Daniel loses weight and gains ground in marathon run for grandad
Daniel Williams (27) from Deal didn’t expect to win a ballot place for this year’s London Marathon, but when he did he knew that he wanted to do it for Pilgrims Hospices. The charity cared for Daniel’s grandad, Ron Collard, in 2017, so he took the opportunity to give back and achieve a personal fitness goal at the same time.
Ron had lung cancer and was cared for by Pilgrims at the end of his life.
Daniel said: “My grandad was my rock. He was a big part of my life, and losing him left a big hole in our family. Pilgrims were fantastic, not only caring for my grandad but for our family, too. They were amazing. There isn’t enough any of us can do to pay them back for their kindness and the time they gave us.”
I know my grandad would be very proud of me and I’m determined to do the marathon to give back just a fraction of what Pilgrims gave us as a family.
In October 2018, Daniel found out he’d won a place in the London Marathon. Initially shocked and surprised, he accepted the challenge. He said: “After a lot of thinking and sleepless nights I decided I was going to take on this mammoth feat, not knowing at the time that it would change my life around for good. I felt it would be a nice opportunity to give a little something back to Pilgrims.”
Before he could think about completing a marathon, Daniel knew he needed to get in shape and start training. At 25 stone, he had a lot of weight to lose. He added: “I started off by eating healthier, walking every evening and signing up to a gym with my personal trainer, Steph Hoare, training five nights a week. Steph has been my rock throughout, picking me up when I didn’t think I could do it and keeping me motivated. The weight began falling off very quickly.”
To date, Daniel has covered more than 1,000 miles in his training runs and lost an incredible nine and a half stone. Since October 2018, he’s gone from 4XL to Large / XL in clothing. He said: “This a massive achievement. It has totally changed my life around, I can now do so many things that I wasn’t able to before. I know my grandad would be very proud of me and I’m determined to do the marathon to give back just a fraction of what Pilgrims gave us as a family.
“I’m aiming to complete the London Marathon in six hours. I can’t wait to cross that finish line for my grandad.”
Daniel has already raised an amazing £1,500 in sponsorship for Pilgrims Hospices. You can sponsor him by visiting his JustGiving page.
If you’re inspired to follow in Daniel’s footsteps and take on an event or challenge for Pilgrims, visit pilgrimshospices.org/events to find out more.
Death is something that everyone will experience, yet many of us are afraid to talk about it.
Andrew Thorns, Director of Medicine at Pilgrims Hospices, explores why this might be and shares what can be gained from having this important conversation.
Death is something we don’t really think about, although I suppose I do as I work with dying people all the time and have done for more than 20 years. But why don’t we think and talk about death? Because we’re fearful of what it will be like? Because we are not sure what happens after? Because it challenges our beliefs, or it causes pain to those we love?
All are very relevant concerns and there are many others, but perhaps there is something deeper. Perhaps there is something as part of our evolution as a species, something within our make-up, that means as soon as any connection to death comes our way our behaviour and attitudes change. So instead of thinking ahead, planning, deciding what is important to us and making rational decisions about our healthcare, we put it all on the back burner.
We need to trust that talking and thinking about death doesn’t make death happen. When we’ve overcome this, the biggest fear, what more is there to worry about? Once we have planned for the worst, we can continue to hope for and achieve the best.
Dr Andrew Thorns
Sheldon Soloman and death anxiety
These thoughts had often gone through my mind, and were reinforced when reading the work of Sheldon Solomon, a US social psychologist. He gave an excellent talk at the Hospice UK conference in 2015. Briefly, his theory goes: According to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, in order to evolve as a species we needed to strive to stay alive. However, at some point in this evolution we became aware that we are going to die and there is nothing we can do to avoid this. For our early predecessors, this would have caused terror and fear, and they were left trying to manage these feelings.
They did this, and we continue to do so, in various ways:
We believe that some piece of ourself can live on after death. This manifests either as part of a religious faith, where one believes they will gain immortality in an afterlife, or by leaving behind a legacy, for example through their children or by recording their life story before they die.
We look for ways to achieve a life that has meaning and value.
We keep thoughts of death far from the front of our minds. Distracting ourselves with other day to day activites: ‘tranquilising with trivia’, as Solomon puts it.
Solomon and his colleagues confirmed this in a series of experiments. When interviewing people in front of cemeteries, funeral homes and other locations that evoke reminders of death, their behaviour and attitudes changed – even when the triggers were subliminal, with the person unaware of them. These behavioural changes were wide-ranging, including:
Sticking with likeminded individuals and distancing themselves from others
Support for war and suicide bombers
Change in voting preferences towards previously unpopular politicians
Distancing themselves from animals and nature
Overall, subjects in the experiment tended to prefer things that were familiar to them, and they distanced themselves from the thought of being close to animals.
How can these insights help us? We should consider it from three perspectives: individuals, society and the hospice movement.
How can we start to talk about death?
As individuals, we need to recognise that if we can get over this reflex fear of all things associated with death, then we can live better lives – we need to trust that talking and thinking about death doesn’t make death happen. When we’ve overcome this, the biggest fear, what more is there to worry about? Once we have planned for the worst, we can continue to hope for and achieve the best.
After all, it’s not just about a good death, but also living well until you die.
Dr Andrew Thorns
If this approach to the taboo of death became embedded in society, we would all benefit from the open conversations that would result. Decisions about healthcare and treatment would be more in line with individual peoples’ wishes This would remove pressure from their families who, in turn, would be better supported. Resources could be utilised more effectively and directed at what was most important to the individual. The fear associated with the word ‘hospice’ would disappear, and patients needing hospice support would be referred earlier, enabling them to experience greater benefit.
The importance of hospice care
So, what do hospices do? Despite many people thinking that they are places where people spend the last few days of their lives they actually do much more than this. You may have heard that hospices can also improve comfort, ease symptoms and support families through difficult times. This they certainly do, but their most important and impressive achievement is enabling people to get over the fear of death and carry on living well. How do hospices do this? By helping to build a container of care around that person and their family. Why is this needed? When faced with the horrible, dark fear of death, the frightened soul or spirit tries, quite reasonably, to keep away from it.
Rather than this fearful soul left to confront this daunting prospect alone, a container of care is needed that fits carefully to that person’s needs and enables a smoother journey and adjustment to what is ahead. A hospice can build this around the person and those close to them, so that they can face up to the initial fear and keep on living well despite this knowledge.
After all, it’s not just about a good death, but also living well until you die.
Andrew Thorns is Director of Medicine at Pilgrims Hospices, the largest hospice charity in east Kent, UK. He strongly believes in the importance of research and skilled communication to improve patient care.
The views reflected here are his own.
There’s much more to death than we think; what if it isn’t just an ending, but an event we can plan for? Thinking beyond the four walls of hospices and hospitals, we have the chance to approach it with confidence and plan a good death. After Wards is a collection of insights and ideas from people who can help us all to re-imagine this essential part of life, and to live well until we die.
Continue the conversation at our Time to Talk events with film screenings, poetry readings, Death Cafes and much more.
16th April 2019
Turn on the pedal power for Pilgrims
The much-loved Pilgrims Hospices Cycle Challenge will be celebrating its 10 year anniversary on Sunday 5 May 2019. Every year, the event attracts over 1,200 people to don their helmets to achieve personal targets and explore the beautiful Kent countryside while raising vital funds to support local end-of-life care.
Richard Davis, Pilgrims Hospices chairman and regular cyclist, has participated in every ride since the very first Cycle Challenge in 2010 and will take to the roads and lanes of east Kent once again this year.
It’s always a great pleasure to meet so many dedicated cyclists who are all making an amazing contribution to end-of-life care within our community; listening to their stories of what hospice care has meant to them and their loved ones.
Richard Davis, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Richard said: “I’m looking forward to riding alongside everyone again this year. The Cycle Challenge is a huge highlight in the fundraising calendar for Pilgrims and by far the largest of our annual events. Cyclists of all abilities, young and old, take part from all across east Kent and from much further afield too.
“I’ve enjoyed so many great experiences over the years and will be riding the 45-mile route between Canterbury and the Ashford hospice this time around. It’s always a great pleasure to meet so many dedicated cyclists who are all making an amazing contribution to end-of-life care within our community; listening to their stories of what hospice care has meant to them and their loved ones. Whichever distance you choose to cycle, you will enjoy a well signed route, full event support, renowned food stops and the amazing camaraderie of fellow cyclists along the way.
“By taking part in the Cycle Challenge you will be making a real difference to the lives of thousands of local people living with an incurable illness. Every pedal turned and pound raised will go to supporting our patients; making them comfortable, alleviating pain and enabling them to make the most of the time they have. With your help we can continue to be there for the next family who needs us.”
Over the past decade, our wonderful community of cyclists has raised more than £825,000 for Pilgrims Hospices. Now, we need your help to make the 10th anniversary Cycle Challenge the biggest yet and reach our goal of £1 million raised for local end-of-life care.
Debenhams Ashford team pedal to Liverpool and beyond for Pilgrims
Debenhams Ashford are the first team to get on their bikes and ride as part of Pilgrims Hospices My 10, Any 10 challenge.
A team of 30 staff came together to support Pilgrims Hospices on Friday 5 and Saturday 6 April by getting on their bikes in the County Square store. The team surpassed their own plans, riding a virtual distance of 300 miles from Ashford to Liverpool as part of Pilgrims’ new My 10, Any 10 challenge.
The team of all ages and abilities took turns of 10-30 minutes each to cycle for over five hours in total on two static bikes. The cycling contingent had planned to cycle to Brighton and to do 10 miles or km at a time, but the miles kept coming and the tired legs kept pedalling, so the team decided their end would be Liverpool instead.
Pilgrims is very close to our hearts, a member of staff was cared for at the hospice in Ashford. As a store we chose to take part in the My 10, Any 10 challenge to help raise much needed funds for local hospice care.
Amanda Bancroft, My 10 event organiser at Debenhams
Amanda Bancroft, one of the organisers from Debenhams, said: “We have chosen to support Pilgrims as it is a charity very close to our hearts, after a member of staff was cared for at the hospice in Ashford. As a store we chose to take part in the My 10, Any 10 challenge to help raise much needed funds for local hospice care.
“We took on the challenge of cycling the distance from Ashford to Brighton in store over two days but had so much fun that we ended up cycling the distance to Liverpool instead! We would like to say a big thank you to all of our staff and customers who supported us over the weekend, helping to raise a fantastic £1,000.
“A special thank you to the Park Club Gym in Ashford for loaning the two bikes, Water Direct who kindly donated bottles of water and the Debenhams Beauty Houses for donating prizes for the raffle, including a voucher from Longacres.
“We had such fun and hope to continue raising money for the hospice in April.”
My 10, Any 10 is an inclusive challenge for people of all ages to set themselves the target of achieving 10 of something.
This may be 10 circuits of a school field, 10 miles on a bike, a 10-hour static cycle, a 10km swim completed over several sessions in a pool, or it could be doing something 10 times to celebrate 10 years of Pilgrims’ Cycle Challenge.
My 10, Any 10 participants can either raise sponsorship for their chosen 10 or ask people to pay to take part in a group activity. Every pound raised will go towards the care of people living with incurable illness, and their families, here in east Kent.
This May the Pilgrims Hospices Cycle Challenge reaches 10 years of pedal power for Pilgrims. By taking part in the My 10, Any 10 and the Cycle Challenge you will be making a real difference to the lives of thousands of local people living with an incurable illness. Every pedal turned and pound raised will help support our patients; making them comfortable, alleviating pain and enabling them to make the most of the time they have. With your help we can continue to be there for the next family who needs us.
Pro cyclist Alex Paton rallies cyclists for Pilgrims Hospices Cycle Challenge
Photograph: Hugh McManus
Professional cyclist Alex Paton (28) grew up in Dover and developed his love for cycling riding in east Kent as a young boy. Alex spoke to Pilgrims Hospices about his experiences and shared advice for cyclists ahead of the charity’s 10th anniversary Cycle Challenge event, which will take place on Sunday 5 May 2019.
How did you first get into cycling?
I first got into cycling after seeing a local cycling club’s Saturday practice sessions for kids; VC Deal is a large cycling club in south east Kent and is really the main reason I started cycling. Many of the skills I learnt there serve me well today as a professional cyclist.
What was it like growing up riding in east Kent?
It’s a great area, with a wide variety of terrain and quality roads. To also have a cycling racing track at Betteshanger Park is a real bonus.
Pilgrims cared for a member of my family many years ago. Events like this will enable their great services to continue and help others when they need it the most.
What is it like being part of a professional team?
It’s brilliant. It takes a lot of hard work and commitment to be a professional athlete, but this is rewarded with experiences and a lifestyle that simply wouldn’t be possible in another profession.
Can you share some helpful tips for new cyclists?
For me, the most important thing is to always have fun. Sure, there are tough challenges with cycling, but there is always a great feeling afterwards. If working towards a cycling sportive or challenge like the Pilgrims Hospices ride, I’d suggest gradually building up towards the distance and time of your event. A little food and drink now and again will keep you fueled up and prepared for a fast finish.
Photograph: Hugh McManus
Photograph: Hugh McManus
Why should people get involved in the Pilgrims Hospices Cycle Challenge and support the care of people who are living with incurable illness?
The Cycle Challenge is a great way for likeminded people to get together and enjoy cycling, whilst also raising awareness of local hospice services and improving the support that can be offered for those who need vital care. Pilgrims cared for a member of my family many years ago. Events like this will enable their great services to continue and help others when they need it the most.
Kent’s biggest charity ride is celebrating its 10thanniversary. Get on your bike and join more than 1,200 cyclists of all abilities as you explore the beautiful Kent countryside with friends, family and colleagues.
Greenhill Senior Citizens Club raise funds for Pilgrims
Herne Bay community group, the Greenhill Senior Citizens Club, recently presented a cheque for £440 to Pilgrims Hospices. The club, who are regular charity fundraisers, are generous supporters of a number of charities throughout the year. The kurling group who host a weekly raffle for members nominated Pilgrims Hospices to receive the funds raised.
Lydia Todd, Community Fundraising Officer was invited to watch a match and accept the cheque on behalf of Pilgrims. She said: “It was a delight to hear how special the club was to the members and how it gives them a friendly place to meet others and socialise with people in their local community.”
Thank you for choosing to support our hospices.
Lydia – Pilgrims.
Pilgrims Hospices was chosen as the charity for the kurling club as a number of the members had experienced Pilgrims care and wanted to enable others to experience the same care they’d been lucky enough to receive.
“Pilgrims would like to say a huge thank you to all of the club members for choosing to support our hospices. Their contributions will really help to make a difference to those who need our help right now.” Lydia added.
The Greenhill over 50’s club aims to provide a safe, friendly and enjoyable space for those in the community who want to socialise, get involved in and try new activities or are lonely. Activities include line dancing, darts, bingo, carpet bowls, crib, table tennis, and kurling. The club has raised a total of £1,805.50 including this donation, since 2001. Just as they offer a space for members of the community to make friends and try new activities, their donations have allowed Pilgrims to offer patients the chance to visit day hospice sessions to experience new activities and friendships.www.greenhillseniorcitizensclub.org.uk
If you would like to find out more about fundraising for Pilgrims Hospices please contact our fundraising they would love to hear from you.
This year alone, Pilgrims Hospices has to raise £11 million through voluntary donations in order to run our full range of services. Sponsorship raised through events like these helps us to continue caring for local people at the end of their lives.