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Colin Pincombe, St Luke’s Impact Volunteer Partner in the South Hams, rounds up the news on what’s been happening across the area to support our charity’s compassionate care in the community.

“Our volunteers are gradually mobilising after the lockdown. Recently, the Friends in Modbury held a most successful stand at the Modbury Fair, selling clothes, accessories and raffle tickets to raise almost £500. This is a really sociable and supportive group, and it is a pleasure to be associated with them.

“My dream is to form one or two similar groups elsewhere in the South Hams – maybe in Kingsbridge, Salcombe or Ivybridge. Membership can lead to lasting friendships, while supporting an essential local healthcare charity. Do get in touch with me if you might be able to help – please see contact details below.

“With the easing of some lockdown restrictions, St Luke’s Open Gardens scheme has been able to proceed. In the South Hams the weather was glorious for our events at Lower Combe Royal (Kingsbridge) and Gnaton Hall (near Newton Ferrers); it was a little cloudy at Lukesland (Ivybridge), but this did not detract from the fabulous flora and scrumptious cakes.

“Future Open Gardens are at Lower Combe Royal (Kingsbridge) on 20 June and Sommerswood Lakes (South Brent) on 11 July. More will follow, and further information can be found here. Here you will see there’s also the opportunity to win an original painting by Brian Pollard. We are so grateful to the owners who open their beautiful gardens in aid of St Luke’s.

“A Compassionate Café was opened in Kingsbridge in mid-June. This enables anyone who is looking after someone who is dying, has been bereaved or is living with a life-limiting illness to talk to someone with a sympathetic ear. Where needed, more specialised services can be signposted to provide specific advice. Do come along to the Compassionate Café for tea, coffee and a chat, every second and fourth Saturday, 10.30am – 12.30pm, at Harbour House Café, Kingsbridge. Please contact the café organiser, Linda Christian, on 07517 019131 in advance to say that you wish to attend or for more information.

“We have been chosen to be sponsored by the Lions Club of Ivybridge and to run a stand at their annual Fun Day on 10 July at the Rugby Club, Cross-in-Hand, Filham, Ivybridge. Please visit us there or, better still, put on your straw hats and come to enjoy The Wurzels on 9 July from 7pm. Booking and further information can be found here.

“There are many other events further afield, such as the Eddystone Lighthouse Challenge. Nine boats have entered in aid of St Luke’s, all from the Plymouth area, so I’m looking for an entry to represent the South Hams. See Sail for St Luke’s for details.

“Do contact me if you feel you might be able to help – 01752 492626 / cpincombe@stlukes-hospice.org.uk.”

For three little girls whose father died from cancer last year, their teddy bears will always be incredibly special because – at the press of a paw – they can hear Daddy’s voice reminding them of his enduring love and affection.

When 37-year-old surfing instructor Russ French from Loddiswell (South Hams, Devon) was in his last days of life at Turnchapel, where our team looked after him, he recorded the heart-warming messages his wife Ginny says have since brought great comfort to the couple’s daughters, Effy, 9, and Aria, 4, just as they will to 1-year-old Indi, who was just a few months old when sadly, Russ died.

 

Ginny said: “Russ was always the most happy, chilled-out person but when his condition deteriorated quickly and he needed hospice care, it was a very anxious time for us. When you’re both in your 30s, it is not something you expect to be facing and it felt very daunting. This was all in the midst of the pandemic, too, which made things even harder.

“It really helped that the team was so warm and welcoming. Most people know about the fantastic medical care St Luke’s provides but what stood out to me was the way they showed great kindness to us as a family. It was Lisa, one of St Luke’s Family and Children’s Support Workers, who suggested that Russ record the teddy messages for the girls. She was there for us back in 2019, when she gently helped to prepare the girls for the changes they would see in Russ, and she has been such a source of reassurance for them – and me – ever since.

“For the wider team, too, nothing was ever too much trouble. I remember how they bought fish and chips for Russ as they knew it was his favourite, and they made sure he could get out into the gardens to see the sun setting.

“They did all this despite the challenges they were facing providing care while adhering to all the COVID safety measures. Russ was given a side room with private access so that I could visit and he could watch Effy and Aria run around and play with the sandboxes just outside his window. He was always such a loving, hands-on dad and I know how much that meant to him.

“This being our second Father’s Day without Russ, we’ll take it as it comes and I’ll be led by the girls. I expect we’ll be on the beach at Bigbury, where we had so many happy times with him. And whenever they want to hear Daddy’s voice, the teddies will always be there for Effy, Aria and Indi as a reminder of that very special bond.”

Our heartfelt thanks to Ginny and all Russ’s family and friends for the fantastic fundraising they have done for St Luke’s in memory of such a special man. They’ve raised over £19,000, for which we are so grateful.

If you’d like to remember a special dad by supporting St Luke’s, take a look at our in memory giving options here.

When there’s been a bereavement in the family and you also have caring responsibilities, it’s a lot to manage and can feel very tough at any age.

With today being the start of national Carers Week (7 – 13 June), we’re sharing 19-year-old Aaron’s story to raise awareness of caring and highlight some of the challenges carers face, as well as the important difference a friendly, listening ear can make during a really difficult time.

City College accountancy student Aaron was close to his grandfather Brian, who was looked after at home by our community team before sadly, he died last year. While living with such a sad loss, Aaron and his mum, Sarah, are also sharing the care of Aaron’s grandmother, Jill, who lives close to them in Eggbuckland.

Aaron said: “My grandad was an upbeat person and always busy, and it was very hard seeing his health suddenly decline within a short space of time. We all miss him so much, but it does comfort us that he got his wish of being at home when he died because St Luke’s were able to come in and look after him there.

“It’s been particularly tough on my gran because they were married for over 60 years and now she lives by herself. I know she looks forward to the visits she gets from mum and me, and because her health isn’t good – which affects her mobility – we share the responsibility of looking after her. It’s a bit of everything really, from shopping to fixing things around the house. It’s getting harder for my mum though because she herself has arthritis and finds it difficult to move, so I’ve been taking on more.

“We manage as well as we can but it can feel stressful, particularly when I need to study for my exams, and sometimes it’s hard not having any siblings to share the responsibilities with. It can feel quite isolating. I find that what helps is the bereavement support I’m getting from St Luke’s. Due to the pandemic, this has been over the phone and it’s been reassuring to know I can talk about how I’m feeling to someone who understands.

“I also like making art – in fact, it’s a bit of a stress-reliever for me. What’s nice, too, is that my gran used to be arty so she takes a real interest in what I do. Although she’s too shaky to draw now, she’s always keen to see my latest work and that really means a lot to me.”

The theme for this year’s Carers Week is making caring more visible and valued, highlighting the vital role carers play in our communities and draw attention to just how important caring is. To find out more, click here.

If you are a carer for someone who is a patient of St Luke’s, our team is here to help you through emotional support and practical advice.

Ladies across the city are being invited to celebrate the lives of their lost loved ones and put their best foot forward for our Midnight Walk that is making its much-anticipated return this summer.

Following its cancellation last year because of lockdown restrictions, Midnight Walk is set to take place on Friday 20 August. The popular mass participation event raises vital funds to help our charity provide specialist end of life care for terminally ill people at home, in hospital and at Turnchapel, as well as emotional support for them and their families – services that are likely to be needed more than ever in the months ahead due to the impact of the pandemic.

Kindly sponsored by GA Solicitors, Midnight Walk is an opportunity for women and girls of all ages to come together as one to pay tribute to relatives and friends who are gone but will never be forgotten, sharing precious memories and creating new ones as they stride the streets of Plymouth for the sponsored walk.

This year, the ladies will set out from Home Park Stadium, taking on their choice of a 5, 10 or 15-mile route across Plymouth in their brightly coloured tee-shirts adorned with the names of the loved ones whose memory they are honouring.

Speaking about the event, Penny Hannah, Head of Fundraising, said: “If ever there was a year for coming together to walk in memory of lost loved ones, this is it, and we are thrilled that after such a long wait we can finally welcome ladies back to take part in Midnight Walk. We can’t wait to see them, and as always, we are going to make it a really fun night for them all.

“We are conscious though, that alongside the excitement as we move towards the lifting of restrictions on big outdoor events like ours, there is sadness for so many who have been bereaved as they continue to gradually adjust to life without that special person by their side. 

“It’s possible that for some, Midnight Walk could even be the first opportunity they will have to reunite with friends and family they have been forced apart from – and perhaps unable to grieve with – because of the pandemic, which means it will be an extra poignant occasion.

“All ladies are welcome, regardless of whether or not their loved one received care from St Luke’s and, of course, you don’t need to be walking in memory. You can join us simply for the fantastic uplifting atmosphere, knowing you will be making an important difference for local families right when they need it most.”

Registration for Midnight Walk costs £22, which includes the cost of your t-shirt as well as a medal and goodie bag for all completers. Click here for more information and to sign up.

If the past turbulent year has taught us anything, it’s just how quickly life can change and the dramatic impact this can have on us and the people we hold dear. That’s why as well as reminding people about the importance of having a will, we’re stressing how crucial it is to keep its content updated so that your loved ones will be protected after you’ve gone.

Launching our Make a Will Month campaign (1 – 31 May) in partnership with local solicitors, St Luke’s is highlighting the good sense of making sure your will keeps pace with the significant changes in your life, such as buying a home, getting married, starting a family, getting divorced or the death of your partner.

In support of the campaign, which raises vital funds to help our charity continue providing compassionate care for terminally ill people across Plymouth and surrounding areas, 10 community-spirited solicitors are waiving the fee they would normally charge for making and updating wills in return for a donation to St Luke’s. We give our specialist care and support free of charge to the many local families who rely on our service, but with less than a third of our funding coming from the NHS we are reliant on the generosity of supporters to continue our vital role.

Spearheading St Luke’s Make a Will Month campaign is our Head of Fundraising Penny Hannah, who knows first-hand how life can change overnight and how keeping your will current can help bring peace of mind.

Penny said: “I think it was learning at an early age that nothing in life is certain that made me feel I always want to be as prepared as I can be for whatever lies ahead. I was just 14 when my father died suddenly, and I had to grow up fast. Losing dad was incredibly hard, and my older siblings and I became a rock for my mum.

“I started work as soon as I could so that there was enough money coming in, taking a cleaning job after school at 14 and going into the world of retail, where I quickly worked my way up. By the age of 23 I was a store manager for a national retail chain and had my own home, but it was marriage and the birth of my first daughter, Amber, that was the catalyst for me deciding to get organised and make a will. I remember, very clearly, wanting to know she would be provided for if history repeated itself and she lost me young in life the way I lost my dad. When my then-husband and I made our wills, we included our choice of legal guardians for her, something we updated a few years later when our second daughter, Ruby, was born.

“Since then, life has taken many unexpected twists and turns, as it does for most people. Following the breakdown of my marriage and subsequent divorce, which led to a new chapter in my life, I knew it was important that I should rewrite my will. The next part of my story is a fairytale. I met my prince, Andrew, and when we married our two families became one bigger one of seven. We have shifted careers and moved home, and as a couple we have agreed to keep our wills current so that our loved ones are provided for, no matter what happens.

“Before the pandemic we enjoyed foreign holidays, and we hope to again when it’s safe to travel. Every time we go away, we feel we can truly relax because we know our affairs are in order should the worst happen. We’ve recently become grandparents for the first time, so life has shifted again in another wonderful way.

“While I understand that it may not be uppermost in people’s minds at the moment with everything else that is going on, I can’t stress enough how having an up-to-date will can help free you to enjoy living in the moment. It is one of the kindest things you can do for the people who matter most to you, making what can be a traumatic time for them that bit easier.”

Details of the solicitors taking part in St Luke’s Make a Will Month can be found here, or call 01752 492626 for more information. Appointments can be made for May or for later in the year, and there is the option to meet with a solicitor online or in person.

We’re delighted to bring you the exciting news that we’re planning for the return of Midnight Walk, Men’s Day Out and Tour de Moor this autumn – and we cannot wait to see you!

Of course, safety is always our top priority so the following event information is subject to the unfolding situation regarding COVID-19 and any easing of lockdown restrictions. We will continue to keep our supporters updated.

Midnight Walk

Our plan is for the city’s favourite ladies’ night out to return this August, giving you the opportunity to light up the night, remember someone special and have loads of fun with your friends while doing good in your community.

Visit the Midnight Walk webpage for up to date information and news by clicking here.

Men’s Day Out

Guys, many of you have already signed up for our hotly anticipated day of rugby and banter because you kindly agreed for us to roll forward your registration from the event we were forced to postpone last year. We’re planning to welcome you back in September, so get ready to go the distance with your mates in aid of local families who need St Luke’s at the toughest of times.

Visit the Men’s Day Out webpage for up to date information and news by clicking here.

Tour de Moor

We know that so many of you were disappointed to miss out on the mud, sweat and gears of our family friendly biking challenge last year. We are hopeful that our forthcoming discussions with Dartmoor National Park will see you back in the saddle for St Luke’s this October.

Visit the Tour de Moor webpage for up to date information and news by clicking here.

We know it may feel frustrating to have to wait until later in the year, so if you’d like to show your support for St Luke’s before then, there are lots of ways you can do this. Our weekly lottery is a great way to help us continue our care while you have a flutter, or you could sponsor a St Luke’s Nurse whose warmth and compassion shows terminally ill people in your community they have not been forgotten.

A 30-year career spanning both clinical and non-clinical roles with St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth has given Paula Hine a unique perspective on the organisation and how it has evolved in order to survive in an increasingly tough climate.

Reflecting on her long career with the charity, Paula, who has recently been appointed Interim Head of Education at St Luke’s, said: “When I first walked through the doors of the specialist unit Turnchapel all those years ago, little did I imagine where my experience of looking after terminally ill patients on the ward would lead me.

“I grew up in nearby Tavistock and my early nursing career started locally at South Hams Hospital, where I did a bit of everything, but over time my interest in caring for people at end of life grew and this was the area I was keen to focus on. It appealed to me because of the ethos of holistic care, which led to me keeping an eye out for a job at St Luke’s.

“When I joined in 1991, the organisation was much smaller than it is today. The focus was on Turnchapel, where as well as inpatient care we also had a day hospice.

“At that time, nursing was still very traditional and even Florence Nightingale-ish in its hierarchy. The Doctor and Matron were in charge and we wore frilly hats which served no purpose! Thankfully, the hats wouldn’t be allowed now because of greater focus on infection control, but I still smile at the memory.

“St Luke’s did not have the wider support services we have today, except for admin for the clinical team, some educational provision and a small facilities team. In those days, we had no fundraising team as such but lots of eager volunteers. On the community care side, we worked with Macmillan and Marie Curie nurses – this being the roots of the service we have now, looking after patients at home – but we were yet to have a team at the hospital, something which did not develop until around 15 years later.

“I could always see that St Luke’s was keen to innovate and fluid enough to respond to the changing needs of patients, and when I developed an interest in increasing our provision for our patients with lymphoedema (a chronic condition that causes swelling in the body’s tissues), I was pleased to be encouraged to investigate the best way of doing this.

“Looking outside, and even travelling overseas, to learn about best practice enabled me to build a case for us to go from the massage therapy and bandaging that I already did for our patients, pushing a trolley around the ward, to extending the treatment – which can make such a positive difference to someone’s quality of life – so that it benefitted people at an earlier stage of their illness as well as those who were already inpatients. The funding we secured also helped us provide lymphoedema treatment for people with a non-cancer diagnosis, such as vascular- related oedema. It felt really rewarding to build the Lymphoedema Service from the ground up and develop it into the very busy clinic it became with a team of three.

“One of the best parts of the job was the rapport I developed with the people who came regularly for treatment, but this meant it was also very hard when they died because it does take an emotional toll. After ten years, I felt the time was right for me to step back from giving hands-on care, and this happened to coincide with an opening at St Luke’s for someone with the right experience to lead and grow the education we were already providing to our own staff and district nurses to help them fulfil their clinical competencies.

“The service started with me helping nurses with their clinical skills, such as infection control, tracheostomies and ‘drips and drains’, and grew into a team under the banner of HR. Gradually, links grew with the University, and the first module I developed was a bespoke assessment skills module for our Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) team, which along with other external courses helped to generate income for St Luke’s. When Gail Wilson arrived as Head of Education, she used her expertise and strategic approach to take this to the next level, developing a really innovative service involving a wide range of funded education projects, including education for care homes. About the same time, Liz Lawley joined the Education team, bringing experience of a Six Steps Care Home programme from Cumbria, which we introduced here, adapting it to include education end of life care for people with dementia and learning disabilities.

“Of course, as well as all the changes there have been in the Education team and the service we provide, so many years with St Luke’s means I have witnessed the evolution of the organisation as a whole, observing the way it has flexed to survive in a way that, sadly, some hospices have not been able to.

“I’ve seen connections, collaborations and partnerships grow, and huge expansion in retail and fundraising. What really continues to hearten me though, is our charity’s continued focus on meeting the needs of our patients. I remember the years when we first started looking after patients with non-cancer conditions, such as AIDS, and I have seen younger people needing our care, including those with brain tumours or motor neurone disease.

“While of course there is sadness because of the nature of our service, there is definitely more laughter than tears and, when I look back on my career so far – and the colleagues who have been there along the way – it is definitely with a smile.”

 

Captain Tom 100 invites people all over the world to take on a challenge based around the number 100 to raise funds for charity.

Following the outpouring of heartfelt messages since the death of Captain Sir Tom Moore on 2 February, his family pledged to celebrate his life with an event that everyone, in the UK and around the world, could be involved in. That event is the Captain Tom 100 and St Luke’s is proud to be inviting our supporters to take part.

Captain Tom 100 offers St Luke’s supporters, of all ages and abilities, the opportunity to raise crucial funds for our charity, while at the same time celebrating Captain Tom’s generosity of spirit, the hope and joy he brought to millions, and his sense of fun.

How it works

It’s so simple. All participants need to do is dream up a Captain Tom 100 challenge based around the number 100 and do it at any time and anywhere over Captain Tom’s birthday weekend – starting on Friday 30 April through to Bank Holiday Monday 3 May.

The challenge could be walking 100 steps or running 100 metres, scoring 100 goals, baking 100 cakes, climbing 100 stairs, hopping 100 laps of the garden, building 100 sandcastles, writing a 100-word poem, flipping 100 pancakes – anything at all, inside or out.

Once supporters have chosen their challenge, they can fundraise or donate to St Luke’s, and share their 100 on social media, using #CaptainTom100.

Captain Tom’s daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, said: “We are so grateful for the incredible support we have received since my father started his record-breaking fundraising walk and that his message of hope was shared with the world. Captain Tom was very proud to be able to leave behind the growing legacy of his Foundation. We know he would love the idea of inviting everyone to get involved and share their Captain Tom 100 so that together we can ensure ‘Tomorrow will be a good day’. We look forward to celebrating with you on what would have been his 101st birthday weekend – it’s going to be fun!”

Find out more at CaptainTom100.com.

Image reads we need you in your old st luke's t-shirt. Picture included photos of St Luke's supporters and a St Luke's runner.

We need you to run in your old St Luke’s t-shirt!

You runners do a fantastic job of keeping St Luke’s close to your hearts, and it makes us beam with pride when we see you clocking up the miles sporting our charity’s name across your chest.

This year, we’re inviting you to run Britain’s Ocean City Half, 10km or 5km (5 September) wearing your favourite St Luke’s t-shirt from yesteryear, from Midnight Walk and Tour de Moor to Men’s Day Out. Join in and be part of an active archive of colours and designs that highlight our compassionate care for thousands of local families through the years.

It may be faded or even fraying, but putting it on feels like getting a hug from a much-loved friend. Perhaps the back of your t-shirt is emblazoned with the name of that special person whose life you want to celebrate as you run for us again? We’d love to see you taking part in their memory, and the sponsorship you raise will help us keep our vital service running for the many families in your community who will desperately need us in the months and years to come.

Contact us today to get started!

Image of artist Brian Pollard holding a bright landscape painting. Text reads: Open Gardens, win this painting by Brian Pollard.

Image of artist Brian Pollard holding a bright landscape painting. Text reads: Open Gardens, win this painting by Brian Pollard.

 

A local hospice charity is marking the return of one of its most popular annual fundraising events by inviting people to enter an online competition for the chance to win an original painting by internationally acclaimed, Plymouth-based artist Brian Pollard.

Brian has donated the captivating land and seascape to St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth, of which he is a Patron, to help the charity launch its Open Gardens scheme for this spring and summer, following a hiatus to the event last year because of Covid-19 safety restrictions. The charming image also features on the cover of the flyer promoting the scheme, which sees kind-hearted owners of beautiful gardens across Devon and Cornwall throw open their gates in aid of St Luke’s and its specialist end of life care for local people with terminal illness.

Brian, who works from his Plymouth studio and regularly shares his new work on Instagram, enjoys visiting the gardens each year with his wife Jane. He said: “As a former GP, I know just how needed St Luke’s is and the important difference it makes to local families at a very tough time. The Open Gardens scheme is one of the most enjoyable and inspiring ways people can show their support for the charity and help build its resilience for the future, and I’m delighted to be able to help by donating my painting as a competition prize.

“In it, I chose to highlight the beauty of the South Hams because St Luke’s care extends beyond Plymouth to people living the rural surrounding areas, and the waves on the sea are a reminder of the therapeutic power of the water that surrounds our coast.”

This year’s Open Gardens season gets underway on 18 April with the opening of Lower Coombe Royal, near Kingsbridge, where 8 acres of gardens and woodland await visitors. Next to open, on 21 April, is Weir Cottage near Bere Alston, which was originally owned by gardener and artist Lady Harriet Thiselton-Dyer, wife of the third curator of Kew gardens. This will be followed on 25 April by country house Gnaton Hall, near Yealmpton, where visitors can discover stunning terraced lawns and walled gardens as well as peaceful woodland walks.

With more gardens set to be added to the programme over coming weeks, St Luke’s is also introducing a special event likely to appeal to young families in particular – its first-ever Open Farm, kindly sponsored by NFU Mutual. On 4 August, South Battisborough Farm, on the road to Mothecombe Beach, will welcome visitors in aid of the charity, giving them the opportunity to see a working farm in action, with cows being milked, calves being fed with a maize maze and the opportunity to try their delicious Surfing Cow ice cream.

Also new is St Luke’s online booking system for Open Gardens and Open Farms, which has replaced the pay in-person on the day process of previous years. Tickets, which are £5 per adult, can be purchased here, where there are details of all the locations taking part in this year’s scheme.

Wayne Marshall, St Luke’s Community Fundraiser and Open Gardens Co-ordinator, said: “It’s exciting to be back with another diverse selection of beautiful gardens to inspire and delight visitors, and the addition of our first Open Farm makes this year’s scheme extra special. We’re really grateful to the garden and farm owners for taking part and to the many volunteers who roll up their sleeves to help at each event.

“Our new online booking system is easy to access and straightforward to use, and very importantly it means we can manage visitor numbers for each event in a Covid-safe way.

“We can also easily update event information if, for any reason, details change. This is particularly helpful at the moment given the ongoing uncertainty of what may or may not happen as lockdown restrictions ease.

“I want to encourage people to check our website regularly as we will be adding new gardens and farms over the next few weeks and months. It is also on our website that they can enter our exciting competition to win the painting Brian has so kindly donated. We are very grateful to him for his ongoing support for St Luke’s.”

Funds raised from ticket sales and the competition will help St Luke’s continue to give personalised care to terminally ill people in their last months, weeks and days of life, providing crucial emotional support for them and their families, too.