12th October 2021

    Hospice nurse retires after almost 50 years of caring service

    Sue Clark from Canterbury has enjoyed a long career in nursing; starting out as a children’s nurse, she then moved to caring for elderly patients. Finally, Sue spent the last 15 years of her career at Pilgrims Hospices, supporting adults approaching the end of life.

    Now, aged 65, she is looking forward to retirement with a sense of gratitude and appreciation that has come from working with hospice patients.

    Originally from Bracknell, Berkshire, at 16 years old Sue became a nursing cadet. She trained in orthopaedic and general nursing at Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children, qualifying in 1978.

    Sue moved to east Kent with her best friend from nursing school, whose father managed the local cottage hospitals and got Sue a job at Herne Hospital. She also worked at Nunnery Fields Hospital in Canterbury, and further afield in south-east London, before moving to Kent and Canterbury Hospital in the 1990s.

    She said: “I initially wanted to be an air stewardess! But I really loved caring for people and became interested in children’s nursing. It’s funny – I started out working with children and ended up at the other side of life.”

    At Pilgrims, we care for the patient and the whole family. It’s not like in hospital; we can get involved, we have the time to get to know families.


    In between, Sue did some community nursing work with Marie Curie, supporting patients with terminal illnesses. This was her first experience of working in palliative care, and in 2006 she joined Pilgrims as a Registered General Nurse (RGN).

    In 2019, she gave up her registration and spent her last two years of service working as a Healthcare Assistant (HCA).

    Sue continued: “At Pilgrims, we care for the patient and the whole family. It’s not like in hospital; we can get involved, we have the time to get to know families. We’re also able to provide aftercare for loved ones, too.

    “I love being hands on with basic nursing care, and the HCA role enabled me to do even more of this so I really enjoyed it.”

    Working at Pilgrims, you realise that life is so short. I just want to enjoy retirement with my husband and make the most of every moment.


    Kate White, Head of Nursing at Pilgrims, said: “To dedicate 50 years to nursing is a huge achievement and shows strength of character. I cannot imagine how many patients and their families have been cared for by Sue in all this time!

    “We wish her all the very best for a well-deserved retirement and thank her for her commitment to Pilgrims.”

    Now that she has retired, Sue is looking forward to catching up with friends, spending time with family and planning a few mini-breaks.

    She added: “Working at Pilgrims, you realise that life is so short. I just want to enjoy retirement with my husband and make the most of every moment.”

    Each year Pilgrims Hospices give care and comfort to over 2,500 people in east Kent 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. Care is provided from three hospice sites in Thanet, Canterbury and Ashford 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.

    18th October 2019

    Uniquely Pilgrims fashion exhibition

    Canterbury College students upcycle for charity, they are bringing a new lease of life to charity shop donations after setting themselves an upcycling challenge in aid of Pilgrims Hospices.

    In partnership with Pilgrims Hospices, Level 1 & 3, Canterbury School of Visual Arts (CSVA) students have been adding their own creative flair to items and fabrics that need a bit of love and attention; they’ve been choosing their pieces from Pilgrims vintage shop in Burgate, Canterbury.

    During Canterbury Festival, the project will culminate in the Uniquely Pilgrims Fashion Exhibition at Pilgrims Hospices on Friday 1st November, where the students will be able to showcase their creations for viewing.

    We are very excited to be supporting Pilgrims Hospices.

    Sue Freeman, Canterbury College

    Both Canterbury College and Pilgrims Hospices would like to invite the general public to come along to this event and see the finished products. The Pilgrims retail team will also be there on the night so viewers will also have the chance to browse our vintage rails and purchase something special.

    Basing their creations on Kent Garden of England theme, the students led by college tutor, Sue Freeman have been experimenting with all things nature. From bees to birds to shrubbery and brambles, the students will be creating embellished and fabric manipulated accessories such as cushions, aprons, t-shirts and lots more.

    Sue Freeman, college tutor, said: “This has been a lovely project to do with L1 & L3 students.

    “We have been inspired by artists and designers who get their ideas from the natural world.

    “It has also been an opportunity to celebrate the wonderful abundance of fruit, vegetables and wildlife we have in Kent.

    “The students have been amazing with their responses and we are very excited to be supporting Pilgrims Hospices and hope that visitors enjoy it too.”

    Once the items have been showcased, they will be available to purchase either on the night or in Pilgrims Hospices vintage shop in Burgate.

    Funds raised through this project will support the work of Pilgrims Hospices to continue delivering specialist nursing care to patients living with incurable illness in east Kent.

    Event details:

    Friday 1st November7:30pm – 9:30pm

    Pilgrims Hospices, 56 London Road, Canterbury CT2 8JA

    Suggested donation of £5 on the door.

    Nibbles and drinks will be served on the night.

    If you or someone you know is coping with a life limiting illness and you think you may benefit from Pilgrims free services, talk to your GP or Healthcare Professional about your options or click here to read about our Wellbeing Programme.

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