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.”

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, events@stlukes-hospice.org.uk, call 01752 492626 or drop us a DM on social media.

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.

 

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?

 

Our staff and volunteers are at the heart of St Luke’s, they work in an environment some may find challenging, to ensure everybody in our community has the support and compassionate care they need when facing a terminal illness.

With Plymouth basking in the Summer heatwave, our senior managers took time out to say thank you to the staff and volunteers with a welcome ice cream supplied by our generous friends Morrisons, Plymstock, Plymouth.

We may be a bit bias, but we think St Luke’s is a great place to work. Learn more about our latest vacancies.

St Luke’s annual Neon Midnight Walk took place on Saturday. Once again hundreds of ladies in brightly coloured neon gear and lots of sparkle got together with their friends for the city’s favourite girls’ night out, all in aid of the hospice and the care they give across the community.

Many walked in memory of loved ones, celebrating their lives while making fun new memories. With the party atmosphere and plenty of laughter along the way, it certainly was a night to remember!

3, 6 and 13 mile routes, offered a choice of challenges for all abilities. 13 miles in her sights, Antonia from Tavistock said, “St Luke’s helped care for my mum when she was really poorly. Mum wanted to be at home, so it was great that the hospice could come to us in Tavi. Tonight was for mum and such a worthwhile cause”

The route also took the ladies on a tour of many of the city’s landmarks, including Smeaton’s Tower and the Barbican, with many of the 170 volunteers out on route to keep the ladies safe.

When the challenge got tough, morale support came in abundance from spectators cheering from their front gardens along with a toot from passing cars. Gill from Tamerton Foliot said, “Everybody is in such good spirit and the support out on the route is incredible, particularly when it’s late and you’re near the end and you really need that friendly face to give you a clap and cheer, it’s a real motivator”

Nicky Hoff from Plymstock said, “Four years ago my husband was diagnosed with cancer and a year ago he came into the incredible care of St Luke’s. Very sadly he passed away back in October. Tonight, you look around, it is so colourful, a good atmosphere and a real buzz. It is unbelievable really, how many families St Luke’s has reached out to.”

Claire from Callington added, “If someone has gone, it doesn’t mean you have to be sad about it. There is always a light to remember them by and tonight is a great way to have a bit of fun, remember the good times and raise money for a great cause”.

A quick pit stop for the 13 milers in Costa Coffee at Marsh Mills for a welcomed hot chocolate, the routes united for the final mile with a celebratory glass of pink fizz at a mobile bar outside the Citadel.

Medal in hand, and the overwhelming sense of achievement, all that remained was to rest and enjoy a well-deserved post walk breakfast.

Head of Fundraising at St Luke’s, Penny Hannah said: “What an atmosphere! A heartfelt thank you to all the ladies who came out to support St Luke’s tonight, you are all incredible. You only have to look at the messages on the back of t-shirts to appreciate the positive impact St Luke’s has had on local families in need at a time of crisis.

We are hoping tonight will raise in the region of £170,000, enough to provide a complete package of care at home for 170 families not just in Plymouth, but in the South Hams and across Dartmoor. £60,000 has already been donated online, and I encourage anyone who has pledged sponsorship to send it in as soon as possible, so we can put it to work and help even more people in our community.

I would like to thank not only the ladies for taking part, but the people who make an event of this size possible. The army of 170 volunteers, our sponsors Nash & Co Solicitors, Cheezi Fit Plymouth for the fantastic warm-up routine, PL1 Events, Devon and Cornwall 4×4 Response Team, Devon and Cornwall Cycle Marshalls, Drake Circus and all the businesses that have donated products and services, we simply couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you.”

Since Midnight Walk first began in 2007, the event has raised a staggering £1,902,000 for hospice care, powered by a caring community who have walked a total 216,591 miles – equivalent to walking around earth, eight and half times.

View chip times and register your interest for Midnight Walk 2019