From bringing out the baking trays to sporting Santa hats, fundraising in the run-up to Christmas can be a lot of fun, so St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth is encouraging local businesses, schools and community groups to get festive on Fridays to help support its vital end of life care.

St Luke’s compassionate specialist team cares for patients 365 days a year and the Christmas period is no different. Over the Christmas week, more than 300 patients will be looked after by the charity’s staff at home, in hospital and at the specialist unit at Turnchapel. The team will also be there supporting patients’ families, and helping them create special memories with their loved one during this special time.

The money raised through Festive Fridays helps ensure this vital care and support continues, and fundraising ideas can be as simple as running a Christmas quiz or a competition to judge the best decoration for the top of the office tree, or donating a small percentage from customers’ bills.

Pete Ward, Community Fundraiser at St Luke’s, said: “Big or small, we love seeing the creative ways people raise money for St Luke’s, and every penny helps make a difference to our patients and their families.

“Whether a school’s cake sale raises £22 for an hour of a nurse’s care or a large business brings in £206 to fund an urgent visit to a patient at home, Festive Friday is a brilliant way to get together and give something back to your community at this special time of year.”

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For many, Christmas is about making happy memories with family and friends, but if you’ve lost a loved one you sometimes miss them even more during the festivities, and this time of year can feel particularly challenging.

As part of its annual Light up a Life campaign, St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth is offering people the opportunity to celebrate the life of a special person no longer with them by dedicating a light on the display that will adorn its specialist unit at Turnchapel this December. Both this and the chance to dedicate a bauble on the charity’s Christmas tree at the unit are available to anyone, regardless of whether their loved one received St Luke’s end of life care.

Light is symbolic of hope in the midst of difficult circumstances, and the lights on the outside of the unit and baubles on the tree in ‘The View’ conservatory at Turnchapel will shine for patients and their families to enjoy this Christmas period.

St Luke’s is also inviting those who’ve lost someone close to join with others in similar circumstances at its uplifting Light up a Life services in December.

These joyous services are taking place at churches across the area. This year’s programme starts with a service at Saltash Wesley Methodist Church on Wednesday 5 December, at 7pm, and is followed by services at Tavistock St Eustachius Church on Thursday 6 December, at 7pm, and the Minster of St Andrew’s, Plymouth, on Tuesday 18 December, at 2pm, 5.30pm and 7.30pm.

Those wishing to attend do not need to register or have tickets. There is the opportunity to give voluntary donations on the day.

As is annual tradition, hospice volunteers and keen runners will carry a lit torch all the way from St Luke’s specialist unit at Turnchapel to the Minster of St Andrew’s to light the large candles inside, which are in turn used to light smaller candles held by the congregation.

Rebecca Kelly, Events Fundraiser at St Luke’s, said: “While Christmas is a special time, we know it can often be tinged with sadness when you’ve lost someone dear. It’s traditional for St Luke’s to help people who want to celebrate the life of a lost loved one, and dedicating a light or a bauble are lovely ways to do that and also make a difference to those who need our specialist care.

“In addition, our beautiful Light up a Life services are an opportunity for people who’ve lost loved ones to come together to reflect, celebrate those lives and share their memories.”

It is estimated that over the Christmas week, around 350 patients will be receiving specialist end of life care from St Luke’s as part of the 3,531 patients they treat each year. Donations from the community raised by these and other events support terminally ill people wherever they wish to be cared for – in their homes, at Derriford Hospital or at Turnchapel.

Light up a Life is kindly sponsored by Western Power Distribution.

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.