30th May 2022

    Pilgrims Hospices’ Wellbeing team help patients celebrate Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

    Time to Create sessions at Pilgrims Hospices, run by the Wellbeing team, offer patients an opportunity to express themselves through arts and crafts activities in a group setting. This can help with the physical, emotional and spiritual challenges they may face after a diagnosis and referral to hospice care.

    The team at Pilgrims Hospice Thanet has been busy getting ready to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Patients have designed custom pieces of art using the Queen’s famous silhouette as inspiration; drawing on different artistic techniques and styles, the team curated a unique collection to display in the Therapy Centre at the Thanet hospice.

    Janis, a patient, shared what she has enjoyed about the project:

    “The Queen has been a constant and stabilising presence for the country through so much adversity. It has been fun painting her.” 

    A Time to Create session at the Pilgrims Hospice Thanet Therapy Centre


    Billy Williams, Wellbeing Practitioner, said:

    “Working on such an iconic and world-famous image has been so much fun. Celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee is something that brings the whole country together; everyone at the hospice has been admiring the finished pieces, which we’ve displayed throughout the Therapy Centre.

    “Time to Create sessions are a great way for patients to improve their overall wellbeing, meet people going through similar experiences and unwind in a calm and friendly environment. The group has really enjoyed working on these pieces; patients have experienced reduced anxiety and stress, and been able to focus on something positive.”

    The feedback from patients is overwhelmingly positive, too:

    I was introduced to Billy and Time to Create after attending a breathlessness management group. I had no idea the hospice offered a wide range of Wellbeing activities. Time to Create is a wonderful way to spend a few hours every Thursday afternoon. I can completely switch off and enjoy the company of the group. Its been fabulous.”


    This is my first time at Time to Create and I have found it friendly and relaxing. I have really enjoyed it.”


    Great company and great fun! I come to Time to Create to do many different arts and crafts, completely out of my comfort zone but so enjoyable.”


    We all enjoy Time to Create, such fun and super company.”


    Wellbeing at Pilgrims is an essential part of the holistic care provided by the charity; mental health and wellbeing are vital in helping patients to live well, cultivate a positive mental attitude and develop a sense of purpose.

    Pilgrims’ Wellbeing team offer a variety of both patient and carer-focused support, including art-based therapeutic activities like Time to Create and walking groups for carers. They work alongside the wider therapies team to ensure a holistic and person-centred approach is taken when supporting patients, carers and families.

    Find out more about Pilgrims’ Wellbeing services at pilgrimshospices.org/wellbeing.

    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 peoples own homes, in the community and in their inpatient units as well as running a 24-hour advice line.

    2nd February 2022

    Kathleen retires after 13 years with Pilgrims Hospices Wellbeing team

    Pilgrims Hospices much loved Wellbeing Practitioner, Kathleen Steele, recently retired from the Thanet hospice after 13 years of caring and supporting patients’ wellbeing needs. She leaves behind a wealth of creative knowledge and a legacy of virtual therapy videos for patients to help them interact with the Wellbeing team from the comfort of their own homes.

    Kathleen joined Pilgrims from a career in supported learning services for people with learning disabilities.

    She told us: “I noticed the vacancy with Pilgrims and immediately felt it was a good match for my skills and I definitely wanted to remain in vocational services.

    “I have loved my time with Pilgrims, it’s such a rewarding role helping to support people to live as actively as possible earlier in the course of their illness and assisting them to remain independent and positive by sharing time with our support team and others using our services.”

    Kathleen at a Therapy Centre session


    During her time with Pilgrims, Kathleen contributed to the wellbeing of thousands of service users who have come to the Therapy Centre day services for a wide variety of therapy sessions.

    Kathleen with her colleague, Chris

    Kath from Cliffsend, said that she’s looking forward to spending more time with her husband Alan, and becoming even more proficient on her paddleboard; they have some well-earned holidays planned too. She has been studying the ancient Chinese art of brush painting, and looks forward to spending more time on her creative hobby.

    Kath said: “I’ve always been a creative person and the Chinese brush painting is so therapeutic, and relaxing. The art form has been around for more than 6,000 years, it’s the traditional art of painting on rice paper or silk with a natural animal-hair brush and ink. I describe my style as abstract and I’m looking forward to challenging myself with some imaginative painting with my newfound free time.”

    Kathleen with her colleague, Sophie

    Kyla from Pilgrims’ Complementary Therapy team said: “I’ve worked closely with Kathleen on many projects and her legacy of ideas and creative thinking will continue to be part of Pilgrims Wellbeing programmes. I wish Kathleen a very happy retirement, and hopefully she will pop in to see some of her friends here at the hospice now and again.”

    If you are interested in working in end-of-life care, and feel you have the qualities to help people to live well until the end of their lives, check out our current vacancies for more information and apply today.

    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,comm free from pain and distress. 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.

    15th December 2020

    Virtual reality appeal raises thousands for Pilgrims Hospices

    Thanks to the efforts of our community of supporters, Pilgrims Hospices raised £14,874.72 for our Virtual Reality appeal.

    Virtual reality (VR) is a technology accessed through a headset and headphones, which immerses someone within a 3D and 360-degree video to give them a sense of being physically present in that environment.

    For example, through VR, someone could experience diving in the Great Barrier Reef or relaxing on a tropical beach.

    Improving quality of life

    The latest trials of virtual reality within a healthcare setting have shown an improvement in the quality of life for terminally ill patients by helping ease their anxiety, breathlessness, fatigue, and even reducing pain.

    Through our Immerse Your Senses Appeal, we raised enough money to introduce a VR system at each of our hospices in Canterbury, Thanet and Ashford.

    The system was used across all of our healthcare and wellbeing settings, including our Therapy Centres, in-patient units, and even in people’s homes, which benefitted a wide range of our patients.

    Ann’s story

    Ann Morris attended our Therapy Centre at Pilgrims Hospice Thanet, where she benefitted from the VR technology we offered for hospice patients.

    Read Ann’s story here.

    Ann with Kristy Wells, Occupational Therapist Assistant


    Why is this VR system so special?

    What made this VR system particularly special is that it included its own camera so we could record and personalise the experiences we offered to our patients, whether that was a local place they were particularly fond of, or a special occasion they were unable to attend.

    In this way, someone who was used to walking their dog along a beach but hadn’t been able to more recently, could once again experience this through virtual reality at Pilgrims.

    Due to the simplicity of the system, we were even able to train our patients’ families to record and deliver these magical moments for their loved ones.

    This sort of bespoke experience enabled our patients to escape the boundaries of their illness and enjoy treasured moments once again.

    Thanks to the generous support of our local community, we were able to provide this incredible technology on each of our sites for two years.

    Thank you!

    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.

    23rd July 2019

    Garden planters make blooming good therapy

    A generous donation from a garden centre has made a hands-on project for patients at Pilgrims Hospice Ashford. The care team provides a variety of wellbeing sessions, ideal for helping service users to remain active and independent.

    Leanne Clark, Pilgrims Hospices Wellbeing Practitioner, approached Longacres Garden Centre for a donation of planters to create an engaging project for some of the gentlemen group members. She said: “I was delighted to receive a message from Claire Wilkes, Charities and Events Co-Ordinator at Longacres head office, offering 11 planters for our creative groups.

    “The aim was for anyone green-fingered in our Time to Create or Living Well Group to decorate one and we would help them to fill with plants. They are welcome to take the planters home or leave them to be part of the patio display outside the Therapy Centre for everyone to enjoy.”

    You can see some of the beautiful handy work if you visit Pilgrims Hospices Summer Garden Party being held in the Ashford hospice gardens on Saturday 3 August, 11 am – 4 pm.

    This year, as well as all the many traditional tombolas and fair games for all the family, there will be some fantastic perfume and other bargains to be had on the Pilgrims marketplace stall, as well, of course, as delicious savouries and homemade cakes in the vintage style refreshments tent.

    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 click here to read about our Wellbeing Programme.

    13th May 2019

    Pilgrims therapy sessions are making a huge difference for Edgar

    Edgar Evans is 91-years-old, he regularly attends Pilgrims Hospices Therapy Centre in Ashford not only to help him maintain his fitness and independence but to join with others and try activities that interest him and keep his mind and body active. Every visit is an opportunity to engage in a friendly and welcoming environment with people who are also managing life-limiting symptoms and conditions.

    Edgar’s story

    My first experience of Pilgrims Hospices came in 2017 when my wife Edna was cared for by Pilgrims community care team. After Edna passed away, Pilgrims visited me on several occasions to check on my wellbeing. I can only describe the care we both received as exceptional.

    Edgar with his wife Edna

    In 2018 I was diagnosed with cardiac and kidney problems myself. Upon my return home from the hospital, Pilgrims made contact to discuss the support they could offer and shared a number of options available within their Therapy Centres.

    At first, I admit I felt dubious and a little anxious about attending the hospice, however, I agreed to ‘give it a go’.

    The whole experience was wonderful. I was collected from my home in Hythe by a Pilgrims volunteer driver and greeted by nurses at the Ashford hospice. I was escorted to a lovely comfortable day room, which I can only describe as being like a top-class hotel. After introductions to the warm and friendly staff and others attending the therapy sessions, we were offered refreshments and a chance to get to know one another. I felt welcome and comfortable straight away.

    Edgar at a Time to Create session


    I’ve been able to try a number of activities that I really never thought would be of interest to me. It’s given me new skills and helps me keep my mind and body active. I’ve tried sugar icing on cakes, painting, Christmas decorations, crafts and flower arranging to name but a few.

    The massage, gym sessions and sit down and get fit classes have helped with aches and pains and given me the confidence to exercise and maintain my fitness.

    It’s been nice to share some of Pilgrims’ kindness with my family, Pilgrims invited them to enjoy a pamper day with me, which helped them to understand the benefit of my time spent at the hospice.

    It’s definitely the highlight of my week, being with the care team who really understand my needs and talking to people who are also dealing with similar conditions and symptoms helps me to speak with confidence about my needs in a relaxed atmosphere.

    I’m always treated to a tasty lunch and the staff provide therapy, care, and kindness in abundance.

    If you are offered an opportunity to take advantage of a Pilgrims Therapy Centre, please do say yes, you will definitely find benefits within the warmth of the hospice team and develop new friendships along the way.

    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 click here for information on the Wellbeing and Social Programme.

    10th May 2019

    Pilgrims Hospices helps Mario to leave lasting legacy

    Mario Romeiro from Folkestone has had an interesting and varied life. Born into the travelling circus, his trapeze act Mario and the Flying Romeiros performed all over the UK and he later married into a fairground family. After being diagnosed with Ampullary carcinoma, a rare form of cancer, Mario is now preparing for the last part of his life with the help of Pilgrims Hospices.

    Ever since his diagnosis Mario has been recording his experiences, initially by writing a cancer diary. He wasn’t able to be with his family to break the news, so the diary helped him to communicate everything to them. Then, in August 2018 Mario was referred to Pilgrims Hospices and began accessing services at the Ashford hospice. He attends Time to Create sessions in the Therapy Centre, where patients and carers spend the afternoon together doing art and craft projects. Naturally skilled at drawing, Mario has a BTEC qualification in Art and Design and enjoys these creative groups.

    He said: “The Pilgrims team are brilliant. If I have any problems I can tell them how I feel and they’ll help to make sure I’m keeping well and that my symptoms are managed.”

    At first, all I heard was ‘cancer’. It doesn’t need to be like that. Pilgrims has helped me to live well; coming to the Time to Create groups is really good for me, otherwise I’d just sit at home. I come here and meet others in the same situation and that really helps.


    Mario also does tattoo work from home. His youngest daughter, Rebecca (21), has asked him to tattoo ‘I love you’ on her arm in his own handwriting. The family are preparing in lots of other ways, too. Mario is planning his funeral to take the pressure off his loved ones and make things as easy for them as possible. He has chosen to be cremated, and his children plan to have his ashes made into jewellery as a special keepsake.

    His oldest daughter, Sammy Jo, had asked Mario to make voice recordings after he was diagnosed, so The Blackbird Project arrived at the perfect time. This is a new service offered by Pilgrims, enabling patients to record messages for loved ones and store them on bespoke blackbird-shaped USB sticks to keep forever.

    Artwork by Mario

    Mario said: “I’ve got to learn how to die gracefully. That means not being as stubborn and letting people know how I’m feeling. I’m recording goodbyes and thank yous, my parting messages to the kids and the missus, so they can listen to them after I’m gone. There might be a time when they’re feeling a bit rubbish and then they can listen to my voice and remember: ‘Dad would want me to get off my bum and enjoy life.’ I hope my messages can help them in that way.

    “I think some people can never say what they want to when people are there, so The Blackbird Project gives them that opportunity. It’s a great relief knowing that the recordings could bring comfort to family and loved ones.”

    Pilgrims is helping Mario and his family to make the most of the time they have together. Asked what advice he would give to others in his position, he said:

    “Don’t think it’s the end. At first, all I heard was ‘cancer’. It doesn’t need to be like that. Pilgrims has helped me to live well; coming to the Time to Create groups is really good for me, otherwise I’d just sit at home. I come here and meet others in the same situation and that really helps.”

    In Dying Matters Awareness Week, Pilgrims Hospices will host a day-long festival with speakers, workshops and stalls to provoke conversations about and provide information on death and dying.

    From practical things like writing a will, to creating a beautiful and meaningful funeral and much, much more.

    This is a free event with some ticketed sessions. All are welcome.

    Find out more and book tickets at pilgrimshospices.org/bigconversation.

    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 and Social Programme.

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