12th May 2023

    If Dying Matters – then it matters at work, too

    We spend so much of our lives at work, and we shouldn’t have to hide our experiences of death and dying from our colleagues, our peers, or our bosses. Starting a conversation about dying is often not as hard as you might think.

    During Dying Matters Awareness Week, Pilgrims Hospices encourage the community of east Kent to talk about death, dying and grief in the workplace. Each year during the month of May, hospices across the country take time to share support for those struggling with the subject of death and dying. Grief is a natural, normal, and necessary reaction to loss, but one that can feel overwhelming and have a huge impact on someone’s life. 

    It is estimated that as many as nine people will be affected by the death of one person – family, friends, neighbours or a colleague. At some point, every one of us will experience grief, or know someone who has suffered a bereavement. Information and support from Hospice UK indicate that 57% of employees will have experienced a bereavement in the last five years, and every day, more than 600 people leave work to look after older and disabled relatives. And yet, fewer than one in five managers feel very confident supporting someone they manage with a bereavement.

    Sophie Van Walwyk, Pilgrims’ Head of Psychosocial and Bereavement Services said:

    “The hospices’ staff are many and varied, all of whom can at some point be in contact with supporters, shoppers, family members or visitors, who have experienced, or are experiencing sadness due to the loss of someone close to them. We offer any staff and volunteers who regularly have contact with bereaved people, the opportunity to access our Grief Awareness introduction training.

    “We are most particularly interested to ensure our retail colleagues, who work in our shops, drive our vans and support with house clearances, can develop communication skills, to support bereaved people who may be distressed whilst using our shops and services. The feedback from colleagues who’ve been helped to understand how the grief process works, has been really encouraging, so much so, that Pilgrims is launching Grief Awareness Training for businesses and community groups, to help their own staff, and members in supporting colleagues, who are affected by grief following a bereavement. The session includes:

    • Understanding how the grief process works, what normal grief looks like, and when grief reactions may be unhealthy
    • Recognising the need for bereavement support and where to turn
    • Developing communication skills to support bereaved people who may be distressed

    The Grief Awareness training course is available on the following dates:

    Dates and locations:

    • Wednesday 12 July 2023, 14:00-17:00 at the Ann Robertson Centre, 55 London Road, Canterbury CT2 8HQ
    • Thursday 26 October 2023, 16:30-19:30 at the Ann Robertson Centre, 55 London Road, Canterbury CT2 8HQ
    • Tuesday 30 January 2024, 14:00-17:00 at Pilgrims Hospice Ashford, Hythe Road, Willesborough, Ashford TN24 0NE
    • Thursday 25 April 2024, 16:30-19:30 at Pilgrims Hospice Ashford, Hythe Road, Willesborough, Ashford TN24 0NE

    Cost: £50 per person

    To book your place, please email education@pilgrimshospices.org or call 01227 812 616.

    Bespoke sessions can be arranged for up to 20 delegates.

    If you or someone you know is affected by grief and would like to know more about bereavement support, please visit: pilgrimshospices.org/bereavement-services

    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. 

    11th May 2023

    Coronation Celebrations

    It was with great pleasure, Pilgrims Hospices sent congratulations to His Majesty King Charles III and Queen Camilla on their Coronation, which took place on Saturday 6th May 2023.

    Along with thousands of organisations across the country, Pilgrims celebrated with colleagues, volunteers, patients and their families, to wish the new King and Queen good health and strength to continue with their valuable support for charities across the UK.  We hope their roles continue to reflect the needs of people now, and in the future, while keeping the longstanding  traditions and pageantry that we treasure.

    We wanted our patients and visitors to share in the experience of the Coronation, so decked the reception areas, and corridors around the hospices with union jack bunting. Floral tributes to their Majesty’s reflected in red, white and blue, greeted people upon arrival at the hospices, in Ashford, Canterbury and Thanet.

    Staff baked cookies for a Coronation competition, took afternoon tea prepared by volunteer bakers, and the catering teams provided Coronation cupcakes for everyone throughout the celebration weekend.

    The Wellbeing team took service users art therapy sessions to the next level, with amazing regal paintings displayed across the hospice sites.

    Our services, like those of our Monarch, are also deep-rooted within the community, and whilst we’ve shared in the celebrations, we’ve also reflected on our own important values.  The selfless work of our Founder and lifelong President Ann Robertson OBE, has brought us to the point where we can care for thousands of people each year, who need end-of-life care and support.  Visionary local nurse Ann wanted to make a difference for the people in her community facing terminal illness.  Her passion to raise awareness and services, launched the charity more than 40 years ago. 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.

    CEO Helen Bennett said: “Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, opened the hospice in Canterbury on June 8th 1982.  We at Pilgrims’ are very proud of our royal connection, and have delighted in watching her grandson’s investiture in Westminster Abbey. Everyone at Pilgrims made an extra effort to make the celebration weekend special for our patients, visitors, and the care teams who worked tirelessly throughout the holiday weekend.”

    Pilgrims staff, volunteers, and trustees, old and new, wish to send our warmest wishes and congratulations to King Charles III and Queen Camilla on their splendid day.



    9th May 2023

    Drumming for Wellbeing

    The Wellbeing team at Pilgrims Hospices were delighted to welcome Samba Pelo Mar, the Whitstable based community samba band, to the Wellbeing group, to share their drumming and rhythms with service users, along with staff members who came along to enjoy the uplifting music.

    Ann Day, Musical Director

    Kim and Kelly, Pilgrims Wellbeing Practitioners said: “We know drumming has a positive effect on anxiety, grief, fatigue and behavioural issues. We loved being involved with the group where everyone had an opportunity to be creative with the drums and shakers.

    “We promote wellbeing to everyone, patients and staff alike, and the hand-drumming is such a great way of self-expression, positive psychology and friendship.”

    Samba Pelo Mar means ‘Samba by the Sea’ in Portuguese. Samba as a music genre has its origins in Rio de Janeiro, the former capital of Brazil. Based on a Samba style, their music is adapted and fused with world rhythms composed by Ann Day, Musical Director.

    Samba Pelo Mar actively supports charitable causes, and over the years has raised more than £17,000 for Pilgrims Hospices care.

    Pilgrims Hospices care for thousands of 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.

    5th May 2023

    Congratulations to Their Majesties, King Charles III and Queen Camilla

    Pilgrims Hospices sends its warmest congratulations to King Charles III and Queen Camilla on their coronation.

    Chief Executive of Pilgrims Hospices, Helen Bennett said: “On behalf of everyone at Pilgrims Hospices, the Board of Trustees and I, we send our heartfelt congratulations to Their Majesties, King Charles III and Queen Camilla, as they share this momentous day with the country.

    “The United Kingdom is marking the occasion with events that will see people take to the streets in celebrations. We at Pilgrims, will share the Coronation day with our patients, their families, and friends; a number of which will remember the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. We will be taking time to help everyone celebrate, and pay tribute to the King and Queen in their own special way.

    “Celebrations can also be a time of reflection; our hospice gardens are open to anyone who needs a space for reflection and quiet contemplation.”

    Visit our website to see a full range of Pilgrims Hospices services:


    Each year, Pilgrims Hospices provide 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 end of life, free from pain and distress.

    4th May 2023

    Spring was in the air for Cycle Challenge on Bank Holiday Sunday

    More than 1,000 cyclists enjoyed a beautiful Spring Bank Holiday Sunday exploring the stunning Kent countryside at the 13th annual Pilgrims Hospices Cycle Challenge.

    Riders of all abilities took part, collectively cycling more than 76,000 miles to support the skilled and compassionate end-of-life care the charity provides across east Kent.

    So far this year’s event has raised almost £100,000; with indications showing the total could reach as much as £110,000 for Pilgrims, once all donations and Gift Aid are finalised.

    Individuals, families, friends, cycling clubs, local businesses and services throughout Kent, took on the 30, 50, 75, 100 or 125-mile challenge. Bright skies and dry roads were the perfect conditions for Pilgrims’ flagship fundraising event. Ever since the event first took place in 2010, supporters have raised an astonishing £1.2 million pounds to help people who need Pilgrims’ care within our community. 

    All routes started and finished at Pilgrims Event Village at the University of Kent, near Canterbury. Returning cyclists could enjoy a celebratory atmosphere, sports massage and well-earned refreshments after collecting their commemorative medal.

    Robert Grew, Pilgrims event organiser said: “It was brilliant to see such a strong show of support for Pilgrims! We congratulate all the riders in achieving their goals and for their incredible support for the end-of-life care Pilgrims provides.

    “It’s a privilege to organise the event and, seeing it year after year, I’m always reminded how much of a team effort it is. Our army of volunteers are just outstanding and gave up their bank holiday weekend to help make the whole experience safe and enjoyable for our riders. I can’t thank them enough! Nor the waves of cyclists who puff their way around the course in support each year.”

    “I must also thank Kent Sport, Biketart, Barretts and London Array for their wonderful support for the event, which enables us to maximise the amount of funds we can raise for hospice care.”

    Check out a selection of event photos on the Pilgrims Hospices Facebook page, or view and download the full set here.

    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.  

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