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‘My Pilgrims visit inspired me to train’

Posted on 8 February 2017

Jayne Ellender at Pilgrims Hospice Canterbury

Jayne Ellender was surprised by what she discovered when she first visited Pilgrims Hospice Canterbury.

Her visit inspired her to run the notorious 26-mile London Marathon. Jayne has since raised enough to pay for a new specialist bed and chair. This will help give comfort and independence to people with a life limiting illness using the service.

Visiting Pilgrims was the first time I had stepped into a hospice.

I came to Pilgrims for a welcome event and that visit really opened my eyes.

When I walked through the doors it was like I’d come into a hotel foyer. Everyone was really smiley. People welcomed me. I’d imagined it to be very solemn but it wasn’t; it was light and airy and warm.

My Uncle Dennis Harris was cared for in Pilgrims Hospice Ashford and had amazing support. The nurses and doctors were there for our family 24/7 to make sure we were all comfortable.


Last year I started running for charity because my friend had breast cancer. I was 42, and back then I couldn’t run to the end of the road. Trying to think what I could do to help, I ended up training to run Race for Life. That was the start.

I carried on running and fundraised for Pilgrims, taking in my £60 donation from a little run I’d done. Then, I applied for the London Marathon.

It took a few times before I was accepted. One morning last October, the London Marathon pack fell onto my doormat. I had been accepted. I was so happy.


We went on a tour around the Pilgrims Canterbury site. There was so much more there than I had realised. An education centre, a research team, and outpatient services for people who are living independently. It had everything from complementary therapy to physiotherapy and art.

Art therapy at Pilgrims Hospices

I found the visit extremely inspiring. Our guide, Martyn, is a Spiritual Care Lead and complementary therapist at the hospice. He explained how important it is to the hospice philosophy that service users can have anything they need to make them comfortable and improve their quality of life.

I didn’t know that if you’re staying on the ward you can bring in pets and your belongings from home. If you’re cared for at home, you still have access to a range of specialist equipment to suit your needs.

I knew only a proportion of Pilgrims income was from the NHS. Coming to see for myself, though, really showed me how important it is for the community to get involved.

I decided to raise money for a special accessible chair and bed like those I had seen on my visit.


In the run up to marathon day, I trained really hard. I took great care so I didn’t get an injury. I kept thinking, “It’s a small bit of pain for a lot of gain.”

At first, I struggled a bit with fundraising; I felt embarrassed asking for money. Then I thought to myself, “It’s not for me, it’s for Pilgrims” and I gained confidence. I was overwhelmed by the support I got from family and friends, achieving my total sponsorship goal.

Day group at Pilgrims Hospices

When the big day arrived I set myself a target time of 4.5 hours. I was feeling really good, and got in at 3.53. Having the sponsorship helped me focus because I didn’t want to let anyone down. It felt amazing when I crossed the finish line.

What I’ve achieved makes me extremely proud and I hope to do more. In October I’ll find out if I have a place for the next London Marathon (I entered again straight after the last one) – I hope I do!

Find out how you can fundraise for Pilgrims

If Jayne’s story has inspired you to run the marathon or fundraise for Pilgrims in another way, you can get in touch with or download the Pilgrims fundraising pack.

Get inspired to fundraise for Pilgrims with their online fundraising guide.


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