8th April 2024

    Memory Trees: Raquel’s story

    Raquel shares why her silver leaf for her husband, Ray, on the Memory Tree at Pilgrims Hospices is so important to her.

    Meeting my future-husband, Raymond Charsley, was the luckiest thing that ever happened to me. A chance meeting at our local London badminton club in 1987 lead to 30 happy years together. His name on the silver leaf at Thanet is proof for me that the wonderful life we had wasn’t all a dream.

    On a group trip to watch a Christmas pantomime we got talking and found we had a lot in common. We worked very close by to each other, and I realised how fortunate it was that we met. We spent many happy years together, until sadly, Ray was diagnosed with cancer. We were put in touch with Pilgrims, who supported us through his last months.

    When I see his leaf, it reminds me he is still with me, and there is somewhere he will always be. I’m so thankful for everything that Pilgrims does for those at the end of life. Ray was looked after so well, and me too, and I’m so pleased to be able to help others have the same care we did.


    We had lots of support from the hospice, including talks helping us get through all the practicalities, which made everything so much easier to understand and manage. He spent his last week in the hospice, and although he was ill, he was still very much himself.

    I was so thankful that we were benefitting from the contributions others had made, so when Ray’s time came, I knew I wanted to do something to help. It’s only a small thing, having my leaf on the Tree for these past several years, but it’s the least I can do in return for the care we both received. If I can contribute so someone else can get the support we both valued so much, I know Ray would be pleased.

    The leaves are a symbol of love, lives lived, rather than simply lives lost.

    Cat Darkins, Lead Spiritual Care Chaplain

    Cat Darkins

    Memory Trees are a special place to honour your loved one at the heart of our three hospices in Canterbury, Thanet and Ashford.

    In return for a kind donation, we offer three different leaves – copper, silver and gold – as well as special platinum doves.

    A silver leaf would pay for 12 hours of specialist nursing care in one of our inpatient units, over the course of a year.

    To find out more, please call 01227 728 066 or email individual.giving@pilgrimshospices.org.

    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 supports patients to live life as well as possible until the very end, free from pain and distress.

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