To access your legacy contact, simply click settings from a desktop pc, then general, then manage account, where you will find the legacy options.

And finally, remember to have those open and honest conversations with your nominated person to ensure they manage your digital legacy in accordance with your wishes. That way, you’ll not only have peace of mind about your virtual world but make things that little bit easier for those nearest and dearest to you.

Learn more about bereavement support at St Luke’s

Learn more about pre-bereavement support for children

Our fundraising events volunteers are our unsung heroes. There to give a smile and cheer of encouragement when the going gets tough and to make your personal challenge unforgettable.

Raising money to ensure patients and their families get the support they need, when they need it is a real team effort. In fact, an event volunteer plays as much of a role in making this care possible as the people taking part. Without them the event would simply not happen and we are truly grateful for this amazing act of kindness.

Did you know it takes 80 volunteers to put on our Tour de Moor cycling event?

Volunteers are urgently required to help at Tour de Moor on the morning of Sunday 30 September at Yelverton. From marshalling to helping on the water station and registration desk, if you can spare a few hours – we’d love to hear from you.

Drop us a line,, call 01752 492626 or drop us a DM on social media.

At St Luke’s, we have a wealth of expertise in end of life care and we don’t just keep it to ourselves. We share our knowledge, skills and experience to help other healthcare professionals and the people they look after.

Along with members of our clinical staff, our Education team is set to facilitate an event for the East Cornwall Primary Care team this November. Aimed at a range of healthcare practitioners, including GPs, nurses, paramedics, physiotherapists and occupational therapists, it will focus on how best to support patients and their families when it comes to advance care planning (ACP).

This future planning can ensure an individual’s choices are considered in clinical decision making if the individual has lost the capacity to communicate their choices should certain situations arise.

However, ACP can involve some sensitive and often challenging decisions around issues such as resuscitation and refusal of treatment, and can therefore be avoided by both the individual themselves or the healthcare professionals involved in the patient’s care.

The training session will aim to help by breaking down some of the associated taboos and barriers, looking at ways to initiate the conversation in a patient-centred way.

It will also focus on the legal requirements behind the discussions and decisions, such as human rights and mental capacity, and highlight the tools and documentation available to support these conversations, such as treatment escalation plans and mental capacity assessments. Learn more about bespoke training and courses available to healthcare professionals.

With St Luke’s having cared for his friend Paula Gerry, Nigel Croft from Tamerton Foliot was keen to give back to our charity. That’s why he grabbed his trainers and ran a staggering 100 miles in 24 hours!

Taking part in Hope 24 at Newnham Park, Nigel went without sleep to meet his target, and was joined by Paula’s husband Steve and many other friends for a couple of 5-mile laps.

Nigel said, “I knew Paula for almost 30 years and she was a dear friend. Always smiling and finding positive ways to help out and support our drama group, she was vibrant, friendly, a great organiser and had a tremendous sense of fun.

“Before she sadly lost her battle with cancer last November, Paula was helped and supported by St Luke’s and Pals of POOCH (Plymouth Oncology Outpatients and Chemotherapy), so this is my way of giving back to these special teams.”

Thank you, Nigel, for raising £2,050 for St Luke’s in memory of Paula. You really have gone that extra mile!

Pictured with Nigel is St Luke’s receptionist volunteer Angie Tourle, a former colleague of Nigel’s. Learn more how you can get involved with St Luke’s.

Got something you no longer want or need? Don’t just chuck it – use Gone for Good instead! Available for both Android and iPhones, this handy app is a great way to get rid of unwanted furniture or a bag of clothes you no longer need, for example, while giving the charity of your choice a boost.

All you need to do is download the free app, take a photo of the item you want to donate, add a brief description of the item and select the charity you want to benefit. You then add your contact details and the charity will be in touch to arrange collection for a time that suits you.

There you have it, a simple and convenient way to shift that unwanted item and do good at the same time. Please spread the word about this great little app – think about how much good it could do for St Luke’s! Learn more.

It’s bright and eye-catching and features several familiar friendly faces – it’s St Luke’s new volunteer recruitment campaign!

With ages ranging from 13 to 90, our volunteers are at the heart of St Luke’s and we simply couldn’t provide our vital services without them. Our challenge is to continue to attract these generous spirits so that whether it’s our events, our charity shops, our Distribution Centre or in the kitchen or in maintenance, we have a sufficient number of committed volunteers to work alongside our hardworking staff so that St Luke’s continues to deliver outstanding care. Thanks to the creative talent of the in-house Marketing and Communications team, we have a really strong suite of marketing materials to help with this. With vibrant and engaging posters, pullup banners, postcards, social media and TV animation, as well a dedicated ‘pod’ for events, the message that volunteering for St Luke’s makes an important difference will be well and truly out there!

Importantly, the campaign features some of the many inspiring volunteers from across our charity, so you’re bound to recognise a face or two. And using their words, which focus on what they’ve gained while they’ve been giving back, adds real impact.

Sanna Tyrvainen, Volunteer Services Manager at St Luke’s, said: “With an organisation of our size that provides such a vital service, we need to recruit volunteers all year round and can never be complacent. Our many shops, in particular, require a lot of volunteers to help ensure they run smoothly. “In fact, we have an urgent need for more retail volunteers and we hope this campaign will help spread the message. People don’t have to commit huge amounts of time – the willingness to give a couple of hours a week can make a big difference.”

If you or anyone you know would like to find out more about volunteering with St Luke’s, please go to our website or call 01752 401172.

If you usually bypass charity shops, it’s well worth having a re-think!

Our St Luke’s charity shop at Ridgeway, Plympton, is throwing open its doors on the evening of Thursday 6 September and everyone is welcome.

Pop in between 5pm and 8pm to find out about the shop and also the role of our fantastic volunteers, who give their time knowing our shops bring in vital income that we couldn’t do without.

With nibbles kindly supplied by the Co-op, wine, and musical entertainment from the U3A Plym Chords Fun Choir, it’s a great opportunity to meet our lovely shop manager Trudi, too.

We look forward to seeing you!


On a recent tour of Devon and Cornwall hospices, CEO Hospice UK Tracey Bleakley talks about first impressions of St Luke’s and sets the record straight on who makes the best scones! Devon or Cornwall?