28th July 2023

    Hundreds join together to celebrate treasured memories with sunflowers

    Pilgrims Hospices were visited by more than 600 people in their gardens at Canterbury, Thanet and Ashford to find their loved one’s dedicated sunflower memory markers. Despite predictions of a slightly damp weekend ahead, the rain stayed away and there was a lovely atmosphere at each event with the opportunity for friends and family to remember and celebrate their loved ones’ lives.

    Visitors were welcomed with tea, cake and strawberries with cream served by Pilgrims volunteers in the charity’s Therapy Centres. These spaces, most often used by the Wellbeing Teams for their Living Well and creative art sessions, hosted beautiful displays of sunflower-themed artworks made by patients and carers.

    Members of the Wellbeing Team were present on the day, to speak to visitors about their work, and hear their memories of lost loved ones. Jane, Wellbeing Practitioner at the Thanet Hospice, said: “Families talked about the calm and peaceful feelings they had about being back at the hospice, that it is a safe space for them to talk in, how they felt cared for and that carers too were treated with such dignity both before and after their loved one had died. Some had found it hard to return but then were able to cry, laugh and feel they had made a positive step forward by attending the event. It was a day that was right for both those whose feelings were still incredibly raw, and for those who were returning after 10 years of attending.”


    In the lead up to the events, the team at Pilgrims reached out to the local community to help support the event. Ellie Cane, who runs the events at the Hospice, extended her thanks saying:

    “Thank you to everyone who kindly donated which helped make the events such a success. To all the keen crafters and knitters who produced beautiful items to sell for donations on the day; Meadow Grange Nursery and our volunteer gardeners who grew over 200 sunflowers plants; and to the Tesco Community Champions and S & A Farms who provided the strawberries for us to serve to our visitors. I’m delighted to say this year’s Sunflower Memories Appeal has so far raised in excess of £36,000, with donations still coming in. This just would not have been possible without the collective effort of our staff, volunteers and our amazing local community.”

    There is still time to donate to have a dedicated sunflower memory marker sent to you in memory of your loved one. For more information contact the Pilgrims Hospices Supporter Relations Team on 01227 782062, or at supporter.relations@pilgrimshospices.org.

    Pilgrims Hospices cares for thousands of local 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.

    7th July 2020

    Hospice brings Sunflowers home

    Pilgrims Hospices annual summer remembrance Sunflower Memories holds a special place in the hearts of many people across east Kent. Hundreds take part every year by dedicating a sunflower memory marker to their loved ones, and coming together in the hospice gardens in July to share memories and celebrate their loved ones lives.

    This year, due to COVID-19, the hospice has been working hard to transform Sunflower Memories from a garden celebration to a remembrance which can be enjoyed from the comfort of home.

    Sunflower memory markers are being sent to people at home, and the Individual Giving team are hard at work to prepare a very special film, which will be released on 25 July at 2pm.

    We’re so excited to be working with Kerry King, freelance BBC filmmaker

    Sara, Pilgrims

    Sara Scriven, Individual Giving Manager said: “In a year when we’ve all been asked to stay at home, and many of us are self-isolating on our own, finding a way to support each other, and remember together, we felt was more important than ever.

    We’re so excited to be working with Kerry King, freelance BBC filmmaker, to create our Sunflower Memories remembrance film. This virtual event will include many supporters sharing their stories, as well as a behind the scenes look at the extraordinary collaborative effort that helps bring Sunflower Memories together each year. It will be a wonderful insight into the world of the hospice, as well as hearing from some of our staff about what it’s been like working throughout the pandemic.”

    Sara adds: “At Pilgrims, we feel it is more important now than ever to come together and share in the memories of our loved ones, and this is why I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage everybody across east Kent, who has lost a loved one to take part, whether they’ve had a connection with the hospice or not. Sunflower Memories is a remembrance for everyone in east Kent. Now is the time to join together in celebration of our loved ones and remember.”

    At Pilgrims, we feel it is more important now than ever to come together and share in the memories of our loved ones

    Sara, Pilgrims

    Pilgrims Hospices Sunflower Memories virtual event will be launched on Saturday 25 July at 2pm on their YouTube channel, website, and social media pages. For more information or to take part, visit www.pilgrimshospices.org/sunflower call 01227 782062, or email supporter.relations@pilgrimshospices.org.

    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. 


    26th July 2018

    Sunflower Memories grow vital donations for hospice

    Hundreds came together for Sunflower Memories this weekend, a colourful event where people gather to celebrate cherished memories of their loved ones in Pilgrims’ hospice gardens.

    Around 900 people attended Pilgrims Hospices Sunflower Memories gatherings to see beautiful sunflower plaque displays in the charity’s Ashford, Canterbury and Thanet hospice grounds. The sun was shining and there was a lovely atmosphere at each event, with the opportunity for people to remember and celebrate their loved ones’ lives.

    This was Pilgrims’ fifth annual Sunflower appeal, the biggest yet and by far the hottest! With the temperature soaring into the high 20s, visitors shared special memories with the Pilgrims team in the tranquil gardens while enjoying cool drinks, tea and cake. So far the event has raised an amazing £26,500, but with extra donations and Gift Aid the total should reach £30,000 for the three events. This amazing figure will support hundreds of people living with an incurable illness in east Kent, with donations continuing to come in.

    Our Sunflower events are so uplifting. There was a lovely atmosphere of kindness as visitors took comfort in sharing their stories of loved ones.

    Sophie Douch, Individual Giving Officer at Pilgrims Hospices

    Sophie Douch, Pilgrims Hospices Individual Giving Officer, said: “Our Sunflower events are so uplifting. There was a lovely atmosphere of kindness as visitors took comfort in sharing their stories of loved ones. As well as the sunflower memory marker displays, our gardens were decked with beautiful sunflower seedlings, grown by Pilgrims’ gardeners and volunteers, and visitors enjoyed gentle music and refreshments in the beautiful hospice grounds.”

    Each event was supported by Pilgrims volunteers helping with refreshments, merchandise and selling sunflower plants as well as welcoming people, helping supporters find their sunflower plaques, and being there for people putting memories on the Memory Wall.

    The Sunflower appeal plays an extremely important role in Pilgrims’ campaign to support as many people as possible.

    Sophie added: “Each year this special appeal goes from strength to strength. We would like to thank everyone who has made our remembrance days so very special. This is such an incredible amount of money to raise for hospice care. Every £50 could pay for essential nursing supplies, so as you can see it will help to make a real difference to families needing our support.”

    The sunflower memory markers will remain in the grounds of the three Pilgrims’ hospices in Ashford, Canterbury and Thanet over the coming two weeks with visitors welcome to view them.

    If you still wish to take part, Pilgrims will continue to accept contributions until mid-August at pilgrimshospices.org/sunflowers. You can also call the team on 01227 782 062 or visit your local Pilgrims Hospices reception.

    Thank you to the Westerleigh Group for their continued annual sponsorship of the appeal, and to the following garden centres for donating seeds, pots and compost for Pilgrims’ volunteers to grow 300 sunflowers:

    Each year Pilgrims supports hundreds of local people coping with a life-limiting illness and their families. The charity offers a range of services: from the end of life care given on its wards, to its Wellbeing and Social programme supporting people after they are diagnosed to live well and stay independent.

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