Supporters hot-foot it for Pilgrims Hospices this bonfire season!
Pilgrims Hospices sponsored Firewalk series returned for its sixth year over the bonfire season and saw almost 90 brave supporters face their fears to conquer the coals. The annual event challenges people to walk barefoot over red-hot wood embers measuring 800 degrees and raise much-needed funds for Pilgrims’ specialist, end-of-life care!
The daring dash took place in three locations across east Kent – in Ashford on 29 October, Canterbury on 30 October and Broadstairs on 6 November – and is expected to raise more than £12,000 for the local hospice charity with more sponsorship to follow.
A total of 932 Pilgrims supporters have taken on the ‘hottest, shortest sponsored walk in the world’ since 2016 to raise a staggering £210,358 for those living with an incurable illness in our community.
Robert Grew, Pilgrims Events Manager, said: “It was fantastic to see so many supporters, quite literally, stepping out of their comfort zone to brave the barefoot firewalk for Pilgrims Hospices. A huge thank you to everyone who joined us and faced their fear to raise vital funds for the care of patients in our local community. You’ve followed in the toasted footsteps of more than 900 Pilgrims supporters before you and certainly earned your place in the Hall of Flame!”
Motivational speaker and firewalk specialist Cliff Mann, held a training seminar for participants before they stepped out to face the flames.
Cliff said: “Firewalking is a huge personal challenge, I’ve been teaching people the skills for more than 30 years now. It’s great to be back and empowering Pilgrims supporters to take on the hottest, shortest sponsored walk in the world. It’s always a great pleasure to help charities raise vital funds while helping people to achieve something truly life changing.”
Chris Laming Westbrook (Margate) 1
Robert added: “We’d like to thank our services team at the Ashford hospice for making it possible to hold our event in the hospice grounds; the University of Kent Sport for hosting us in Canterbury, and our latest venue for Firewalk, Thanet Wanderers Rugby Club at Broadstairs, for making us welcome and giving everyone a very special night to remember.
“Sponsorship money will continue to come in for some time yet, we will be able to announce a final figure around the festive season.”
There are some great challenges and events on Pilgrims Hospices website: pilgrimshospices.org/events. Why not take a look and help Pilgrims Hospices reach even more people who need our specialist care?
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.
11th October 2021
Martyn braves Firewalk and other challenges for local hospice care
Martyn Battrick from Hawkinge near Folkestone experienced Pilgrims Hospices first-hand when his mother, Mary (Madge) Elliott Battrick, was cared for at the Ashford hospice in 2004.
To give back and say thank you, Martyn is a keen fundraiser for Pilgrims; to date, he has raised more than £500 for local hospice care.
Martyn completed the Pilgrims Way Challenge in June 2021, and will brave a barefoot Firewalkacross red-hot coals held in the Ashford hospice gardens on 29 October 2021. He also plans to take on the Three Peaks Challenge for Pilgrims in 2022. His fantastic fundraising will enable the charity to keep providing vital, compassionate care to people across east Kent when they need it the most.
Mary was born in Waterhouses, County Durham on 26 February 1922. During WW2, she was an ambulance and heavy vehicle driver for the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). She met her husband, David, at that time in Hull, Yorkshire, where he was working as a Naval Officer. They married in 1945 and enjoyed a rich and varied life, raising a family and travelling around the world, and living in Plymouth, Devon and Durban, South Africa – where David sadly died on 16 June 1997.
On the morning of that day, Martyn took on and successfully completed his biggest challenge to date, the famous Comrades Marathon (a 90km ultramarathon) with an 11 hour cut-off, in his dad’s name.
Martyn said: “If you don’t make it you get nothing; no medal, no ribbon, no certificate – nothing! My time was 10h 44m 01s. I’d seen Dad in hospital the day before and told him I was a little unsure of my ability to do the run (having never run that far before – most was 56km – and I’d never previously failed at anything I had set out to do). We expected Dad to come home from hospital on the Monday, but he died of a myocardial infarct at 04:30 that day, whilst I was walking in the dark to the start of the race. They called me on the PA system but I didn’t hear it.
“Dad’s last words to me as he called me back from leaving when Mum arrived to sit with him were, “Get the medal for me”. I heard of his death at about the 55km mark but resolved to get the medal first and foremost and deal with the sadness later. I got the medal and it was cremated with him.”
Mary found it difficult being without her life partner. She returned to England and settled in Folkestone; near to her eldest son, Michael, and her daughter, Barbie (who had also recently returned to England from Durban). David would have been 100 years old on 22 October 2021.
Later in life, after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Mary spent time in Pilgrims Hospice Ashford where she died on 22 March 2004.
Martyn continued: “I was still overseas when Mum went into the hospice, though I had visited her a couple of months before then. After her diagnosis, she moved in with my brother and sister-in-law, Michael and Ros, in Folkestone and remained in their care until she was admitted to Pilgrims.
“My eldest son, David, travelled from South Africa to see his grandma in the hospice.
“Michael and Ros visited daily. After Mum had a stroke they and Barbie kept up a 24-hour vigil at her bedside. The medical staff were truly excellent, and could not have been more kind, helpful, and understanding. We were more impressed than we could ever say. Thank you.”
Martyn now enjoys supporting Pilgrims by taking on fundraising challenges for the charity.
He said: “I entered the Pilgrims Way Challenge 2021 with my niece, Samantha (Mum’s granddaughter), and her husband, Steve. We chose the 55km route from Wye to Dover – the 25km and 35km were out of the question for me, I’m an all or nothing man! – and completed it in under 11 hours, including stops. We’ll likely do it again!
“Now we know about the various events Pilgrims offer, we will do more. I’ve already signed up for theFirewalk challenge on 29 October 2021 and plan to tackle the Three Peaks Challenge in mid-2022. We’re supported in our fundraising by family, both here and overseas, and others including staff at Saga in Folkestone, where Samantha works.”
Martyn added: “Pilgrims is a kind and caring organisation, there to comfort and support those who are facing their last days; the benefit of knowing that the best that can be done is in place gives relief and solace to families at a very difficult time.
“As a family, we know from personal experience about Pilgrims’ wonderful work; we fundraise so that this can continue. We also know others who have been supported by the charity, and we have friends who have volunteered for Pilgrims, too. It’s a local charity for the people of Kent – our home.”
Pilgrims Events Manager, Robert Grew, explained: “It’s supporters like Martyn and his family that mean Pilgrims can continue being there for the many others that will need our care in the future. By taking on such challenges and raising vital sponsorship, he is enabling others to receive the skilled and compassionate end-of-life care they deserve, just like Mary.
“I’m sure thoughts of his mother will bolster his nerve and spur him across the Firewalk on 29 October. Good luck, Martyn!”
Each year Pilgrims Hospices give care and comfort to over 2,500 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.
Chris Laming from Westbrook near Margate will take on her fifth Firewalk for Pilgrims Hospices on Friday 13 March 2020 in Canterbury. After completing her first Firewalk in 2016, she became hooked; each walk leaves her feeling inspired and proud to support her local hospice charity.
Chris, who works as an administrator at the University of Kent in Canterbury and is also a qualified counsellor, chooses to support Pilgrims for a very personal reason:
“A close family friend was cared for by Pilgrims four years ago, and I was incredibly moved to hear his family speak so highly of the dignified and compassionate care both he and they received in his final days, and the comfort that brought them in the depth of their loss. As a counsellor, I see clients whose grief and loss has become complex and traumatic, often because the practical and emotional support they needed at the time simply wasn’t possible. But significantly, too, we simply don’t talk openly enough about death and bereavement; so misconception and fear prevent us from making the most of the time we have left.”
Although I’ve done firewalking before, I know that when I’m standing at the start of that runway and it’s my turn next, it’s going to be just as much of a challenge as it was the first time around. But the whole experience and sense of achievement is totally exhilarating – you’ll never regret it.”
Chris heard about the charity’s Firewalk event and felt inspired to challenge herself whilst giving back at the same time – and she hasn’t looked back since. She said:
“I can’t lie, I’m now totally hooked! From that very first walk I’ve been like ‘a moth to the flame’ so to speak, taking part every year and feeling just as inspired and proud of what I’m achieving, both personally and for Pilgrims, with every single walk. The camaraderie and mutual support from other participants on the night is absolutely incredible; it’s an awesome experience and a totally unique challenge.
“I’m also fortunate to have an amazingly supportive family and close friends who always get behind me, and though I haven’t convinced many of them to join me yet, they are always encouraging and incredibly generous with their sponsorship.”
Driven by a belief that better end-of-life care is possible for everyone, and that dying should be talked about more openly, Chris hopes that her fundraising will help families to feel informed and empowered in the time they have left together.
She added: “It’s my passionate belief that holistic services that support the needs of people facing terminal and life-limiting conditions (and their families, carers and friends) are an absolute necessity. Pilgrims helps to make all these things possible, but without support from local communities these invaluable services wouldn’t exist. If we want them to continue then we have to do something about it, and that’s where people like myself can make a real difference.
“The fact that this is my fifth Pilgrims Firewalk and I haven’t spontaneously combusted yet might just be encouragement and reassurance enough for those teetering on the brink of registering! Life is far too short not to take chances or step out of your comfort zone. Although I’ve done firewalking before, I know that when I’m standing at the start of that runway and it’s my turn next, it’s going to be just as much of a challenge as it was the first time around. But the whole experience and sense of achievement is totally exhilarating – you’ll never regret it.”
Feeling inspired to follow in Chris’ footsteps and face the flames?
Firewalk returns on 13 March in Canterbury and 14 March in Ashford.
Visit pilgrimshospices.org/firewalk to sign up now to dash across red hot embers and achieve the impossible. Advance entry is £20, available until 8 March 2020. You can also sign up on the night. Entry includes training seminar, firewalking experience and certificate.
Pilgrims volunteer Lin will take on the hottest shortest sponsored walk in the world
Lin Parsons from Kennington, Ashford has been a valued member of the volunteer team at Pilgrims Hospices for eight years. Lin’s mum was cared for at the Ashford hospice in 2009, before then, she had little idea of what the hospice was or what services it provided.
Lin told us: “My mum received such wonderful care at the hospice, I was very keen to offer my services as a volunteer to help in any way I could.”
Although she felt the need to be involved as soon as possible after the loss of her mum, the support services around Pilgrims care insists families and friends who’ve suffered a loss, take sufficient time to grieve and re-adjust to their loss before taking up a commitment as a Pilgrims volunteer.
Lin added: “In the meantime, I gave my support to Pilgrims in other ways by getting involved with fundraising activities such as Pilgrims night-time walks and I play Pilgrims Lottery. When I was ready, I joined the regular volunteers as part of the hospice reception team.”
My mum received such wonderful care at the hospice.
Pensioner Lin, was employed for 28 years as a barmaid in the Ashford Golf Club: “I loved working with people, I’m a very social person, my job at the golf club allowed me to be flexible as my family grew up.
“I still love to be around people so, my role with Pilgrims, greeting visitors and helping with the refreshment trollies and chatting with patients is so rewarding.” Lin added.
Lin keeps busy with some shifts at the golf club, looking after her grandchildren and walking her dog, but she has still found time to take part in Pilgrims Firewalk on Saturday 14 March.
“I’m really looking forward to taking on this challenge, I’ve never done anything quite like this before. I was encouraged to join the team of nurses and Pilgrims staff who have already signed up to take part. I thought, here goes!
“I’m encouraging my friends and family to sponsor me to brave the daring dash across the red-hot wood embers. I know the money I raise will truly help to make a difference to people who need hospice care the most.
“My role as a volunteer allows me to see first-hand some of the amazing work carried out by the nursing staff.
“It really is the perfect place for end of life care and I am so pleased to support such a worthwhile charity.”
You can support Lin’s Firewalk for Pilgrims by sponsoring her JustGiving page.
Robert Grew, Pilgrims Challenge Events Manager said: “We applaude Lin for everything she does and for hot-footing it across the fire for Pilgrims Hospices. We are pleased to bring the event back for the 5th year. It’s the ultimate test of courage and perfect challenge for any fitness level. Our supporters tell us time and time again just how much they love it.”
If you would like to take part in the Firewalk, please click here and register for the shortest hottest, shortest, sponsored walk in the world.
Each year Pilgrims Hospices give care and comfort to over 2,400 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.
22nd January 2020
Hospice staff hot-foot it for Pilgrims Hospices Firewalk
Staff at Pilgrims Hospices will join members of the public in braving a barefoot walk across red-hot wood embers for the local charity at its firewalking event on Saturday 14 March 2020 within the grounds of the Ashford hospice.
The team know first-hand how much the organisation relies on community fundraising in order to care for thousands of people across east Kent each year who are living with an incurable illness. Led by Healthcare Assistant Polly Parrott, they have decided to go above and beyond their daily duties to further support the charity they hold so dear to their hearts.
Polly said: “My mum and three brothers all died from cancer. Sadly, they didn’t have the opportunity to experience hospice care.
“Pilgrims’ care is exceptional. It’s an amazing place to work; we offer a safe, clean and peaceful environment. It is a privilege to care for people at the end of their life and to offer support to their families, too.”
I really appreciate how dependent Pilgrims is on fundraising. I’d like to think that if I ever needed this care myself it would be here for me. That’s why I want to give back by facing the Firewalk, so that these services continue to be available.
Polly and her colleagues are looking forward to taking on their Firewalk challenge. She added: “I’ve hesitated over signing up for several years. I usually get “cold feet” and regret not taking part, so this year I’m definitely doing it. Watch out, here I come!
“I really appreciate how dependent Pilgrims is on fundraising. I’d like to think that if I ever needed this care myself it would be here for me. That’s why I want to give back by facing the Firewalk, so that these services continue to be available for those in need.”
This year’s firewalkers will join a ‘Hall of Flame’ alongside more than 660 people who have faced the flames for Pilgrims Hospices since the event began in 2016, raising over £170,000.
Could you face the flames and achieve the impossible?
Pilgrims Hospices Firewalk returns to Canterbury and Ashford in March 2020.
Right now, early bird entry for ‘the hottest, shortest sponsored walk in the world’ is just £17. But hurry, places are limited and selling out fast, so sign up today to avoid disappointment: www.pilgrimshospices.org/firewalk
Entry includes training seminar, firewalking experience and certificate.
Brave soles, take on Firewallk challenge to raise in excess of £25,000 for Pilgrims
Over 110 brave supporters faced their fears and conquered Pilgrims Hospices Firewalk at Canterbury University and the Ashford hospice on Friday 1 March and Saturday 2 March 2019.
The challenge involved walking barefoot over red-hot wood embers measuring 800 degrees!
Many were there putting their best foot forward to support the charity who provided end of life cared for friends and loved ones. All those taking part enjoyed a motivational training seminar by firewalk specialist Cliff Mann, before stepping outside to face the flames.
Firewalking is a huge personal challenge.
Cliff Mann – Firewalk Expert
Cliff said: “Firewalking is a huge personal challenge, I’ve been teaching people the skills for 30 years now and I want everyone who makes the walk to raise funds for their chosen charity to have an amazing time and feel completely empowered by the experience.
“I’m proud to say that over the years my training has helped participants to raise over 1.5 million for charitable causes.”
Onlookers were treated to a dazzling display by ‘warm-up act’, Paul Incredible, who performed an array of extraordinary feats in a 15-minute fire show.
Paul said: “It’s a pleasure to be back again for Pilgrims Hospices Firewalk. Through personal experience, I know the importance of the end of life care given and the additional support offered to friends and families who have been touch by their services.”
Robert Grew, Events Fundraiser for Pilgrims Hospices, explains: “It was great to see so many people overcoming such a primal fear and hot-footing it across the coals in support of the hospices. You could see how much it meant to each person once they had made it across; they were beaming from ear to ear! And so, they should be! They’ve all raised an incredible amount of money; vital funds that will mean Pilgrims Hospices can continue to be there for people living with an incurable illness and their families right across east Kent.”
PR Jayne Dunsbee, Lord Mayor Colin Spooner And Frances Smith
Donna Lee Norton (41) And Jane Hedges (49) Whitstable In Honour Of And Motivated By Donna Lee's Friend Who Was Cared For At PHC And Died Week Before Firewalk
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He added: “We’d like to thank the University of Kent Sport for hosting us in Canterbury; I’m pleased that so many supporters were there to cheer our brave walkers across the burning embers.
“Also our thanks to Pilgrims Hospices services team who made it possible to host the event within the hospice grounds in Ashford. It made a very special venue and I’m pleased that so many supporters were there to cheer our brave walkers across the burning embers.”
“Thank you to all of our fabulous volunteers who gave their time freely to look after and feed spectators on the night too.
“Everyone’s help has been key in making the event possible.”
“Sponsorship money is still coming in currently and we can’t wait to announce the final total later this spring,” Robert added.
There are some great challenges and events here Pilgrims Hospices Why not take a look and help Pilgrims help even more people who need specialist care?
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.