#PilgrimsLife: “Volunteering is a chance to give something back”
Meet Sandra and Martin Cook, who started volunteering after Sandra’s mum received Pilgrims care. Their first fundraising feat was climbing Kilimanjaro, and after completing that they decided to become fundraising volunteers.
Martin and Sandra are two of thousands of Pilgrims volunteers who support every aspect of the charity’s work to make a difference for local families.
Here, Sandra shares their volunteering story.
What first got you involved in volunteering for Pilgrims?
The hospice cared for my Mum in 2013. We were so overwhelmed by the kindness and support of the nurses. They helped not only my Mum, but also my Dad and the whole family too. Mum was only in the hospice for about 12 hours. Prior to that, she’d been in hospital for many weeks. Although the nurses there were lovely, the fact she was able to write a note when she woke up in the hospice to say she’d had the best night’s sleep in months showed how relaxed she was feeling. We wanted to do something to say ‘thank you’, so we decided to trek Kilimanjaro. We met up with Deborah from the fundraising team who had lots of ideas to help us maximise our fundraising goals. After we completed the trek, it just seemed natural to continue to help with fundraising so we started volunteering at supermarket collections and hospice fundraising events.
What’s the most enjoyable thing about your volunteering work?
Meeting so many different people, we’ve made new friends amongst the other volunteers. It’s also very emotional but lovely to meet members of the public who come and tell you about their experiences of family and friends being cared for by Pilgrims. I’m not sure ‘enjoyable’ is the right adjective for that, but it’s certainly the thing that touches us the most.
It certainly gives you a sense of belonging and a real sense of pride when you put on a Pilgrims tshirt.
What difference does volunteering make to you personally?
For both of us it’s a chance to give something back. It certainly gives you a sense of belonging and a real sense of pride when you put on a Pilgrims tshirt. I think it’s helped us cope with losing Mum too, as we feel we’re volunteering in her memory. It’s also a great confidence builder because you find yourself doing things that you wouldn’t normally do. Martin marshalling bikes and cars at the Cycle Challenge, for instance, is something he’s really proud to do. For me, volunteering has given me the chance to develop my baking skills. Part of my original fundraising was baking cakes to sell, and that has grown into baking for some Pilgrims events. I hadn’t realised I enjoyed baking as much as I do, and it feels the right thing to do as my mum always made lovely cakes.
What positive things have you learned about Pilgrims that other people might not know?
It’s certainly not just a place people go to to die, which is what I had always thought it was. The range of services and support Pilgrims gives to patients and families makes living at a difficult time so much better. It is such a positive thing.
Every hour and every minute of volunteering for Pilgrims Hospices is hugely valued and goes a long way for the people needing our care.
Our volunteers play a part in every aspect of life in our hospices. They offer support, skills, kindness and care. They raise money, and can be a friendly face helping in our shops or working on our receptions. By generously giving their time, volunteers support our staff as they work to provide the outstanding levels of care for which we are well known.
If you’re already volunteering for Pilgrims, share your story with us on Twitter using the hashtag #PilgrimsLife.
Together we can make a difference for the thousands of people who depend on Pilgrims services across east Kent every day of the year.
Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration of the fantastic contribution of the millions of people who volunteer in their communities across the UK. This year it’s taking place from 1-7 June.
Loving dedications flourish on Pilgrims Memory Trees
Following the launch of Pilgrims Hospices Memory Trees in 2016, more than 400 Pilgrims supporters have taken the opportunity to display a lasting tribute to a loved one.
Pilgrims Memory Trees are three flourishing tree sculptures in the Ashford, Canterbury and Thanet hospices.
Positioned in reception areas, Memory Trees are a way for people to visit the hospice and reflect on special memories in the presence of their copper, silver or gold engraved leaf or dove.
Memory Trees are open to any members of public wishing to create a memorial. They’re not only those who’ve been touched by Pilgrims care; anyone wishing to create a lasting memorial can dedicate a leaf or dove.
Georgina Martin from Sellinge and her husband, Terry Martin, visited the Ashford hospice to see the leaf they’ve dedicated for their son, Gary Townsend. Gary was 45 when he was cared for at Pilgrims Hospice Ashford. Georgina said: “My daughters remember their big brother as always joking. The Tree and leaves are beautiful and will be a very lovely permanent reminder of Gary.”
All donations made through the Trees will help Pilgrims to continue to offer support to local people.
Wendy Hills, Pilgrims Hospices Director of Nursing and Care Services, said: “We understand the importance of celebrating life, honouring those who were special to us and keeping memories alive. The leaves on the Trees will be lasting, beautiful tributes that you can share with family and friends.
“Our supporters’ amazing contributions to our beautiful Trees have already raised more than £46,600, which is an incredible achievement. Each and every act of kindness means we can be there for the next person who needs us.”
You can dedicate a leaf or dove on our beautiful Memory Trees now displayed at all three Pilgrims sites.
This July, we’ll also celebrate the fourth annual Sunflower Memories remembrance days at all three hospices.
You’re invited to join us for our sunflower garden parties. Re-live your memories in the tranquillity of our gardens; music and light refreshments will also be part of the day. Find out more.
30th May 2017
Students volunteer to support hospice pamper day
Therapy students from Canterbury College spent a day giving free treatments to carers for the latest Pilgrims Hospices pamper day.
The beauty, catering and hospitality students gave their time so carers could take some time out to relax and enjoy a neck massage, facial or manicure and pedicure and some delicious cakes.
Pamper days are a regular part of Pilgrims new Wellbeing and Social programme available from its Therapy Centres in Canterbury, Ashford and Thanet. Each centre offers a range of free services for people who are in the later stage of life limiting illness and their families aimed at enhanceing their wellbeing, in mind and body.
Wendy Hills, Pilgrims Director of Nursing and Care, explains: “Family and friends play an essential role in supporting someone when they are coping with an incurable illness. We also know that being a carer can affect your own health and wellbeing. Days like this pamper day aim to reduce the sense of isolation of being a carer and offer a supportive environment.”
She added: “It’s been wonderful to see how much everyone created by this day and especially to have the support of the college in making this happen. It’s so important that the hospice is part of the community. We need to get the word out that as well as coming here for end of life care, people at earlier stage in a terminal illness can also come here to do a lot of living.”
The students, aged between 16 and 19, were volunteering as part of a community day to help them to gain more practical experience while giving something back to the local charity.
Martyn Yates, Pilgrims Hospices Complimentary Therapy lead, organised the event with Canterbury College. He said: “The students were fantastic, and so professional we are delighted to have their support. Our carers all enjoyed their chill out time and the company of these very bright and confident young people.”
Every day in east Kent, as many as 19 people could receive the news that they have an illness that cannot be cured and that they may have less than a year to live. The Wellbeing and Social Programme is free for anyone in the later stage of life limiting illness and their family. It aims to enhance their wellbeing in mind and body. If you, or someone you know could benefit from this support, the first step is to talk to your GP or healthcare professional. They can advise whether the programme is right for you. More information is available here. Or contact Pilgrims for more at firstname.lastname@example.org.
26th May 2017
Community volunteer Tommy brings Gentle Mindful yoga to Pilgrims
Gentle mindful yoga is the order of the day in Pilgrims Hospice Canterbury Therapy Centre on Wednesday mornings.
Tommy who is originally for Arizona USA now lives in Herne Bay. His special gentle mindful yoga has helped hospice patients by providing breathing, stretching, strengthening mindfulness and relaxation techniques.
It’s a very calming experience.
Tommy said: “I’m very happy to help with some simple yoga at Pilgrims Therapy Centre, it’s wonderful to involve people who don’t normally have a chance to enjoy good company and relaxation. It’s a very calming experience.”
Martyn Yates, Pilgrims Hospice Complimentary Therapy Lead said: “It’s lovely to see our patients taking part in the yoga sessions. It’s simple to do and everyone can get involved, there’s no need to leave the chair, just a chance to improve breathing and clear the mind in a supportive and safe environment.”
It’s simple to do and everyone can get involved, there’s no need to leave the chair.
Every hour and every minute of volunteering for Pilgrims Hospices is hugely valued and goes a long way for the people needing our care.
Our volunteers play a part in every aspect of life in our hospices: they offer support, skills, kindness, care, raise money; they can be a friendly face helping in our shops and working on our receptions. By generously giving their time, volunteers support our staff as they work to provide the outstanding levels of care for which we are well known.
If reading about Pilgrims huge community of volunteers has inspired you to find out more about our current volunteering opportunities then click here. You can also download our fundraising pack here.
If you or someone you know is coping with a life limiting illness and you think you may benefit from Pilgrims support, talk to your GP or Healthcare Professional about the options or visit Pilgrims Hospices website Wellbeing and Social Programme.
Pilgrims shop manager nominated as Faversham Hero
Janet Stickells from Faversham was nominated for a Kent Association of Local Councils Faversham Hero award. Her fellow workers at Pilgrims retail store on West Street nominated their colleague for her commitment and dedication as a volunteer to the Pilgrims shop over many years.
Janet was one of three finalists who were invited by The Mayor Cllr Shiel Campbell to attend the annual town meeting at the Assembly Rooms in Preston Street this week, when the winner would be announced.
Janet told us: “I was quite taken aback when I received the invitation, I had no idea that my colleagues had nominated me, I was very flattered. I’m quite shy so felt rather unsure if I would be too embarrassed to go along.
“I’m so delighted I did, it was a lovely evening shared with great friends and colleagues, thank you everyone who nominated me and came along to support me.”
The Pilgrims Faversham shop team brought along a magnificent array of gift items from the store that could be purchased by visitors at the event. Bev Newton, Pilgrims General Retail Manager said: “We are extremely proud of Janet for reaching the final three of the Faversham Hero awards. We think she’s a hero everyday. Running a charity shop, ensuring our goods are displayed well, supervising and training our volunteers is a huge task.”
The volunteer finalists with Janet were Mary Caryer, Arden Theatre and Stephen Sherlock, Faversham Christmas Lights with the winning award going to Mary from the Arden Theatre.
Volunteers are a vital resource for Pilgrims not only within the retail stores but within the hospice receptions, administrative support, flower arranging and supporting our staff at fundraising events just to name a few. There are so many ways you can help to support Pilgrims Hospices by volunteering. You find out more by visiting volunteering opportunities.
If you or someone you know is coping with a life limiting illness and you think you may benefit from Pilgrims support, talk to your GP or Healthcare Professional about the options or visit Pilgrims Hospices Wellbeing and Social Programme.
Local teacher joins Divas cycle ride for Pilgrims
Local teacher Lou Allen from Graveney near Faversham is supporting Pilgrims Hospices exclusively ladies charity cycle ride, Divas on Wheels on 18 June, helping to raise important funds and awareness for hospice care in east Kent.
Lou told us: “This is my second year of cycling the Divas on Wheels charity ride. I really like the fact it is purely for ladies; it makes the whole event feel more relaxed rather than a race. Especially as I can enjoy some of the girlie pampering after the event.”
Lou completed the 25 mile ride last year and plans to complete the 50 miler this year. She rides with the Freewheel Cycling Club where everyone is very supportive and has been building up some miles and technique in order to be ready for the event on 18 June.
“My role as a teacher at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Faversham keeps me busy , I don’t always train as much as I’d like. However, I will make the most of the training rides offered at the Freewheel Cycle Café and make sure I’m fit and ready in time.” Lou told us.
“Granny was cared for by Pilgrims when I was in my teens.” said 26 year old Lou. “I know first hand of the importance of Pilgrims care, I always remember how helpful the hospice team were and I will always be grateful for that.”
It’s great to have Lou riding again this year.
Deborah Kellond, Community Fundraising Manager for Pilgrims Hospices said: “It’s great to have Lou riding again this year, our supporters are amazing and we know the event is going to be a great fundraiser allowing us to continue to provide important care for patients and families who need our help the most.”
If you would like to help to raise vital funds for Pilgrims Hospice care, please support Lou by donating to her Just Giving page.
Each year Pilgrims supports hundreds of local people coping with a life limiting illness and their families. The charity offers a range of services: from end of life care given on its wards, to its new wellbeing and social programme supporting people after they are diagnosed to live well and stay independent.
Care is provided from three hospice sites in Ashford, Canterbury and Thanet as well as in patients’ own homes. To offer these services to patients and their families the charity must raise £11 million each year from the generous local community.