St Luke’s is renowned for going the extra mile for our patients and their families, and we have long been respected for the way we innovate to meet their needs.

Now we are the first hospice in the UK to embrace the new ‘cuddle bed’ that is both helping patients safely receive the care they need and find comfort and solace in the arms of those they hold dear.

At the touch of a button, the special bed, which was installed earlier this month at our specialist unit at Turnchapel, expands from a space-saving single into a comfortable double so a patient can be close to their partner and not separated because of their condition. It also means the young families we support can snuggle up together and enjoy cuddles that are precious beyond words.

Nicola Pereira, Head of Inpatient Nursing Services at St Luke’s, said: “We have always tried to provide the best care we can and go that bit further for the patients we care for. I always imagine a couple who have shared a bed for their entire married life – once one becomes unwell and needs care they have to be nursed in a single bed. What a privilege to be able to offer that couple the opportunity to share a bed once more, and even more special at the end of life.”

This fantastic addition to our specialist unit has been made possible thanks to the kindness of those who keep our charity close to their hearts. We’ll share the inspirational story behind their fundraising later this year and, in the meantime, they’ll know that they’re bringing comfort to other families and helping them make every moment count when time is running short.

Here at St Luke’s, we don’t keep our expertise to ourselves. We share it with others so that more people benefit, and this includes welcoming placement students keen to gain experience to complement their theoretical knowledge. So, it’s a happy turn of events when a student shines during their time with us and then the right opportunity subsequently opens up for them to apply for a position as part of our paid staff.

Such was the case for St Luke’s Bereavement Support Worker, Sue Martin, who joined in April, following Janet Hearl’s retirement.

With more than 25 years’ valuable experience in the health and social care sector in roles ranging from care assistant to registered manager of a nursing home, it was following the death of her husband that Sue decided to follow a new path and study towards becoming a counsellor for her own personal development.

From supporting people with issues around drugs and alcohol to helping those with phobias, there are many different areas of counselling but Sue found herself leaning more towards a role where she could not only draw on her previous professional experience but her own personal experience of loss, too, to make a difference to others.

It was following conversations with Jutta Widlake, Head of Social Care at St Luke’s, that Sue then had the opportunity of a placement with Jutta’s team as part of her Level 4 Diploma in Counselling. Not only did Sue complete the 100 hours necessary to help her get her qualification, what she learned working alongside our Social Care Manager Helen Koffi-Young, Social Workers Carolyn and Danielle and Bereavement Support Worker Andy Searle also meant that when the opportunity arose to apply for a full-time post, she was keen to take it. Sue, who has a daughter and two grandchildren, and lives in Lipson with her cat Eric, said:

“Doing my placement gave me really helpful insight into the work of the team and the huge variety involved in their work across the community, from helping families who might be struggling to care for their loved one to giving bereavement support.

“With that experience under my belt, plus the knowledge and skills I gained from previous work as well as my studies, I felt I would be a good fit for the permanent post and was really delighted to get the job.”

“Things have dovetailed well and I’ve been warmly welcomed into the team. I love the variety involved and being out and about where I’m needed to provide support, whether it’s coming alongside the relative of a patient in their own home or being there for a patient at Turnchapel.

“Although it’s early days and I’m still learning about St Luke’s, shadowing our Community Nurse Specialists and Social Workers has only confirmed to me that I’m part of a really special organisation that means so much to so many people. I’m looking forward to what’s to come.”

This summer, come rain or shine, storybook favourite Elmer the elephant and his chunky chums will be spreading a smile across our great city and Mount Edgecumbe, raising awareness and funds for St Luke’s.

The fun starts on 8 July, when Elmer’s Big Parade is launched and the 40 elephant sculptures – each individually painted by a talented artist, including globally celebrated Plymouth artist, St Luke’s Patron Brian Pollard – come out from under wraps as they’re unveiled for all to enjoy.

With each sculpture sponsored by a local organisation, plus the finale – the auctioning of the elephants in October – this mammoth event will raise funds towards sustaining our vital service.

Crucially, the project is also already helping to open up more open, honest conversations about death, dying and bereavement so that everyone feels listened to, understood and supported.

As part of this, our Education team has been working closely with local schools, recognising the importance of equipping staff with the knowledge, skills and confidence to help children experiencing loss. The ‘mini’ Elmers the schools have had such fun decorating as part of this work will be on display at Mount Edgecumbe for visitors to enjoy as part of the event.

Elmer’s Big Parade is great news for our community in other ways, too. Not only is it set to attract 250,000 visitors to our city, bringing a big boost for all sorts of businesses from shops to restaurants, it will encourage people to get out and about on foot,

enhancing their well-being as they discover parts of our city they may not have previously seen.

Please share the news of Elmer’s Big Parade with family and friends – it’s a great way to spend time together and create special memories this summer. Be sure to engage with the social media, too, as it spreads the news about 40 trunks and tails and the difference they’re making for such a fantastic cause.

For more information on the trail visit Elmer’s official website at www.elmerplymouth.co.uk

We’re proud that our popular Midnight Walk is the city’s favourite girls’ night out, with both a faithful following taking part year on year and new additions each time the event comes around.

Personal experience of terminal illness affecting loved ones, coupled with the desire to make a difference through a career in healthcare, have combined to lead a young student to St Luke’s, where she’s become a familiar face at our specialist unit at Turnchapel.

The students from Plymouth College of Art have been busy styling the wide range of elegant, great-value wedding dresses, some secondhand and some ex-display gowns, showing that you don’t have to spend a fortune to look a million dollars on your big day.

Recently, our very own Patron, celebrated local artist Brian Pollard, paid a visit to Boringdon Primary School in Plymouth, accompanied by his hand-painted Elmer, one of the highlights of this summer’s trail. In his trademark uplifting style, Brian spent time talking with the children as part of their school assembly around death and dying.

It’s fun to play, has a vital role in supporting our expert care and this June it’s celebrating 25 years, so raise a cheer to the St Luke’s weekly lottery and the difference it helps us make across the community!

We recently won the Employer of the Year category at the Plymouth Business Awards.

Drum roll, please… He’s done it! Not only has Plymouth man Cuz Cussen reached his target of raising an incredible £100,000 for St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth, he’s smashed it, pulling £100,563 – a Titan of a total for the much-loved local charity that cared so compassionately for his mum, Dot, before she passed away from cancer in 2008.