Five tips for beginners from ‘Dream Team’ cyclist Jean
Twelve months ago Jean Holland from Herne Bay made some drastic changes – she gave up sugar and wheat, lost a stone in weight and decided to get moving again. Although she was serious about getting fit, she had no idea that one year on she’d be training to ride 100 miles in Pilgrims Hospices Cycle Challenge.
“I was 54 and used to run half marathons, but hadn’t run for a couple of years,” explains Jean. “I decided I wasn’t going to do the boring gym stuff, because I hated it and I wanted to do something I would enjoy.”
Jean bought a bike, got in touch with Breeze – a cycling group that organises women-only rides – and got pedalling. Shortly after she signed up to Pilgrims’ Divas on Wheels ride, choosing the 25-mile challenge; it was her way of giving something back.
“My dad, Dave Holland, died from cancer in 2011. He spent a couple of weeks in the Canterbury hospice whilst they were trying to sort out his medication.
My dad died from cancer in 2011. He spent a couple of weeks in the Canterbury hospice. I was terrified at the thought of a hospice, but when I first visited him I immediately changed my view. It was such a warm, welcoming place with such a relaxed atmosphere.
“I was terrified at the thought of a hospice, but when I first visited him I immediately changed my view. It was such a warm, welcoming place with such a relaxed atmosphere.
“When he came home we had two visits a day from the lovely hospice ladies who washed and dressed him, and the nurses who took care of him. Between them they enabled us to keep Dad at home until the end, which meant so much to us all.”
Getting into gear
Jean’s first cycling test was the Divas nine-mile practice ride on 6 May 2017, and it’s a day that will stay in her memory.
“I remember it vividly,” recalls Jean. “I turned up in jeans, my padded jacket, a long-strapped handbag containing a bottle of water and leather gloves. I was so embarrassed when I saw everybody in Lycra!”
When the Divas on Wheels ride finally came round, Jean rode with two friends and the group named themselves the Dream Team. It was a momentous occasion for Jean, and very hot at 34 degrees!
“I took a bag of Jelly Babies with me for energy. We stopped for a breather and I took them out of my pocket to offer them round, but they had melted into a huge gelatinous lump! We all had a bite out of it.”
After a Jelly Baby boost and pushing her bike up a couple of hills, Jean finally crossed the line to a hero’s welcome.
“I remember it as being a really happy day. Loads of my family turned up to welcome me back! I really felt I had achieved something and I raised about £340 in donations.”
Cycling to get out, get fit and lose weight is fantastic, but it’s even better when you’re doing it for others, too. Knowing that with every push of the pedal you’re raising money for a charity close to your heart is a massive motivator.
Now Jean’s thoughts have turned to the The Century – the 100-mile route in Pilgrims Hospices Cycle Challenge. Every Wednesday she pedals through the Kent countryside to clock up another personal best; her latest is 51 miles. At weekends she cycles with the Breeze ladies.
“I intend to do 60 miles next week and will keep doing similar until the weekend before the Pilgrims ride. I’m also doing a 100km charity ride in April, which will be a final push. It will set me up for the big ride.”
Although Jean has a plan, the nerves are setting in. “It took five hours to do the 51 miles, so it’s going to take at least 10 to do the 100. It took me ages to get to sleep last night, worrying about getting back in the dead of night after everyone has gone home!”
Fortunately, Jean has been encouraged by Fiona Baker from the outset and will be teaming up with Angela Mills on the day. Both women are Breeze champions.
“I very quickly fell in love with cycling but I know for sure that if it wasn’t for Fiona, I wouldn’t be where I am now. She’s my hero! For those who have just started, I’d definitely recommend a group like Breeze. It’s changed my life.”
Asked if she has any other advice for beginners, Jean said: “Not really. I’m the one who needs the encouraging words!”
We beg to differ! Here’s what we’ve learned talking to Jean:
Five top tips for Cycle Challenge 2018
Do it for others Cycling to get out, get fit and lose weight is fantastic, but it’s even better when you’re doing it for others, too. Knowing that with every push of the pedal you’re raising money for a charity close to your heart is a massive motivator.
Join a cycling group You’ll go much further much quicker by discovering rides and routes you never knew existed, and by cycling with others you’ll get up to speed faster.
Get the gear You can have all the gear and still no idea, but when it comes to cycling the right clothing and equipment helps a lot – and you don’t need to spend a fortune to ensure a smoother ride. Remember to keep well hydrated and have energy snacks on hand (even gelatinous Jelly Babies can give you a much-needed boost!)
Set achievable training goals Dedicate a specific time in the week to training and stick with it. It’s important to see your performance improve. Keep it interesting; try new routes and challenges to build up to the big day.
Find a hero Jean wouldn’t be where she is now without the support of those who’ve been there and done it before. Draw inspiration from other cyclists, whether they’re new buddies or sporting legends.
Jean is hoping to raise £300 for Pilgrims; if you’d like to support her you can visit her JustGiving page. We wish her and her team all the very best for Sunday 6 May!
Pilgrims Hospices recognise that carers play an essential role in the journey of their patients, and they believe friends and family should be supported throughout. Their Wellbeing and Social Programme offer carers’ programmes and individual packages to support with the practical and emotional issues that people may experience in a caring role. Here, Yvonne Riley from Whitstable shares her experience of that support.
I’ve seen hospice care from both sides, as a carer myself and as a friend.
I first accessed Pilgrims carers’ services when my partner was cared for in the hospice at the end of his life; that was ten years ago. Now I’ve come back to support my close friend, Betty Mount, who cares for her husband, Ted, who has cancer. Betty has a visual impairment so I drive her from her home in Hillsborough, Herne Bay and come to the hospice with her to take down any information she needs.
My own experience with Pilgrims was amazing. They made me feel important, which when you are a carer you really don’t. Now, with Betty, Pilgrims is giving her the same excellent support and with even more services available.
My own experience with Pilgrims was amazing. Now, with Betty, Pilgrims is giving her the same excellent support and with even more services available.
When Betty was first invited to come to Pilgrims for a Carer Wellbeing day she wasn’t keen. We’ve been friends for 30 years and have been through everything together, so I said I’d join her.
As soon as we came through the door we felt at home. The tea was on, there was a lovely smell of lunch and we were welcomed by volunteers. It didn’t feel clinical, it felt normal – like Betty coming to see me at home but with a lot of other people there, too.
By the end of the first session we had made lots of new friends! You feel safe. It doesn’t matter whether you feel like laughing or crying, no one will judge you.
Pilgrims nurses pop to see us in the Therapy Centre and see Betty at home, too. The community nurse visits Ted to keep an eye on his medication and make sure his symptoms are managed.
As soon as we came through the door we felt at home. The tea was on, there was a lovely smell of lunch and we were welcomed by volunteers. It didn’t feel clinical, it felt normal.
There’s been a change in Ted as well; he is much more mobile, and even comes and uses my exercise bike – we say ‘it’s a miracle’.
Betty’s been given the Pilgrims Advice Line number to call any time. You might only have a really simple question, but the Advice Line means that you can ask and you don’t feel alone.
Pilgrims gives you a release as a carer – some time to look after your own needs without feeling guilty. It’s been wonderful to see how much Pilgrims support has given Betty more confidence in supporting Ted.
Pilgrims Carers Wellbeing Programme is just one of the sessions held regularly at our Therapy Centres in Ashford, Canterbury and Thanet. If you or someone you know is coping with a life limiting illness and you think you may benefit from Pilgrims free services, talk to your GP or Healthcare Professional about your options or click here to read about our Wellbeing and Social Programme.
16th March 2018
Fire and Ice Walk will put couple to the test
An engaged couple from Lyminge, Kent will put their feet to the fire in a unusual initiation test on Saturday 24 March.
Lizzie Holmes and Daniel Shilling will tie the knot in August, but not before they’ve crossed a threshold of fire to raise money for Pilgrims Hospices.
Lizzie decided to take part in the Firewalk challenge while her grandfather Richard received end of life care at Pilgrims Hospice Canterbury in December 2017 and across the new year.
“The love and care the staff and volunteers gave to our grandad and family during this difficult time is beyond words,” explains Lizzie.
“It was such a homely environment; they did everything and they thought of everything, so I wanted to give something back. My grandad was right next to me when I signed us both up.”
The love and care the staff and volunteers gave to our grandad and family during this difficult time is beyond words.
The Fire and Ice Walk takes place on Saturday 24 March at the Sports Pavilion at the University of Kent. Lizzie and Daniel will walk barefooted over red-hot wood embers measuring 800 degrees.
This challenge marks the start of a new chapter in the couple’s life together, as it will be the first among many they plan to take on.
“We’ve signed up to some other challenges and have this idea that we’ll do a couple every year to raise money for cancer charities,” adds Lizzie. “If we can get through walking across burning embers together, we can get through anything!”
Each year Pilgrims supports hundreds of local people coping with a life limiting illness, and their families. We offer a range of services: from end of life care given on our wards, to our Wellbeing and Social Programme supporting people after they are diagnosed to live well and stay independent.
8th March 2018
Always Loved Tribute Funds: Natalie’s story
After Natalie’s mum, Ronda Evett, was cared for at Pilgrims Hospice Thanet in 2017, she and her family decided to set up an Always Loved Tribute Fund in her memory. Here, Natalie shares how this helps the family to collect memories and photographs of Ronda in one place, as well as providing a secure way for family and friends to donate directly to Pilgrims Hospices.
Much of what has happened in the last six months has been a blur to me. This, of course, does have its advantages when you lose a mum like ours; it can buffer the pain of the loss, but coming back to reality is a hard shock and continues to be so. Mum was one of those beautiful people in life that no one ever forgot; she enriched everyone’s lives, far and wide, with great big outstretched arms that were never-ending with time, love and compassion for everyone.
Mum always loved her garden and flowers. During her illness many flowers arrived at the house; each time I would open them for her, she would look at them and then cry. ‘Oh Nattie, people are just so lovely and caring’, she would say through the tears. She was always thinking about the efforts other people took, but never her own. Towards the end she wanted people to stop sending flowers, saying the smell was ‘too strong’ and ‘too close’. I think this was one of her ways of letting go, letting people know it was soon to end. It was her way of telling people to let go of her, to ease their pain.
Our Much Loved Tribute Fund allows us to see thoughts and messages that people have written about Mum and to add photos. I’m sure we will use this page for years to come, showing it to our children and remembering Mum on special days by adding to the site.
Charity was very close to Mum’s heart and she supported many organisations. We knew she would want donations for a charitable cause rather than money spent on flowers (which she didn’t like the smell of anyway and had clearly told us so!)
Our Much Loved Tribute Fund was set up whilst we were planning Mum’s memorial service; I don’t really remember how it came about, it must have been in one of ‘the blurs’ that I set it up online.
It has been invaluable to us, and to family and friends as a secure way to donate directly to Pilgrims. We’re really proud of what we have achieved financially, and continue to raise funds through various activities. Our Much Loved Tribute Fund allows us to see thoughts and messages that people have written about Mum and to add photos. I’m sure we will use this page for years to come, showing it to our children and remembering Mum on special days by added to the site. Many people spoke at her memorial service, and we are currently putting these beautiful words on to the site so that everyone can have access, keeping thoughts of Mum very much alive.
Pilgrims made a heartbreaking time for us more bearable than we can ever express to them. They continue to support my sister and I now, as well as our children.
At the moment our Much Loved Tribute Fund is almost a focal point for us as we are about to embark on various coffee mornings in France, where I live, to support Pilgrims, and the Paws 4 Pilgrims dog walk in Deal on 25 March 2018. It is definitely helping us to do the best that we can to raise funds for Pilgrims, who were astounding in their care, compassion and professionalism for our darling Mummy. Pilgrims made a heartbreaking time for us more bearable than we can ever express to them. They continue to support my sister and I now, as well as our children. We are forever in debt to them.
Nan’s hospice care inspires siblings to take on the Ice Walk challenge
Sister and brother Lisa Harris from Peene near Folkestone and Richard Turner from Ashford are facing their own big freeze with an Ice Walk for Pilgrims Hospices on Saturday 9 March at The Towers School near Ashford.
So far, they’ve raised an amazing £450.00 in memory of their nan, June Fewins, who was cared for by Pilgrims in January 2018.
Richard said: “Nan was taken ill and spent some time in hospital before being moved to the hospice. She was reluctant to go at first as she wanted to be at home. She had lived in Ashford, in the same house, for about 60 years. This home became a meeting point for the whole family and you always knew that you could go to Nan’s house and bump into someone. She ruled the house with as much ferocity as love, and she loved to bake. She would always offer you a sweet or biscuit, whether you wanted one or not!”
For the first time in years I saw my nan smile. She wasn’t in pain, and although she wasn’t at home she described the hospice as a 5-star hotel.
June was diagnosed with incurable cancer at the age of 80 and began to need a greater level of care. She was admitted to Pilgrims Hospice Ashford and cared for on the ward.
The family called her room at the hospice ‘Nan’s house’ and at one point there were around 20 of her treasured family by her bedside. Richard and Lisa stayed with her for about two days, living in the hospice.
Richard said: “The staff were incredible and kept us comfortable, fed and watered and made sure we all had a place to sleep or at least a pillow or blanket for comfort.
“I knew of the hospice but had never experienced the extent of their care first-hand. I was surprised to learn that of the people who are cared for on Pilgrims wards, almost half come in for symptom management and are able to return home to continue living independently. There’s so much they can do to help people live, as well as caring for people at the end of life.”
When Richard first went to see his nan he says he was amazed by how spacious her room was, how comfortable she looked and how amazing the gardens looked out of her window. “For the first time in years I saw my nan smile,” he said. “She wasn’t in pain, and although she wasn’t at home she described the hospice as a 5-star hotel. Her last few days were like a holiday to her and she could say nothing but good things about the staff.
“Whatever she wanted for dinner was provided and, despite not drinking alcohol for years because of her medication, she enjoyed a whiskey every night. I find it hard to put into words what it was like seeing her and knowing that she was dying, but also seeing her so happy, so content and so relaxed.
“When Nan died, the staff were wonderful and offered such supportive words and told us how polite and nice she was and a pleasure to look after. I don’t think we could ever truly pay back the hospice for what they did for our nan but we wanted to do something to raise some money as a thank you, which is why we chose the Ice Walk.”
If you would like to support Richard and Lisa you can make a donation via their Just Giving page.
I don’t think we could ever truly pay back the hospice for what they did for our nan but we wanted to do something to raise some money as a thank you, which is why we chose the Ice Walk.
Robert Grew, Pilgrims Event Organiser, said: “This is such a lovely story. We really appreciate all that our wonderful supporters do in order for us to continue providing vital care for those who need it most.”
If you’ve visited Pilgrims Hospices website in the last few weeks you might have noticed something a little different; we’re really excited to introduce a brand new Pilgrims website for you to explore.
The biggest reason for the change is to provide better information about our care. As soon as you visit the new website, you’ll see we’ve changed the experience for visitors. One of our key goals is to encourage people with an incurable illness to come and talk to us sooner; our new website is designed to break down some of the fears that can get in the way of this.
Our homepage is now all about our services; it uses positive language and images to show that, as well as helping people at end of life, we also help people to do a lot of living, too.
You can watchvideos and readblogs from our service users talking about what it’s really like to use Pilgrims services, and there’s new information that patients and carers can download.