6th September 2023

    Hikers go the extra mile at the Folkestone Downs Challenge!

    On Saturday 2nd September, over 400 brave hikers put their best foot forward to conquer the Folkestone Downs Challenge for Pilgrims Hospices.

    The sun was shining as supporters tackled the challenging 36km course, taking them along some beautiful paths that showcased the spectacular scenery of Kent’s South coast. Starting from the Folkestone Harbour Arm, supporters climbed Kent’s famous white cliffs, and enjoyed breath-taking views over the English channel, Folkestone and Romney Marsh. Walkers even spotted some exotic animals as they passed by Port Lympne Safari Park, before making their way along the canal paths and promenade of Hythe to return to riotous applause at the Folkestone Harbour finish line.

    We couldn’t be prouder of our brilliant supporters

    Robert      –     Pilgrims

    Almost 22,000 km were collectively hiked by Pilgrims supporters on the day; the equivalent of walking from London to Istanbul more than 4 times! The day was a huge success and early estimations are that more than £50,000 has been raised for local end-of-life care services, exceeding the charity’s anticipated fundraising target! The money raised will help Pilgrims Hospices to continue caring for thousands of patients each year, so that everyone living with a terminal illness can access the quality care, comfort and support they deserve, when and where they need it.

    Max Sheppard, from Folkestone, completed the challenge and raised over £1,000 in memory of his father, Barry. He told us, “Dad passed away at Pilgrims Hospices in Ashford. Not only was the care for him at the hospice exceptional, the support for us as a family at the time was also incredible.

    “Whilst Dad was only in the hospice for 6 days, Pilgrims Hospices provided a huge amount of support and guidance in the lead up to his admission. This assistance made a huge difference to Dad and us at a very difficult and stressful time.”

    Not only was the care for him at the hospice exceptional, the support for us as a family at the time was also incredible

    Max Sheppard

    Robert Grew, Events and Digital Fundraising Manager said: “We couldn’t be prouder of our brilliant supporters who, quite literally, went the extra mile for Pilgrims on a very warm day. It was truly inspirational to see a community come together to support Pilgrims Hospices, and to celebrate and fundraise in memory of those they care so deeply about.


    “We’ve already received fantastic feedback from our amazing participants, who have expressed their gratitude to our brilliant team. Our staff and volunteers worked tirelessly to ensure that participants had plenty of support along the route and well-stocked refreshment stops, to keep spirits up throughout the day. We are so grateful to everyone involved who made the event such a huge success, and especially to our fantastic volunteers, we couldn’t do it without them!”

    This year alone, Pilgrims Hospices has to raise £11 million through voluntary donations and fundraising activities in order to run their full range of services. Sponsorship raised through events like this help the charity to continue caring for local people, and their families, as they near the end of their lives.

    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. 

    20th August 2023

    5 reasons to take part in the Folkestone Downs Challenge

    Pilgrims Hospices’ popular hiking event, the Folkestone Downs Challenge, takes place on Saturday 2 September 2023.

    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 breathtaking 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. 

    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.

    19th November 2019

    Santas on the Run! will raise £1000’s for specialist Pilgrims care

    Paul Johnson from Ashford will be taking a festive dash along the Folkestone seafront on Sunday 8 December, when he joins hundreds of others in Pilgrims Hospices Santas on the Run! Christmas 5K or 3K fun run. The Harbour Arm will be a sea of festive fun-loving Santas, young and old, all raising valuable funds for local hospice care.

    Paul in his running kit

    Environmental Consultant, Paul, told us: “My dad Les was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. He benefits greatly from the amazing services provided by Pilgrims Hospices, especially their Wellbeing Centre in Ashford where he has physiotherapy and receives emotional support.

    “I joined a local running club, Beginners2Runners in April this year following a difficult time; the club is brilliant and helped make a positive impact on me. The running has really made a big difference to my quality of life.

    “I decided to channel my energies into raising money for Pilgrims as a way of making a difference for those who need palliative care, and their families.”

    If you would like to support Paul please visit his JustGiving page and donate.

    “Thank you to everyone who is supporting me, you are all helping to make a difference to end-of-life care in our area.” Paul added.

    Lydia Todd, Pilgrims Challenge Events Officer said: “Thank you Paul for sharing your story, it’s wonderful that you are supporting us and helping to spread the word about our festive fun run.

    “Good luck on the day, I’m sure you will enjoy every minute of the fabulous festive spectacle.”

    Thank you to everyone who is supporting me, you are all helping to make a difference.


    There’s still time to get involved and register to take part at pilgrimshospices.org/santas or call Lydia Todd on 01227 812 609.

    Your entry fee covers a Santa suit, a fabulous medal and, the feel-good factor that you are truly helping to make a difference.

    Just by raising a little sponsorship you could help to pay for a patient to enjoy a mince pie and custard on the run up to Christmas, a festive dinner or physiotherapy sessions to help patients stay active and enjoy games with their family on Christmas Day.

    See you there Santas!

    Pilgrims Hospices is a charity providing palliative care free of charge to people in east Kent, and therefore relies on charitable donations.

    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/wellbeing for information on the Wellbeing Programme.

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