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Celebrating our tenth anniversary, we have presented the public with some beautiful gardens this year as part of our Open Gardens scheme.

As the season comes to a close, we are pulling out all the stops this Sunday for one final garden before we say goodbye to the summer sun. Bowringsleigh Gardens near Kingsbridge is set in ten acres of private established gardens hidden in a peaceful valley of outstanding natural beauty. The gardens are home to a stunning collection of hydrangeas, and many rare trees are to be found in the two large arboretums which are best viewed in September as the leaves turn colour.

Open Gardens Coordinator at St Luke’s, Wayne Marshall, said: “At this time of year the garden is full of colour with plants that are rare to come by. This is great opportunity to explore not only the gorgeous gardens, but also see the house that looks over the gardens is a 15th century listed building with a rich and significant history. This is an enjoyable and inspiring way for our supporters to raise vital funds for our free unique and compassionate care that is provided to patients and their families at home, at Derriford and at our specialist unit at Turnchapel.”

Refreshments and plant sales are available. There’s also a chance to enter the Open Gardens annual raffle to win a framed original canvas of our brochure cover by local artist, Brian Pollard.

Bowringsleigh Garden will be open on Sunday 15 September between 2pm and 5pm. Admission costs just £5. Parking is available and wheelchair and pushchair access is available although limited in some areas. The garden is located at Bowringsleigh, Kingsbridge, Devon TQ7 3LL. Following the orange arrows from Bantham Cross towards Salcombe. www.stlukes-hospice.org.uk/opengardens

It’s a wrap! Elmer’s Big Parade – Devon’s biggest public art event of 2019 – is coming to an end, but the mammoth mob is not going quietly. In fact, there’s an ele-fantastic Farewell Weekend in store for the whole family to enjoy.

Having spread a huge smile across iconic locations in Plymouth for ten weeks this summer, the sculpture trail featuring 40 colourful, individually painted elephants – each sponsored by a local business – is set for a big ‘farewell’ celebration before trunks are packed and the elephants prepare to be auctioned off in aid of St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth.

From Friday 4 to Sunday 6 October, Herd HQ in the former Toys R Us building at Western Approach will throw open its doors to welcome people keen to see the hefty herd all together under one roof, where they can get a close-up look at the unique designs created by talented artists, including internationally renowned painter Brian Pollard.

Not only will they see the fabulous 40 who’ve enchanted the tens of thousands of visitors out on foot around Plymouth, they’ll also meet the 25 marvellous mini Elmers painted by children at local schools where St Luke’s works together with staff as part of its Compassionate Schools programme, which tackles the taboo topics of death, dying and life-limiting illness in an age-appropriate way and enhances support for bereaved children.

The event – which is ticketed – is a great opportunity for those who may not have had the chance to follow the trail, or those who want to see their favourite sculptures again. It’s also a chance for those who’ve already seen the stunning designs to invite family and friends to visit the city and share the fun experience with them.

Adrian Carey, Project Manager for Elmer’s Big Parade, said: “We have been blown away by the success of Elmer’s Big Parade, which has been one of the most popular trails the city has ever seen.

“Seeing so many families out discovering the sculptures has been heart-warming and we’re pleased to have provided them with a free, fun activity that also highlighted the vital end of life care St Luke’s provides. Our Farewell Weekend is an exciting opportunity to see all the sculptures together, take photographs and – if they’d like – snap up Elmer merchandise. We look forward to welcoming them to Herd HQ!”

With demand for places expected to be high, everyone who purchases a ticket will be allocated a one-hour session at Herd HQ. Tickets are priced £5 each for adults and £3 for under-16s, with free entry for children under two. Opening times are: Friday 4 October: 12 – 7pm, Saturday 5 October: 9am – 7pm, and Sunday 6 October: 9am – 4pm. The first session of each day is reserved for families of children and adults with autism or related conditions who might require more comfort. This ‘quiet session’ will feature subdued lighting and low music and have minimal noise. These times are restricted to 100 people and may also suit wheelchair users.

To find out more about the Farewell Weekend, please visit the Elmer’s Big Parade website.

Purchase your tickets here.

One of Plymouth’s most loved charities is offering you the opportunity to take home your very own Elmer the Elephant while supporting the vital care the service provides across the community.

Tens of thousands of you have had loads of fun this summer, discovering the 65 individually painted, enchanting elephant sculptures in Elmer’s Big Parade as you’ve followed the trail across iconic locations in our city and Mount Edgcumbe. And – as well as providing a free, fun day out – the herd has been on an important mission, highlighting the specialist work of St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth, which cares for people with life limiting illnesses and supports the loved ones around them.

Before the stunning pieces of art go under the hammer at the Grand Charity Auction on 9 October, to raise vital funds for the charity, there’s a chance to win your very own ‘Young Elmer’!

The sculpture you can scoop in the raffle in aid of St Luke’s is very special, having been painted in the design of the classic Elmer the Patchwork Elephant by talented local illustrator Dave Smith. Dave’s work has featured in the well-loved ‘Horrible Histories’ franchise, and he is also the artist behind the Elmer’s Big Parade sculpture ‘Britain’s Ocean City’, which is sponsored by Fairway Furniture and situated on the green at the Royal William Yard.

This fantastic raffle prize is varnished with high-quality glaze which makes it suitable for both indoor and outdoor life. Standing approximately 70cm high, it is the same size as the ‘Young Elmers’ painted by local schools that have been on their very own education trail at Mount Edgecumbe. These mini marvels will be returning to the schools as a legacy for their involvement with Elmer’s Big Parade Plymouth and a tool for St Luke’s to continue to work alongside teaching staff as part of the ‘compassionate schools’ programme, which tackles the taboo topics of death, dying and life limiting illness in an age-appropriate way.

Raffle tickets are on sale at all St Luke’s charity shops and other locations such as Fairway Furniture in Plymouth and Tavistock, priced £1 each. The funds raised will help the charity continue the specialist care it provides for patients at home, in hospital and at its specialist unit at Turnchapel.

St Luke’s Adrian Carey, Project Manager for Elmer’s Big Parade, said: “This is a prize money just can’t buy and a unique memento of Elmer’s Big Parade, which has delighted so many people this summer while raising awareness of the vital care St Luke’s provides. Not only has it been colourfully painted by popular and talented artist Dave Smith, it will continue to bring delight long after our other elephants have packed their trunks and headed off to their new homes.”

For more information on Elmer’s Big Parade and events, please visit www.elmerplymouth.co.uk.

Elmer’s Big Parade Plymouth is kindly sponsored by Stagecoach South West.

Compassion is at the heart of the service that we provide at St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth. This is no different for our newly appointed Community Network Co-ordinator, Robyn Newport. For more than six months, Robyn has been out and about in the town, getting to know local business owners, voluntary groups and healthcare services to get more insight into what matters to them when it comes to living with terminal illness, looking after someone with it, and dealing with loss.

These conversations have helped shape the Compassionate End of Life Care Community that’s now established in the town, which – being in a rural area – is all the more needed since residents can find it harder to access services of all kinds, including the expert care that’s so vital when your time is running short.

Robyn said: “We are committed to coming alongside the communities we serve to realise the potential of informal networks and develop more effective ways to provide compassionate carer support and choice for people at end of life, so they can die in familiar surroundings with those they love.

“It’s a real privilege getting to know so many people, and it’s clear there’s so much care and compassion within Kingsbridge and the surrounding area. We now have 72 Compassionate Friends across the town – these are people who lend a helping hand or friendly ear to friends and neighbours who have a life limiting illness or are affected by loss.

“Our Compassionate Friends have spoken openly and honestly, helping to break down the taboos around death, dying and bereavement, and bust the unhelpful myths that surround them. They’ve thought about how they can have more compassionate conversations within their own circles and have seen first-hand how listening and doing small things to help people at times of crisis or loss can make such a huge difference.”

We would like to thank everyone in Kingsbridge who took part in Dying Matters Week earlier this year – you can see a review here.

Robyn is also encouraging more local people to get in touch. She said: “I’m keen to hear from those who caring for someone or have lost someone close to them. Those who might be needing extra support and would perhaps like someone to talk to.”

You can contact Robyn by e-mail or by phone on 01752 964250.

Looking to the next six months, Robyn is aiming to increase the number of Compassionate Friends, Champions and Co-ordinators in the area. She’s also looking forward to working with primary and secondary schools and local hospital teams to realise the potential of informal networks, developing more effective ways to provide compassionate support that helps ensure no-one in need feels isolated or overlooked.