28th June 2023

    Supporters hike the Pilgrims Way Challenge for local hospice care

    Wye Village Hall welcomed 630 excited runners and walkers on Saturday 10th June, all gathering to undertake the 5th annual Pilgrims Way Challenge. This much-loved and well-established fundraising event brought many regular ramblers, along with those who were new to the challenge, out into the brilliant sunshine to support their local hospice charity.

    Trekkers enjoyed a 25km, 35km, or 55km hike through ancient woodland, rolling fields, and picturesque villages along the North Downs Way national trail to the historic city of Canterbury; the finish line for 25km participants, the start point for 35km participants, and the mid-point for the 55km hikers, who headed onward towards a coastal finish inside Dover Castle. Some even ran the distance, with our fastest finisher completing the event in just 5 ½ hrs!

    It was such a great day!

    Robert – Pilgrims

    The event is set to raise more than £105,000; a figure that will help Pilgrims Hospices to provide more than 4,200 hours of specialist nursing care at one of their inpatient units in Ashford, Canterbury and Thanet. Many people chose to walk the Pilgrims Way Challenge in memory of a loved one, in appreciation of the care they experienced from Pilgrims.

    In true Pilgrims style, participants were supported throughout the journey with well-stocked rest stops, comprehensive route signage and expert medical support. Walkers were particularly delighted upon arriving for a well-deserved seat at Chartham Hatch, where they were treated to delicious cakes, strawberries and tea.

    Robert Grew, Pilgrims Events & Digital Fundraising Manager said: “It was such a great day. We had hundreds of walkers of all abilities taking on the challenge and I’m in awe of every single one of them. Despite some challenging temperatures, our supporters really went the extra mile, and it was humbling to see how far people push themselves to achieve something not just for themselves, but for the benefit of others. It really is a deeply personal test, both physically and emotionally, and to see what it meant to them when they finally reached the finish line was inspiring. Collectively, our supporters walked over 23,400 kilometres, which is the equivalent of walking from London to Athens more than 8 times!


    “I’d like to say a huge thank you to the army of Pilgrims volunteers who gave their time and energy to support our walkers, whether it was with marshalling the route, preparing refreshments or encouraging people along the way, we couldn’t have done it without you.”

    Visit Pilgrims Hospices Facebook page to see more photos from the day.

    Fancy getting involved with a Pilgrims event? Check out our event calendar to find out what’s coming up, including:

    Folkestone Downs Challenge Saturday 2 September 2023

    Thanet 5k Colour Run, Sunday 1 October 2023

    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 Services.

    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.

    19th June 2023

    Gemma shares memories that she’ll keep forever

    Gemma tells us about her dad, Alan, and the memories of his last weeks that she’ll keep forever. 

    My dad, Alan Stockley was a quiet gentle giant of a man who kept himself to himself, not one to complain even though he has been in pain for as long as I can remember. A kind and caring dad, grandad, brother and friend always willing to help anyone he could.

    Dad suddenly started to become more poorly than usual at the beginning of September 2022, after two weeks in and out of hospital he was finally admitted to Deal ward after being given his cancer diagnosis, he spent the next 4 weeks there. Dad was eventually moved to Pilgrims Hospice Thanet on 25th October.

    At first Dad was very apprehensive about being in the hospice, but as time went on, he felt more relaxed, ordering his meals, and making sure he had some jelly and ice cream for pudding. He enjoyed a good old chat and a laugh with all the nurses and doctors who cared for him.

    Many patients came and went, Dad would speak to people one day, and a day or so later their bed would be empty. We all knew what this meant. This is what happens in the hospice but it’s still hard to see.

    The experience of the hospice was sad yet refreshing, knowing that Dad had the best care in the final moments of his life.


    Family and friends would come to visit, and as Dad was in the hospice for 5 weeks and 1 day the staff were used to seeing the regulars. Swapping at regular intervals we made the most of the time we had been given. Dad even struck up a good friendship with another long term patient in the next bed, swapping Foxes glacier mints, reading each other’s newspapers, and watching the World Cup together.

    Dad always had a cheeky sense of humour; one evening the man in the bed next to him did not have any visitors, so he asked him if he wanted some? His fellow patient replied: “Of course I would”, so we pulled up two extra chairs. Now my Dad knew that we were only allowed two to a bedside! Shortly after a nurse came in to do her checks as she normally would, she took a few steps into the ward and then turned round quickly, “Erm what are we doing here??” Dad quick as a flash said: “Nothing to do with me they are his visitors!” With that Dad chuckled like a little school boy, with the nurse telling him he was cheeky! Memories like this will keep with us forever knowing that right till the very end my Dad could still laugh and joke.

    The experience of the hospice was sad yet refreshing, knowing that Dad had the best care in the final moments of his life. The staff made me feel welcome every day when I visited after work at the same time each evening; the volunteers made me a cuppa, and also asking if I was ok. The nurses were always on hand to ask anything, and always answered any questions I had, also making sure they told me things that Dad wasn’t too sure on or didn’t understand. The hospice doctors and care team were also very supportive and forthcoming with factual information, they gave me and Dad so much support with trying to get him home, but unfortunately this never happened, and he spent his last days in the hospice.

    The dedication and support of the staff meant so much to us all, for this we will always be truly grateful.

    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.


    Broadstairs super-sized deckchair is a Pilgrims’ fundraising winner

    John Nicolls from Broadstairs, had the idea of placing a super-sized deckchair on the Broadstairs harbour in 2018; the idea was to raise funds to support his local hospice care charity, Pilgrims Hospices. To date, the deckchair has raised an incredible £6,637.22 from the generosity of local residents and tourists over the past six years.

    Nick Anselmi, Karen Kenward and John Nicolls

    John said: “It’s always a real pleasure supporting a charity that is so close to my heart. Over the years it’s been invaluable to many, I am happy to help in any way I can, and it’s been great to follow its success.”

    Karen Kenward, Pilgrims Hospices Community Fundraising Manager said: “It’s always a delight to meet up with John; his passion for our charity is overwhelming, and he is always so very keen to help support in any way he can.

    John Nicholls

    “His idea has worked very well, and it’s wonderful to see both children and adults having their photos taken in the chair, having fun, and popping a donation in as a thank you.

    “I would also like to thank Nick Anselmi who has also helped support the chair from York Gate Ice Cream Parlour, Broadstairs, along with each and every one of you, who has made a donation to help support our charity. We will continue to watch its success throughout this summer too.”

    It’s always a real pleasure supporting a charity that is so close to my heart


    We take great pride in the fact that all our services are provided completely free of charge.  We receive over 75% of our funding from the local community and it is entirely due to the kindness of people like you that we are able to provide the care we do. Your support is ensuring people living with a terminal illness in east Kent can access the quality care and comfort they deserve. As always, we are only able to provide our services, free of charge, thanks to the generosity of our family of supporters, which you are an important part of. Together we can, and will, continue to make a difference.

    We’re only able to provide vital, compassionate care across east Kent with the help of our dedicated supporters.

    Fundraising for Pilgrims Hospices to make a difference in your community.

    If you have a question or idea relating to fundraising for Pilgrims Hospices, please email fundraising@pilgrimshospices.org. Or if your question is about an event or challenge organised by Pilgrims Hospices please call  01227 812 609.

    If you’re planning your own event please tell us what you’re planning

    Even if you’re only in the early stages of planning your fundraising, we’d love to hear from you!

    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.

    1st June 2023

    Volunteering is Good for Your Wellbeing

    Sue and Tony Thompson from Herne have a wealth of volunteering experience with the Herne Bay Pilgrims Hospices shop.

    Together they have amounted more than 40 years of valuable time and skills.  They took some time away from looking after customers on the shop floor, to tell us a little about themselves and what makes volunteering special for them.

    Tony who is now 83 years young, and originally from North East Durham said: “I love it, I’ve always kept myself busy, and being part of the hospice shop team is an important part of my weekly routine.

    “I’ve had an interesting career; after school I worked in the coal mines until I was 20, then joined the Royal Marines as a commando and spent nine years, travelling the world.  I met my lovely wife Sue, when the marines were stationed in Deal, we were together for a few months, before I went off to sea, when I came back we married.  Time at sea was sometimes for extended periods; after we had our first daughter, I was away at sea for two and half years. Thereafter, I spent 27 years in the prison service before I retired.”

    Sue is 77 and joined Pilgrims retail volunteer team when she retired some years ago. She said: “I had a career in retail as a manager, and decided to retire early to spend more time with my husband Tony, after he retired early from the prison service. However, I felt a bit too young to completely retire, and thought about volunteering in a charity shop. I knew the Pilgrims Hospices shop, I had often popped in for a browse. I particularly liked to find something special within the bric-a-brac section. I approached the shop in Herne Bay to offer my services, and was accepted as a volunteer, and before I knew it, I was part of the team.

    “I started with a few hours, and then it became a day, and sometimes more if needed. That was about 24 years ago, I can’t imagine not doing it now!

    “As time went on, I was asked to take on the role of keeping the shop running smoothly, as I’d retail management experience, I was happy to do this. After some time, we needed to recruit a further volunteer to help man the till space; I asked Tony if he’d like to consider joining me as part of the team, which he did, and we’ve been volunteering together for around 20 years now and we’ve never looked back.”

    Volunteering is such a positive thing to do –


    Tony added: “I really like the experience of being around people, and talking to regular and new customers. Customers come along to browse and have a chat, and we do our best to make everyone feel really welcome, it must work because they come back regularly!

    “Volunteering is such a positive thing to do, and an important part of our lifestyle, we really enjoy our time in the shop. I’ve enjoyed the volunteer work at Pilgrims even more than some of the jobs I’ve had over the years.”

    Adele Mahan, Pilgrims shop manager said: “Sue and Tony are real ambassadors for Pilgrims Hospices, and are totally dedicated to the Herne Bay store. As a new manager, they were and continue to be a great support to myself, and after volunteering for so long there isn’t much they don’t know about the shop.

    Congratulations to them both on the amazing achievement of over 40 years of volunteering.”

    Sue and Tony volunteer at the hospice shop two days each week, and always do their shifts together. The popular couple often have regular shoppers popping in to say hello and catch up, the shop is full of laughter, customers sharing stories and shopping tips. “Quite often people that we don’t know join in with the conversations, which is lovely, we both agree that we’ve made many friends over the years with Pilgrims shoppers.” Sue added.

    Alongside serving customers at the till, Tony has the important job of PAT tests electrical equipment donations, in order ensure items are safe for sale.

    Sue told us: “It’s like Christmas day every day, at the Pilgrims shop, just like having a Christmas stocking every day. People are so generous with their donations, we never know what we’re going to unpack next. Often you can hear the team say ‘how would you wear this’ or we may hear a gasp of excitement as someone opens a donated box of bric-a-brac treats.

    I’ve encouraged my friends to join us as volunteers too –


    “We laugh lots, make new friends with other volunteers and customers, and feel very fortunate to be doing something so worthwhile for the charity. We can honestly say we love it, and have so much fun, we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t.

    “I’ve encouraged my friends to join us as volunteers too.”

    If you have some time and feel you have skills to offer, why not trying volunteering?  Sue and Tony are perfect examples of how to meet new people get involved in interesting conversations and make new friends while doing something really positive.

    You don’t have to give up too much time, just a much or little as suits you.

    Volunteers truly make a difference to the lives of people across east Kent who are living with incurable illness.

    People are inspired and motivated to support us for lots of reasons. Many of our volunteers have personal experience of the palliative care and support we offer to patients and their families; some have a special interest or skill that makes a valuable contribution to Pilgrims. Volunteering can also help you to gain new skills in an area you’ve always wanted to develop.

    As a Pilgrims volunteer, you’ll feel valued, gain new skills, and build confidence. We have a variety of roles available and are always looking for additional talented and motivated people to join our volunteer team.

    We would love to hear from you! https://www.pilgrimshospices.org/get-involved/volunteer/

    Volunteers’ Week takes place 1 – 7 June every year. It’s a chance to celebrate and say thank you for the contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK.  https://volunteersweek.org/



    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.

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