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Light up a Life - Angie's Story

Light up a Life – Angie’s story

St Luke’s supporter Angie shares her story about her Dad, Clive, and how important St Luke’s was to her family…

“St Luke’s looked after my Dad, Clive, wonderfully at the end of his life 30 years ago, and I don’t know how our family would have coped without them.

“Dad was such a lovely man, very easy-going and jolly. He was an electrician and when he went self-employed, I did his typing for him, which meant we were together more and grew even closer. I have fond memories of the caravanning holidays we used to have, too – Mum, Dad and me and my siblings, Julie, Paul and Carol, all together.

“When Dad became short of breath doing simple things, we insisted he went for tests. When they revealed he had asbestosis it was devastating because it’s so serious and there’s no known cure.

“Seeing his condition deteriorate was really tough, and it was harder still when he became so poorly that he needed end of life care. There were such mixed emotions for our family because this was all happening while I was pregnant and me and my husband Colin were excited to be having our first child.

“Everyone was so friendly, his room had beautiful views”

“Hearing the word ‘hospice’ felt frightening. You can’t help imagining a depressing place, but to our relief St Luke’s specialist unit wasn’t like that at all. It was shortly before Christmas when Dad went in, and straight away, we knew he was in safe hands. Everyone was so friendly, his room had beautiful views and mum could stay by his side.

“St Luke’s were so kind and when Christmas Day came, they arranged for Dad to be at home with us for a couple of hours. He was very weak by then and stayed on the sofa, but it meant the world to him – and the whole family – that we could have that last Christmas together. It was the best gift we could have received.

“Just a week later, I went into labour and Mum accompanied me to the hospital – and, after I’d given birth, she raced back to Dad to tell him the happy news.

“Sadly, it was just a few hours later that Dad died and though it was heart-breaking that he never got to meet our new arrival, it has always comforted me that he lived long enough to hear the wonderful news of his birth.

“I’ll never forget the special man my Dad was, and the way St Luke’s helped us all at such a difficult time.”

“I’ll never forget the special man my Dad was, and the way St Luke’s helped us all at such a difficult time. Colin and I decided to call our son Luke, partly because the name couldn’t be shortened but also because I think, subliminally, I associated the name with the great kindness our family received from the hospice team.

“Luke is 30 now, doing well in his career and about to get married. I know Dad and Mum, who died just 18 months after him, would be so proud of Luke and our other children Jake and Tillie. We keep their grandparents’ memory alive, and we do whatever we can to support St Luke’s to say thank-you for making such an important difference.”

Were you touched by Angie’s story? During the festive season, we reach out to the families of our patients, allowing them to tell their stories of care at St Luke’s to people like you. If you’d like to help us continue to deliver our compassionate care, please consider donating to our Light up a Life campaign.

volunteering for 30 years

volunteering for three decades

Recognising three decades of volunteering dedication

“It doesn’t seem that long – I can’t quite believe it!”

They say time flies when you’re enjoying yourself and that is just how Saltash charity shop volunteer Jackie Taylor feels about clocking up an incredible 30 years as part of the store’s hardworking team.

Jackie, who is 80, lives in the town with her husband and has four children and nine grandchildren. Explaining what drew her to volunteer with our charity after moving to Saltash from London, she said: “I had a breast cancer scare and although I turned out to be okay, it got me thinking that one day I might be one of the ones who needs St Luke’s. Also, I’d worked as a nurse in London so there was an affinity there as well.

“I always look forward to my two mornings a week at the shop. I’m happy doing whatever is needed, whether it’s being on the till, steaming clothes and tagging them, or doing the dusting.

“It’s great being part of such a super team.”

“Hayley is a lovely manager, and it’s great being part of such a super team with people who are all so dedicated. I love meeting the customers, too. It’s never about hard selling – they’re there because they want to be, and I enjoy chatting with them as they browse around.

“Of course, being a volunteer all this time I’ve seen lots of changes, including the shop moving from the bottom of the town to the top and back again. What has stayed the same though, is the compassion St Luke’s has for everyone who needs them. It feels good to contribute to a charity that makes such an important difference in the community.”

As part of recognising Jackie’s special milestone, Saltash Shop Manager Hayley Pollard put on a celebratory tea, with Head of Retail Mike Picken and Retail Area Manager John Saunders calling in to say a special thank-you, too.

Hayley said: “Making sure the shop runs smoothly is a real team effort and we couldn’t do it without our volunteers who so kindly give their time and skills. I started as a volunteer myself – on the same day as Jackie in fact, so we’ve known each other a very long time. She’s committed and focussed, and nothing is too much trouble. I can only describe her as a complete superstar!”

Thank you, Jackie, for everything you do for our charity – it is so appreciated.

40 for 40

furniture collection with compassion

Furniture collection with compassion

For our friendly team of drivers who carry out furniture collection from people’s homes so it can be sold in our charity shops, it’s a job that involves more than the muscle they use to do the heavy lifting.

With six years’ service, Mark Stansbury is the longest-serving van driver in the collection team covering Plymouth, South West Devon and East Cornwall. During that time he has visited hundreds of homes across these areas, picking up furniture from people not only keen to clear space in their houses but to support local hospice care, too.

“I often hear anecdotes that highlight the great compassion and respect St Luke’s has for everyone in their care.”

One of seven drivers in the team, he said: “Not everyone we collect from has had personal experience of St Luke’s, but many have. It is always heart-warming when they share their memories of a family member or friend looked after by the hospice team, and I often hear anecdotes that highlight the great compassion and respect St Luke’s has for everyone in their care.

“Sometimes – particularly if the person has recently been bereaved – you can see them struggling emotionally. I’m prepared for that and mindful that the items they’re donating might have belonged to the person who has died.

“Recently, my colleague Bob and I made a call to a man in Ivybridge. Straight away, I could see he was upset, and when he explained that his mother had died just a few days before and that he had the difficult job of clearing out her house before the owner wanted it back, my heart went out to him.

“I listened as he spoke very movingly about his mum and how well she had been looked after by St Luke’s, first at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust and then at home, where she passed away. We had a bit of general chat, too, and by the time we left him, I could see his spirits lifting.

“The aftercare our charity provides is there to make sure people who are grieving have the listening ear and emotional support they need.”

“I didn’t want to leave it there, though, because it was obvious he was going through a very difficult time. The aftercare our charity provides is there to make sure people who are grieving have the listening ear and emotional support they need. So, I spoke about it with my manager Becky Lugg and with Retail Area Manager John Saunders and we were able to arrange for a colleague from St Luke’s Social Care team to get in touch with him.

“It felt good knowing I’d helped, not only in a practical way by collecting the furniture but by showing him some kindness and reminding him that he wasn’t alone.”

St Luke’s furniture collection service is available between 9am and 4pm, Tuesday to Saturday. Click here for booking details.

 

Tour de Moor Blog Header

Tour de Moor Blog HeaderCyclists unite for St Luke’s Tour de Moor

Community-spirited cyclists braved the wilds of Dartmoor at the weekend, raising much-needed funds to support local hospice care that makes an important difference to families affected by terminal illness.

After putting on the brakes last year because of the pandemic, the Tour de Moor biking challenge in aid of St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth made its return on Sunday 10 October, attracting more than 1,400 participants, which exceeds the total in 2019. The popular, annual family-friendly event, sponsored by Print Copy Scan, a local supplier of printers and copiers, saw cyclists take on their choice of an adrenalin-packed, hill-filled, 52km mixed terrain route; a tough 30km ride over hills and through woods, or a more gentle 11km ride along the tarmac paths of Drake’s Trail.

Not only does Tour de Moor provide for every level of cycling ability, the money it raises means our highly skilled teams can be there for more families, providing expert medical care as well as vital emotional, practical and spiritual support.

Among the cyclists taking on the mud, sweat and gears of this year’s Tour de Moor were those doing so in memory of their lost loved ones.

One of the brave 945 people doing the demanding 52km route, in which cyclists tackle the notorious Widowmaker hill not once but twice, was Lydia from Peverell, participating in tribute to her much-loved nanny, Margot. St Luke’s looked after Margot at home eight years ago before sadly, she died.

“It feels important to give back to St Luke’s.”

Tackling Tour de Moor with brother Conor and friends, Lydia said: “This is the first time I’ve done the event and although I’ve been down the Widowmaker before, I have never been up it! It’s a tough challenge but it feels important to give back to St Luke’s because they were just so wonderful in the way they looked after Nanny, making her comfortable at home.

“She was an amazing lady and so very caring. Losing her hit me really hard and I’m grateful that St Luke’s were there for me, too, with a listening ear when I needed support.”

Also doing the 52km route for the first time was Lesley, from St Budeaux. She said: “I wanted to join in because of the difference St Luke’s made when my Auntie Lena needed their care back in 2007. It is very peaceful at Turnchapel, and she was looked after with such compassion – nothing was ever too much trouble.

“I miss my auntie a lot. She was an incredibly positive person, including throughout her illness, and always thinking of others. Tour de Moor is my way of saying thank-you to the hospice team for caring for her so well.”

“I can’t speak highly enough of St Luke’s.”

Making Tour de Moor a family affair was Ian, from Plympton, taking part in the 30km challenge with son Oliver, aged 9. The duo was doing the event in memory of Ian’s aunt, Gill, who died of cancer last year. She was looked after by St Luke’s at home before she passed away.

Ian said: “As a former Wren, my auntie had that military spirit and was very bubbly and outgoing. It comforts me that she was able to accomplish the things on her bucket list before she died, and also that she received the very best of care from St Luke’s.

“Oliver remembers her fondly too, so doing Tour de Moor together is very special. He can’t wait to take on the extra tough 52km in a few years’ time! It’s good to know that the money we raise will help more local families affected by cancer and other terminal illnesses. I can’t speak highly enough of St Luke’s and the important work they do.”

“What an amazing day!”

St Luke’s Events Lead Georgina Mayhew said: “What an amazing day! Tour de Moor is always a fantastic event but this year felt all the more special as we welcomed cyclists back after last year’s cancellation due to COVID safety measures.

“Our charity relies on the kindness of our community to help us continue looking after local people so they can live well to the end of their lives. Our cyclists did us proud and we are very grateful to them for getting on their bikes for us. Thanks to them, we can be there for more people who need us, ensuring they get the best possible care and support at the end of their lives.

“We’re already excited to be planning Tour de Moor 2022 because it is set to be one of the highlights of St Luke’s 40th anniversary year!”

We would like to thank Print Copy Scan for their ongoing sponsorship of the annual event, as well as recognise the kindness of Dartmoor National Park and Maristow Estate for the use of their land, Dartmoor Rescue Group, Devon and Cornwall 4×4 Response and Devon and Cornwall Cycle Marshals for their valued support, and the Dewerstone Café for help with facilities.

On any one day, we looks after around 300 people with life-limiting conditions at home – where the majority of patients receive their care – in hospital and at our specialist unit at Turnchapel. Our service covers from Salcombe to East Cornwall via Tavistock and the moors.

Hospice Care Week 2021

Acceptance and understanding bring light to couple in their darkest time

“It was a safe place during a dark time. Somewhere we could be ourselves and spend precious time together.”

When someone is nearing the end of their life, it matters more than ever that they should be with those dearest to them, but – as revealed by research carried out by the Care Quality Commission* – for some LGBTQ+ people with terminal illness the reality is that they encounter discrimination and lack of understanding at a time when they most need acceptance and support. This Hospice Care Week (4 – 8 October), a Plymouth man is sharing his story to demonstrate what high-calibre hospice care looks like when you are part of a gay couple, and the important difference it makes.

When retail manager Pete Richards met accountant Richard Shaw in 2012, their instant connection saw the two quickly become inseparable, moving in together, enjoying holidays in far-flung destinations and relishing time spent with friends and family, including their two young nephews, aged 6 and 4.

The couple’s active lifestyle included regular walks along the coast and in the countryside, plus daily visits to the gym for health-conscious Richard, who Pete describes as ‘the perfect gentleman – always impeccably turned out’.

Then, at Easter 2019, came devastating news that changed everything, when tests revealed that Richard aged 36 had a brain tumour. A gruelling regime of medical treatment followed, including chemotherapy, but could not halt the growth of the tumour and eventually, Richard made the difficult decision not to undergo further treatment.

Pete said: “Our focus was on making things easier, ensuring he was comfortable and being able to enjoy the time we had left together – that’s why getting him into St Luke’s specialist unit at Turnchapel made sense. Not only are the doctors and nurses experts in end of life care, it’s local so it was really easy for me and our family and friends to visit. Rich was such a sociable person and he loved having us all around him.

“It was such a relief to find that the hospice was not at all like the dark place I’d been expecting. There was a feeling of great warmth, and Rich had a lovely big room with spectacular views of the Hoe.

“What really meant so much to us both was that we didn’t have to hide our sexuality. Even though this is the 21st century, I was anxious I might have to pretend to be Richard’s friend instead of his partner, but we were immediately accepted as a couple and received nothing but kindness and support from everyone at St Luke’s. I could lie next to Richard and cuddle him without worrying what anyone was thinking.”

Importantly, too, Turnchapel was a place Richard and Pete felt comfortable for their nephews Charlie and Matthew to visit – not only because of the playroom full of toys and the space for them to run around but because through our Patches scheme, providing bespoke, age-appropriate support for young children facing the loss of someone close. Our Family and Children’s Support Worker Lisa was there to involve the boys in fun activities as well as gently preparing them for the changes they would see in their uncle.

Pete said: “Rich adored watching the boys play and just seeing them be happy, and Lisa was amazing all the way through. She helped Charlie and Matthew process what was happening, and even after Rich died she visited them at home.

“The other staff were really kind, too, wheeling Rich’s bed into the garden on sunny days and making us cups of tea. One nurse in particular, Anca, stood out to me. She would give Rich these hand massages that would put him to sleep. Little touches like that made such a difference.

“Rich was at St Luke’s about four weeks and I’m forever grateful that when he died it was with the people he loved most in the world around him. We were all there, holding his hands.

“Losing my partner, who was such a lovely, lovely guy, has been heart-breaking, but everything St Luke’s did for us made that final chapter a little bit easier. From day one, Rich and I were welcomed, loved and respected by the team just as much as anyone else and that compassion never wavered. They were even there in the church for Rich’s funeral, supporting us.

“Everybody, regardless of background or circumstances, deserves to die with dignity surrounded by those they love and that’s why I feel I owe St Luke’s a debt for helping Rich, me and our family, bringing light to us in our darkest time.”

Want to ensure more families can access our care?

Show your support for nurses like Anca and Lisa by sponsoring a St Luke’s nurse or join Pete in taking on challenges in aid of St Luke’s. Thank you!

*A Different Ending: Addressing Inequalities in End of Life Care 2016

Other useful documents, Hospice UK Equality in hospice and end of life care: challenges and change

What is hospice care?

What is hospice care?

If you have been advised that you need hospice care, it can be an anxious and confusing time. It’s only natural that you’re likely to have lots of questions. That’s why we’ve written this blog to help provide you with some answers.

What is hospice care?

Hospices provide specialist care for people who need their help to continue to live well following diagnosis of a terminal illness, and – when the time comes – to ensure they can die with dignity in the place that’s right for them.

Hospices give not only medical care, including pain management and advice about your condition, but emotional and practical support, too.

Hospice care has no time limit. Some patients may be supported at home by a hospice for many years while still living their day-to-day lives. The service also extends from care at home to those in hospital settings and care homes, as well as to people whose complex symptoms and/or circumstances mean they require extra support in a specialised hospice building.

Central to hospice care is respect and compassion for patients, maintaining their dignity and helping them to fulfil their wishes at end of life, which could include where they wish to die and what they want their funeral to be like.

At St Luke’s, we provide high-calibre medical, emotional, social and practical care and support. This is often referred to as ‘holistic care’ because it is comprehensive, treating the person rather than just focussing their condition. Our package of care includes physiotherapy, occupational therapy, practical advice, bereavement support and much more.

Who is hospice care for?

Hospice care is for anyone with a terminal illness, so not only people with cancer but also those with conditions such as motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, heart failure and Parkinson’s disease, and other life-limiting illnesses.

Hospice staff are experts in handling complex symptoms. They not only look after the elderly but any adult or child who needs them, providing specialist care and support at any stage following a terminal diagnosis, not just close to the very end of life. Here at St Luke’s, we look after adults and also provide specialist support for children of patients.

Hospice care extends to the family of a patient so that they receive the emotional and practical support they need before their loved one dies and then bereavement support following their passing.

Where is hospice care provided?

Hospices aim to keep patients at the centre of decisions surrounding their own end of life care. With this in mind, patients are looked after in the place of their choice.

There are some exceptions where this cannot be facilitated though, due to factors such as complex symptom management or becoming to poorly to travel to a preferred location.

The three main sites for St Luke’s hospice care are at home, at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust (Derriford) and at our specialist unit at Turnchapel.

St Luke’s at home

Most of the care given by St Luke’s is in patients’ own homes because we understand how much it means to people to remain in their familiar surroundings close to loved ones, including pets.

Our community team communicates with patients to arrange regular visits and catch-ups to review how the patient is feeling and determine any additional support required. They are also at the end of the phone for any queries or concerns. Our Urgent Care Service steps in outside of these times to ensure patients remain free of any discomfort or pain and to avoid any avoidable re-admissions to hospital.

St Luke’s at Derriford

Some hospices, including ours, have hospice teams based at their local hospital for patients who have been admitted and are approaching end of life.

Working alongside the hospital doctors and nurses, they offer specialist advice on complex symptoms and provide emotional support for patients, their family and carers. The team is also heavily involved in delivering education in end of life care to nursing and medical staff across the hospital.

The team ensures a patient’s care is well co-ordinated and that they have access to all the information and advice they need, during or after treatment.

Our specialist unit

There are many reasons that a patient could be admitted to our inpatient unit at Turnchapel. It could be the person’s preferred place of death or it could be because of the need for intensive support for complex symptom management. Not all patients are easily cared for in their home so a hospice building may be the most suitable place of care.

Some patients are brought into our specialist unit for a short period. It can be the best place to monitor how they are, amend their medications and manage pain before we discharge them to go home with the appropriate support. It is also a place where patients’ friends and family can spend time with them, making the most of the time they have left together.

Getting in touch

Whenever you need St Luke’s, we are here for you, ready to listen and get to know you so that we can give you and your loved ones the best possible care and support.

Contact us here.

Treasured memories of a big-hearted mum and grandmother are inspiring four females from the same Plymouth family to step out together in support of St Luke’s after we gave her such compassionate care at the end of her life.

Louise Pudner and her daughters Chloe, 25, Megan, 22, and Laura, 16, have all signed up to take part in this summer’s Midnight Walk, the annual mass-participation event raising vital funds for St Luke’s and the specialist service we provides for terminally ill people at home, in hospital and at our specialist unit at Turnchapel.

With the ladies’ walk making its comeback on Friday 20 August after it had to be cancelled last year because of the pandemic, the foursome is taking up the opportunity to stride the streets, paying tribute to Louise’s mother Mary Mannell, who was looked after at Turnchapel as she neared the end of her life.

Sadly, Mary died in 2011 but memories of the special person she was, and the huge love and affection she gave her four children, plus the 15 grandchildren born while she was alive, are cherished by her family.

Louise, who lives in Southway, said: “Mum was such a caring person and is sorely missed by us all. Growing up, she was always there for us and when her grandchildren came along she devoted herself to them, too.

“When she was ill it was a very difficult time, and our whole family is so grateful to St Luke’s for being there for her and us as well. It wasn’t just the excellent medical care they gave mum that made a difference, but the way they always accommodated our visits – day or night – making all of us, including the children, feel welcome and at ease.

“I’ll always remember spending precious time with mum in the gardens at Turnchapel, taking in the beautiful views over the water. That meant a lot to her because she and dad always loved the sea.”

Sponsored by GA Solicitors, Midnight Walk will see hundreds of women coming together to support St Luke’s. Just like Louise and her daughters, many will be going the distance in memory of lost loved ones, celebrating their lives while making new memories. All are welcome, regardless of whether we were involved in the care of your relative or friend.

The event starts and finishes at Plymouth Argyle’s Home Park Stadium, with ladies completing a 5, 10 or 15-mile route across the city.

Louise, who along with Chloe, Megan and Laura is taking on the 15-mile route, said: “Walking together is something we are really looking forward to. We’ll be remembering both mum and my dad, who sadly also died from cancer.

“It’s our way of saying thank-you to St Luke’s, not only for care given in the past but right now, too, looking after people who are special to our family. It’s a charity that touches so many lives and we must never take it for granted.”

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

If you would like to sponsor the Pudner ladies, please visit their Just Giving page.

Inspired by memories of her beautiful mother who was cared for so compassionately by St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth, our charity’s very own Finance Director is set to take a million steps to raise vital funds that will help other local families affected by terminal illness.

Sue Cannon, who joined the senior leadership team at the hospice just over three years ago, is taking on the walking challenge with her sister, Carol Giles. Starting on 1 July, they’ll be clocking up at least 11,000 steps each a day to make sure they reach their target of a million steps each by 30 September.

The sponsorship they raise along the way will go towards the specialist care and support St Luke’s provides 365 days a year for patients at home, in hospital and at our specialist unit at Turnchapel.

Sue and Carol’s mother Christine was looked after by the hospice team at home and at Turnchapel before sadly, she died in 2002.

Sue said: “I’ve had the privilege of working at St Luke’s for over three years now and in my role I see first hand how the efforts of all our supporters help pay for the care our charity gives free of charge to those who need it. I decided it was time to do my bit!

“For Carol and me, taking on this walking challenge is also a way of saying thank you to St Luke’s for being a beacon of light for our family. Our dear mum died far too young at just 55. It was an incredibly difficult time, but the team was so kind, helping dad and us to deal with some of the day-to-day challenges you don’t expect. The practical support and advice we received in addition to the specialist care they gave mum at home and at Turnchapel made such a difference.

“I am especially proud that as well as Finance, Facilities and IT, I am also responsible for the Catering department at the hospice, as this brings back really special memories – the simple joy that our mum got from hearing the tinkle of the drinks trolley and the wonderful home-cooked food she enjoyed.

“Thank you, St Luke’s, for caring for our mum with such warmth and compassion…. Let the steps begin!”

Sue is aiming to raise £1,000 to provide a full package of care, emotional support and practical advice for a family at home – see here.

This is your chance to explore the exciting and historic Drake’s Island, set in the beautiful surroundings of Plymouth Sound. We’ve also received word that recently discovered secrets have been revealed.

During it’s fascinating history, the Island – which was born out of the sea 400 million years ago – has been a place of pilgrimage, a refuge, a fort, a prison and an observatory, while local people of a certain age are most likely to remember it as an adventure centre in the 1960s and 70s.

With the site being out of bounds to the general public since 1989, it is a place many long to visit so they can discover its secrets and learn about its past. Those lucky enough to snap up one of the places to visit the historic location will get the opportunity to do just that as they get the lowdown from the Island’s Warden, avid historian Bob King, who will lead the tour.

Bob said: “The best part of my job is researching the history of the Island and sharing it with as many people as possible. Although the fortifications and how they have been used and defended Plymouth over the centuries is fascinating, what brings the history alive are the personal stories of the people on the Island.

“I am really excited to have the chance to take people in Drake’s footsteps and help them discover the Island and its past.”

This promises to be a fascinating journey into Drake’s Island’s story through the ages. The trip includes:

  • Boat journey to and from the Island.
  • Guided tour of Drake’s Island, by an experienced historian.
  • Opportunity to explore the labyrinth of hidden underground tunnels.
  • Exquisite photo opportunities.
  • Wildlife engagement: Seals, herons and egrets are regularly spotted from the island, so keep your eyes peeled!
  • Unique views of Plymouth and Cornwall.

This adventure could make a memorable gift to someone, or simply a very special way to raise funds for St Luke’s. All ticket sales will go directly to St Luke’s (except a small booking fee, which you will be asked to cover on registration).

Click here to book your tickets.

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