26th July 2022

    Bus driver on the run for fun!

    Garry Warren, (53) from Garlinge in Margate is a super fundraiser with a number of ½ marathon and marathon medals in his collection, including the world-famous London Marathon; he’s raised £1,000s for local charities over the years.

    Emma and Garry

    Garry and his youngest daughter Emma will be supporting his much-loved charity, Pilgrims Hospices with a change of pace when they take part in this year’s Thanet 5k Colour Run in October to raise important funds for hospice care.

    Bus driver Garry, has colleagues from Stagecoach Westwood Cross Bus Garage taking on this fun event too. Garry said: “I’ve been a bus driver for 27 years, and my colleagues and fellow bus drivers have always been generous with their donations and support, I’d like to thank them, their help has been a huge part of my fundraising achievements over the years. I’d especially like to thank my great friend and colleague Dave Irving, who does so much to help me with my fundraising.

    “I understand how important Pilgrims Hospices care is within the community, some of my colleagues have received care from the hospice. After receiving a cancer diagnosis, Pilgrims helped to manage their pain and provided support at the end of their lives.”

    Originally from South London, family man Garry who has two daughters, Emma (13) and Katie (23), moved to Margate 12 years ago and said: “I definitely made the right move, my family and I love our local life. People are so friendly and we’ve settled and enjoy life away from the hustle and bustle of London.

    “I’ve always been a keen runner ever since I was a teenager, and over the years, I’ve raised around £10,000 for local charities including Pilgrims Hospices. My generous friends and colleagues have supported my fundraising and I try to find some interesting and quirky ways to gain their support. Sometimes, if I’m planning to run with a friend, I will ask them to guess the gap between our finishing times, this usually achieves some laughs and keeps us going right through to the end of the run.

    “My daughter Emma and me will be taking on all the fun of the Thanet 5k Colour Run and we hope to get well and truly colour splashed on our way around the route. I also have some Stagecoach colleagues who are taking part too.”

    Why not join Garry and Emma and have the best Colour Run fun on Sunday 2 October? You can walk, jog or run the event, it’s all about the fun of taking part. As part of your registration fee, you will receive a white T-shirt, paint sachet and fun protective specs, the rest is up to you to go and have fun!

    After checking in on the day, the event gets started with some fun warm-up music and then an amazing colour blast to start those taking part on their colour journey.

    You can register today at pilgrimshospices.org/colourun run or contact Karen Kenward for more information:

    Early Bird entry is available until Sunday 31 July 2022 and standard entry closes on Monday 26 September 2022, so sign up soon to save some pennies!

    See you there!

    Pilgrims Hospices cares for thousands of local people each year, free of charge, during the most challenging time in their lives. They offer care and support in people’s own homes, in the community and in their inpatient units as well as running a 24-hour advice line.

    25th July 2022

    Lottery member Lynette gives back to Pilgrims Hospices

    Lynette Young from Chartfields in the Kingsnorth area of Ashford is a long-time supporter of Pilgrims Hospices; she has played the charity’s Lottery for 10 years and taken part in several fundraising events, raising more than £2,000 for local hospice care. 

    Having seen close friends benefit from Pilgrims’ vital services, Lynette is inspired to give back and support the local hospice charity however she can.

    Lynette during her 55km walk on the Pilgrims Way Challenge

    She said: “Pilgrims is such a great place, and you never know who might need it. Two very close friends have had loved ones pass away at the Ashford hospice – in 2017, and just this year in January 2022. I know everyone there is fabulous, warm and caring, and I truly believe you never know what is around the corner. It is a great local charity here in east Kent.”

    Lynette joined Pilgrims Hospices Lottery after the charity gave a talk at her workplace. She has been a lucky Lottery winner and inspired friends to join, too. She gave some of her winnings to her eldest daughter and her boyfriend to put towards their first home, and is saving the rest to do something special with her family.

    Lynette has also raised money for Pilgrims through taking part in events, including night-time walks and the Pilgrims Way Challenge.

    She continued: “I’m incredibly lucky to have supportive family and friends. When I share my fundraising on Facebook, so many amazing people donate – I can only put this down to them knowing how much I try to support Pilgrims and also that I love a challenge!

    “I’m a true believer in supporting local and as a local charity, Pilgrims is close to my heart. They really are brilliant. I know the money I raise will help to keep hospice services running.”

    Shiralee Riddell, Lottery Manager, said: “Thank you for your continued kind support of the work of Pilgrims Hospices, Lynette; you really do make a difference to so many local people.”

    Fancy trying your luck with Pilgrims Hospices Lottery?

    Join the local hospice lottery that really does make a difference.

    Pilgrims Hospices cares for thousands of local people each year, free of charge, during the most challenging time in their lives. They offer care and support in people’s own homes, in the community and in their inpatient units as well as running a 24-hour advice line.

    20th July 2022

    5 reasons to take part in the Folkestone Downs Challenge

    Pilgrims Hospices’ brand new hiking event, the Folkestone Downs Challenge, takes place on Saturday 3 September 2022.

    Here’s why you should get involved and put your best foot forward for local hospice care.

    See Kent’s South coast like never before!

    The Folkestone Downs Challenge has been designed to showcase the very best of Kent’s spectacular South coast. Starting from the Folkestone Harbour Arm, you’ll climb to the height of Kent’s famous white cliffs and enjoy breath-taking views over the English Channel, Folkestone and Romney Marsh beyond as you follow the chalk ridgeline westward.

    Along the way, you’ll pass Castle Hill, the site of an early Norman fortification, as well as the Folkestone White Horse, before reaching one of the highest points of the North Downs at Tolsford Hill (181m). From there, your trail descends through fields and woodland to the picturesque Lympne Castle, with a chance of glimpsing some exotic animals as you pass by Port Lympne Safari Park. Then, you’ll join the scenic pathways of the Royal Military Canal through Hythe and Sandgate on your return to Folkestone’s historic harbour.

    The carefully curated 36km course is sure to hold more than a few surprises for locals and visitors alike!

    Achieve your fitness and wellness goals

    It’s nothing new that spending time in the great outdoors, walking and being active, does wonders for our physical health, but it doesn’t stop there. Research shows that being outside, particularly in nature, has many benefits for our mental wellbeing as well.

    From a long hike, to a simple lunchtime stroll, walking has been proven effective in reducing anxiety, stress and fatigue, and there is evidence to show that walking in nature improves those results even further. That’s because different parts of our brain activate while in a natural environment. Our mind calms, leading to physiological changes, including reductions in heart rate and blood pressure.

    The activity can lead to improved self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, and physically active people have up to a 30% reduced risk of depression. With all these benefits, it’s little wonder why so many are choosing to pull on their boots and join the Folkestone Downs Challenge this September. 

    Every walker also has access to our bespoke 6-week training plan, designed to get you hiking fit in preparation for the big challenge, meaning you’ll feel 100% ready to hike for the hospices.

    Spend quality time with friends and family

    We all know how tricky it can be to make time in our busy lives to enjoy quality time with those we care about. The Folkestone Downs Challenge is a perfect opportunity for that long overdue catch-up and to have a great day out among friends or family. It’s not a race, the challenge is to complete it, so there’s no need to rush. Enjoy the great views, chat and support each other in achieving something out of the ordinary! Intrepid solo hikers will find lots of friendly, fellow hikers to enjoy the day with too. And together, everyone can reach the finish line as a hospice hero.

    Enjoy a fully-supported day out

    From the moment you receive your very own Pilgrims technical T-shirt, to claiming your medal at the finish line, you’ll enjoy a fantastic level of event support that has become synonymous with Pilgrims Hospices charity hikes. This includes clear route signage, regular refreshment stops, toilet facilities, medical support, a free event information app and more. Not to mention our friendly team of volunteers who’ll be cheering you on throughout your challenge!

    But don’t just take our word for it, here’s what some of our past hikers have said:

    • “Spectacular scenery, superb refreshments, fabulous company, wonderful volunteers, immense sense of achievement.”
    • “The food stops were incredible… the encouragement, friendly and smiling faces at the rest stops made the whole experience fantastic.”
    • “It was all amazing! Route, scenery, weather, signage, refreshments, volunteers, organisation, the whole thing!”

    Make a difference for local people living with incurable illness

    By taking on the Folkestone Downs Challenge, you’ll be directly supporting the care of thousands of local people who are living with an incurable illness. Whether at one of our three inpatient units in Ashford, Canterbury and Thanet, our Therapy Centres, or in patient’s own homes, Pilgrims Hospices is dedicated to providing skilled and compassionate end-of-life care, completely free of charge, to empower patients, together with their family and friends, to live well in mind and body, and make the most of the time they have.

    With around 80% of our funding coming through voluntary contributions from our local community (like sponsorship), by taking on the Folkestone Downs Challenge and going the extra mile, you’ll be making a huge difference to those who need us, now and in the future.

    You can find out more about the Folkestone Downs Challenge, and sign up today, by clicking the button below.

    View the Folkestone Downs Challenge event page

    Each year, Pilgrims Hospices give care and comfort to thousands of people in east Kent who are coming to terms with an illness that sadly cannot be cured. The charity support patients to live life as well as possible until the very end, free from pain and distress.

    18th July 2022

    Pilgrims Hospices: Delivering care and services for 40 years

    In 2022, Pilgrims Hospices celebrate 40 years of end-of-life care for the people of east Kent. The first hospice opened in Canterbury in June 1982, followed by Thanet in 1992, celebrating its 30th anniversary year, and Ashford in 2001, celebrating its 21st year.

    That means plenty to celebrate this year!

    The hospices were the vision of one local nurse, Ann Robertson, the founder and now Pilgrims lifetime President. Ann wanted to make a difference for the people in her community facing terminal illness. Thanks to her devotion, and the help of countless others, today we have almost 200 clinical staff. Together, they support thousands of people each year.

    Pilgrims staff, volunteers, and trustees, old and new gathered on the hospice sites, not only to share in the celebrations but to enjoy the welcome return of the staff, volunteers and supporters thank you event, that hasn’t been held for two years due to COVID.

    Ann Robertson attended the Canterbury, London Road event, sharing her memories with all those present and said: “It is a great privilege to have worked with so many forward-thinking and talented individuals over the years; in the early years, we faced the day to day headache of meeting our financial needs. As the years have passed, we’ve established relationships not only with our generous public but with the business community, who help us to raise the profile of our charity and engage with the wider community.  

    “We remain the welcoming face that will guide people through some of the most difficult times, the support of the community fills our hearts with great joy as we continue our journey to help even more people each year.”

    Karen Warden, Pilgrims Chair of the Board of Trustees, shared Ann’s message with the Ashford and Thanet sites on her behalf.

    We remain the welcoming face that will guide people through some of the most difficult times, the support of the community fills our hearts with great joy as we continue our journey to help even more people each year.

    Ann Robertson, founder of Pilgrims Hospices

    The staff at the hospices are truly community heroes, with more than 2,500 people within their care each year. Over the years, Pilgrims has pioneered groundbreaking research in palliative care, embraced innovative, cutting-edge technology to improve the quality of life for patients, and delivers education and training across east Kent for many other health and social care providers.

    Pilgrims continues to grow from strength to strength, and in order to provide the much-needed care, our clinical staff are supported by an award-winning charity fundraising team, an established network of profitable retail shops, a successful local lottery, and a wealth of talents through its invaluable volunteer workforce.   

    From the very beginning, patients have been at the heart of everything Pilgrims do, and the charity will continue to grow and develop with the help of the community. 

    Helen Bennett, Pilgrims Chief Executive added: “We were delighted to have our remarkable founder and lifetime president with us for this special occasion. Ann welcomed Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother to oversee the opening of the Canterbury hospice in 1982 and we enjoyed sharing some of her special memories of the occasion.

    “We were also delighted to have long-standing supporters with us, some who helped establish Pilgrims with Ann, in particular Richard Davies who was a trustee for many, many years at Pilgrims. He was our Chair of the Board of Trustees and retired in 2020 during COVID. We weren’t able to say good-bye to him in a way we would have wanted to, so we were thrilled to have Richard and his wife Pauline with us.

    Richard Davies with his wife, Pauline


    “The wellbeing of my teams across the sites of Pilgrims Hospices is as important today as ever. We’ve experienced challenging times over the years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has added to the daily workload for everyone, I have seen staff exceed all expectations to ensure patients are kept at the very heart of all that we do.

    “Thank you to all staff, volunteers and supporters from across the hospice sites, we can celebrate in the knowledge that everyone plays an important role within the Pilgrims family.” 

    Karen Warden, current Chair of the Board of Trustees, who joined the Board in 2018 also shared the events with Pilgrims staff and volunteers, she added: “It gives me enormous pleasure, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, to be able to thank everyone who gives so freely of their time and energy to support all that we do. The events on all three sites, are not only to celebrate our respective anniversaries of providing expert care, but to acknowledge and celebrate the invaluable and unwavering commitment our staff and friends make to Pilgrims Hospices.

    “Staff, volunteers, fundraisers, donors, businesses and sponsors all play a part in the delivery and dedication of outstanding care and specialist support to patients and their families, friends and carers. Pilgrims is often likened to a family and I can think of no better analogy.  

    “Here’s to the next 40 years!”

    If you’d like to help Pilgrims celebrate our 40th anniversary year, please visit pilgrimshospices.org/40 to find out how you can get involved.

    You can also click here to donate to our special birthday Facebook fundraiser.

    A full photo album from the events can be found on our Facebook page.

    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 www.pilgrimshospices.org to research our services or find out how you can support the hospices.

    12th July 2022

    Sunflower Memories: Christine’s story

    Christine Ford’s husband, Richard (Dick), was supported by Pilgrims Hospices at the end of his life, so she now dedicates a sunflower in his memory as part of the charity’s Sunflower Memories campaign.

    Here, Christine shares why sunflowers are so special to her.

    Richard (Dick)

    Well, who doesn’t love a sunflower? The most beautiful, cheerful and amazing of all flowers. From dainty little bush varieties to the gigantic specimens loved by competitive types, we all have a space for a sunflower in our hearts. So, the concept of sunflowers as the symbol of remembrance for Pilgrims was genius. 

    My husband, Dick, was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer from a pretty-well asymptomatic start, but it was always clear that we were only looking to palliative care. We had three amazing years, which apart from the first few months of chemo, were almost like normal life! 

    We’d always planned to get a caravan and travel in Europe on retirement. Cancer disrupted our plans, but not entirely. By year three, we just upped and spent most of our time in Spain, as peripheral neuropathy was a bit miserable in our cold damp winters. We drove down in November and flew home every three weeks for chemo. We often chatted and marveled at how much we’d achieved, despite our ages and Dick’s cancer.

    But it had to end, of course. Fortunately for us, it was not a long, protracted time. He went downhill quickly and a chat with the pain management team prepared us and helped us plan. In the last two nights, I had him at home with me; the team chatted to me through the wee small hours, pushing my fears back, and helping me not to panic. When they sent the nurse to assess Richard, she crawled up on the bed next to him, held his hand, and made sure he understood what was happening. 

    From dainty little bush varieties to the gigantic specimens loved by competitive types, we all have a space for a sunflower in our hearts. So, the concept of sunflowers as the symbol of remembrance for Pilgrims was genius. 


    When the hospice ambulance collected us and took us off to Canterbury, one of the team looked at the photo of our granddaughters by the bed and said, “Bring them along” – a thought and gesture so deep in understanding that only their long experience could bring. The time in Canterbury was hardly 24 hours; time for Dick’s son to get to him from Brisbane and be there to chat to his dad. We were both there with him, holding his hands, to the end. We couldn’t have done it without the Pilgrims team.

    So, there you have it. Sunflowers have been part of our lives – cycling through France, riding trains through Northern Europe, popping up unexpectedly in the garden (thanks to the birds) and featuring in bouquets to celebrate all sorts of occasions. You cannot help but smile at a sunflower. Such bright, enthusiastic and optimistic symbols of life. And now they still bring a smile.

    Sunflower Memories events will take place at our hospices in Ashford, Canterbury and Thanet on Saturday 30 July 2022.

    If you’d like to dedicate a sunflower in memory of a loved one, please visit pilgrimshospices.org/sunflowers.

    If you’d prefer to remember from home, please visit our online Memory Wall where you can post pictures and messages in honour of your loved one as part of our annual summer remembrance.

    Pilgrims Hospices cares for thousands of local people each year, free of charge, during the most challenging time in their lives. They offer care and support in people’s own homes, in the community and in their inpatient units as well as running a 24-hour advice line.

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