A Kingsbridge man, passionate about protecting the specialist service that ensures local people with terminal illness receive the high-quality care they need – and deserve – at the end of their lives, has taken up a new voluntary role with the charity carrying out this vital work.

Colin Pincombe has recently been appointed Impact Volunteer Partner with St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth. He is now sending out a rallying call to all like-minded people in the South Hams, asking them to join him in giving some of their spare time to help revitalise local recognition for the charity and build its resilience for the years to come.

Colin has had a long career in business, chairing NHS Trusts and, more recently, as a Trustee of Rowcroft Hospice. He is currently Chair of South Hams Hospital League of Friends.

St Luke’s is committed to caring for patients in the place that’s right for them, which for many is in the comfort of their own homes. Not only does this enable them to stay close to their loved ones, it reduces the need for them to travel into Plymouth for hospital treatment. This is of even greater importance for people living in isolated rural areas, where accessing all kinds of services can be more difficult. St Luke’s covers the whole of the South Hams district except Chillington to Dartmouth, which is served by Rowcroft Hospice.

While the hospice gives tailored care and support to patients and their families at no cost to those who receive it, this service does not come cheap to the charity. With people living longer and with more complex conditions, referrals are growing year on year, which increases pressure on its limited resources.

As an independent charity, St Luke’s relies on donations and fundraising from the communities it serves so that no-one who needs expert, compassionate care at the end of their life has to miss out. The pandemic has meant a particularly uncertain year for the hospice, with its income impacted by the temporary closure of its charity shops as well as the postponement of its mass participation events, such as Midnight Walk, until safer times.

Speaking about his new voluntary role with St Luke’s, Colin said: “The economic climate is only going to get tougher for everyone, including charities, so if we want to have the assurance that St Luke’s can continue serving our communities in the years ahead, now is the time for us to take action and show our support.

“That’s why I’m asking fellow South Hams residents from all walks of life to join me in spreading awareness of St Luke’s in our local area with a view to raising funds and recruiting volunteers to ensure the sustainability of the charity. I believe that together, we can make an important difference for our community.”

Penny Hannah, Head of Fundraising at St Luke’s, said: “Many people naturally associate the name St Luke’s with Plymouth but in fact our team is on the road 365 days a year, including across the South Hams, so that people living and dying with terminal illness know they have not been forgotten.

“I am delighted Colin has joined St Luke’s as Impact Volunteer Partner. He brings with him a great deal of valuable experience in the healthcare sector as well as an understanding of the pressures facing our charity, making him a real asset. We are tremendously grateful to him for getting behind St Luke’s to help us be here for local families for generations to come.”

Due to the pandemic, no meetings will take place in person until it is safe to do so, but to register your interest in joining Colin in giving a little spare time to support the vital work of St Luke’s in your local area, please email him at or call St Luke’s on 01752 492626.

This Thursday night, we’ll be clapping for these heroes in helmets!

A huge shout out to all the amazing volunteers behind South West Blood Bikes, a local charity which literally goes the extra mile delivering blood samples between organisations including UHP NHS Trust and St Luke’s, saving our own precious resources.

More than that, these big-hearted bikers who give their time for free have really stepped up during the current crisis, picking up prescriptions from pharmacies and delivering them to people isolating at home.

From one charity to another, we want to say we couldn’t be more grateful for the vital service they provide. When ‘normal’ life resumes, you’ll see them fundraising at all sorts of public events, so please dig deep to show your support!

Among our amazing volunteers giving their time and skills unpaid to help our charity is a special lady who has stepped up from one shift a week to five in these extraordinary times.

On a ‘normal’ Thursday, Linda Morris is a friendly face at our airy Driftwood Café at Turnchapel, where she serves meals, snacks and drinks to visitors and staff with a warm smile. It’s a role she has grown to love since she began volunteering with us after her beloved husband Brian died and following retirement from her long career in procurement at the University of Plymouth.

Now though, with the pandemic meaning that sadly, she can’t visit her mother or sister – who are both living in separate care homes – Linda is kindly using her free time to make even more of a difference. With the café currently closed and visiting patients restricted due to safety precautions, she is putting the experience she has already gained at St Luke’s to good use, helping her Catering colleagues by serving food and drinks to our patients on the wards at the specialist unit.

Linda said: “Usually, I visit mum in her care home every day and my sister two or three times a week, but the impact of the pandemic means a lot more spare time. It is hard not being able to see them, but I didn’t hesitate to up my hours at Turnchapel because I know the difference an extra pair of hands can make.

“It’s very much a two-way thing because, living alone, my St Luke’s family means a lot to me. So yes, I give but I also gain. The unit is such an uplifting place and I love being there with other volunteers and chatting with the nurses.”

During her shifts, Linda is busy making teas and coffees for our patients and serving their meals so she wears the necessary PPE, including facemask. She said: “I’m used to helping out, serving drinks on the ward as part of my usual shift, and I always say hello to the patients and let them know by my smile that I care. Now though, my mask means they can no longer see me smiling, so I try to spend a little longer with them, chatting and having a bit of friendly banter. We even laugh together when they can see my goggles steaming up!

“I relate to some of what they’re going through being separated from family at the moment, and if I can show them I care, I feel I’ve made a difference.”

Catering Manager Lesley Henderson said: “Without our volunteers we would struggle to run our catering so well even in ordinary times and now, their support is more appreciated than ever. Linda is so helpful and positive, going way above and beyond with all these extra shifts, and I couldn’t be prouder that she’s part of our team.”

A big thank you to Linda, as well as all our other kind-hearted volunteers. Whether you are currently volunteering with us or isolating at home, we really value you all!

Learn more about volunteering at St Luke’s.