Hannah Austin (28) from Ebbsfleet experienced Pilgrims Hospices first-hand when her dad, Pete Austin (57), was cared for by the charity. The family asked loved ones to donate to Pilgrims in lieu of funeral flowers, hoping to raise £200 in Pete’s memory; they surpassed this target, raising a phenomenal £2,020 for the charity that provides vital end-of-life care for people across east Kent.
Pete, a retired escalator engineer from Birchington, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October 2019. Hannah said: “He enjoyed a healthy vegan diet, keeping fit, socialising down the pub with family and friends and going on holidays with my mum Viv. They were happily married for 35 years. He was a kind family man who loved life.”
She added: “Dad was very brave and went through all the treatment he could, including three months of intense chemotherapy. Unfortunately, even though he fought so hard and did incredibly well, it did not work for him, and the decision was made to stop all treatment.”
At this point, Pilgrims stepped in to support Pete and his family. The charity organised doctors and nurses to visit every day and keep him comfortable, enabling him to stay at home and be cared for by loved ones. Hannah said: “They supported my dad and the whole family; they would regularly phone my mum to check she was doing okay. Pilgrims were always just a phone call away if we had any questions or concerns.”
“I found out I was pregnant the week my dad passed away and luckily I managed to tell him, which was the last time I saw him awake. Even though it’s sad as we know how much he wanted grandchildren, having my little girl has helped our whole family get through it. My brother’s wife was also pregnant at the time, so now my mum has her hands full with two grandchildren, which she loves!”
To me, Pilgrims means a safe place for support when you need it the most. As we received such brilliant support, and because we know Pilgrims relies so much on donations, we wanted to give back so they can continue their good work supporting other families in the future.
Pete passed away peacefully on 31 May 2020. Due to COVID restrictions, only a small number of people could attend his funeral in person, so the family asked loved ones to donate to Pilgrims via a JustGiving page instead of sending flowers. Initially aiming to raise £200, their hopes were far exceeded.
Hannah said: “We were astounded to raise over £2,000 for Pilgrims, which shows just how loved our dad was.”
“To me, Pilgrims means a safe place for support when you need it the most. As we received such brilliant support, and because we know Pilgrims relies so much on donations, we wanted to give back so they can continue their good work supporting other families in the future.”