14th April 2022

    Sponsor a Nurse appeal

    None of us know when we might need hospice care, but  your support has helped ensure we can continue to be here at the most difficult time in people’s lives.

    Being faced with an illness that cannot be cured is something none of us want to think about, but we do all want to know that there will be someone to help us should we need them.

    Since 2013, the Sponsor a Nurse appeal has raised an incredible £248,000 to support the care that Pilgrims Hospices offers.

    Working within the hospice environment and meeting patients opens your eyes to what passion, empathy, dignity and respect truly mean. Working at Pilgrims gives us all time to appreciate what we have in our own lives, and puts the preciousness of life into perspective.

    Beverley Allen, Community Registered General Nurse, Pilgrims Hospice Ashford

    We take the time to listen

    Sarah Martins

    When a patient is referred to Pilgrims, we take the time to listen to and talk with them to find out what worries them most. We know that every patient is unique and we tailor all our care to what works best for them.

    “I consider myself very privileged to support patients and their families at end of life; it underpins all that nursing is for me. We know that we can’t change the destination but we can change the journey.

    Time, patience, specialist knowledge and humour keep us connected to our patients. We respect them as individuals and are able to connect on a human level, we give the care we would want and expect our loved ones to receive if they needed it and that is nearly all funded by the amazing general public.”

    Sarah Martins, Senior Ward Sister, Pilgrims Hospice Canterbury

    Bringing nurses to the bedside

    Mandy Timms

    Because we believe that everyone has the right to care, comfort, compassion and dignity in their final days, weeks, months or years, we provide all of our care free of charge.

    “Pilgrims is a wonderful organisation to work for and I feel very privileged to come to work here every day. My role is so varied, involving community, clinic and home visits, and I never know what each day will bring. It is humbling spending time with patients who open their hearts and allow us to accompany them on their journeys.”

    Mandy Timms, Advanced Nurse Practitioner

    Giving the gift of care

    Pilgrims is here so that patients do not come to their end-of-life journeys in pain or distress.

    By sponsoring a nurse, our supporters have helped to ease pain, offer comfort, provide reassurance and help someone live their life to the full in the time that they have.

    We support the whole person’s wellbeing to help them really live their last days. We treat people as individuals by offering them choices.

    If you would like to continue supporting Pilgrims nurses, you can do so by joining Always Caring, a club of committed supporters who choose to make regular, monthly donations to Pilgrims Hospices.

    For more information, click here.

    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.

    3rd May 2018

    Joe and Florence take on the Exmoor Challenge in aid of Pilgrims Hospices

    Over the weekend of 20 – 22 April  Joe aged 9 and Florence aged 12 Wrake took part in the inaugural Exmoor Expedition with The Children’s Challenge and raised nearly £800 in aid of Pilgrims Hospices.

    The Children’s Challenge was set up as a vehicle for young people to raise money for a charity of their choice whist giving them with a genuine challenge in the form of a hike across Exmoor

    There were 3 routes to choose from. Florence (and her mum Lisa) walked the 17km one and Joe the longest 21km route. It took 7 & 6 hours respectively starting at 8.30am. It certainly was a challenge for them all.

    Lisa explained why they chose to support Pilgrims Hospices: “In 2011 Florence and Joe’s dad Run was diagnosed with lung cancer. Despite surgery and chemotherapy after 6 months his prognosis became terminal and his health deteriorated quickly. In a time of utter disbelief and confusion, Pilgrims Hospice Ashford became our sanctuary – providing practical, mental and spiritual support; it was a quiet, dignified and safe place for us to be together as a family in our final weeks.

    “There was a garden for the children to play in, bright rooms with balconies, a living area and kitchen, doctors, nurses and a variety of therapists available around the clock. I still cannot believe this organisation is entirely free at point of use yet 77% of its funding comes from voluntary donations.”

    When describing the challenge she said:  “The weather was good bar for a few drops of rain towards the end, and the landscape is lovely – woodland, moorland, hills and valleys. It was nice to think about Run as we walked. It was the first time my children have ever done something like this and I am sure will want to do it again next year!”

    Isabel Smith, Community Fundraising Officer said: “We are so grateful to Joe and Florence for undertaking such a challenge in aid of Pilgrims Hospices. The walk sounds amazing. The money they have raised will help Pilgrims to support another family like theirs who are facing a similar situation.

    “If you would like to take part in a challenge in aid of Pilgrims Hospices please visit the events and challenges page to see what is happening in your area. “

    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 end of life care given on its wards, to its new Wellbeing and Social Programme supporting people after they are diagnosed to live well and stay independent.




    7th February 2018

    “Have that conversation, help is at hand for your family”

    Pilgrims family services - Holly's story

    Pilgrims care extends beyond the person who is ill to include their family and friends. Families coping with a terminal illness can be empowered to have the conversations they need to make the most of the time they have. Here Holly Cooke from Ashford shares her story.

    I was 21 when Dad was diagnosed with cancer. He was mad keen on golf and always at the club helping with charity events. Everyone he knew was stunned when he got ill because he was such a fit and healthy man. When it’s your Dad you don’t know what to do.

    Support to stay independent

    We formed a close connection with Pauline his doctor, it was a collaborative approach and it made such a difference being listened to. It’s really important to be able to manage your own illness. Dad was fiercely independent and to have that support until the last minute meant he could make his own choices about his care. He was an incredible man.

    He came for courses of pain management support for over a year and had specialist massages from the Pilgrims complimentary therapist.

    While Dad was seeing the specialists, Mum was given the option to use the support groups, although she didn’t attend due to the support and advice given by the doctors and nurses at the hospice. It was a relief to know she was getting what she needed to give her the strength to care for him. We could do things as a family in that time we had together.

    “We could do things as a family in that time we had together.”

    I would not change the way Dad went in the end. He had been give a prognosis of anywhere from a few months to 18 – in the end he lived for 16 which was brilliant. It was definitely down to the care he received at Pilgrims that we could do things as a family in that time we had together.

    We felt safe at the hospice

    On the Friday before he died Dad went for a three mile walk, he was still feeling fit and active. I remember him sitting out in the garden in the sun reading the newspaper.

    Then on the Saturday, the day before he died, he couldn’t get out of bed but we were watching films together. He was really with us, laughing and joking.

    In the end he wasn’t on the hospice ward long. I was at work when I got the call that he had been taken in and within an hour and a half he had died.

    We were in shock  but the ward sister was brilliant. She gave us a private room. It was all very calm and we felt like we were in safe hands.

    The care for our family didn’t end when Dad died, we were offered support and Mum was supported by a hospice counsellor.

    If I could speak to other people in my situation or Dad’s who don’t think the hospice can help or who’s scared of going  – I would say just go and speak to them, have that conversation.

    So many people are scared because they think it’s going to be a sad place. What they don’t see is that when you get there you will see beautiful gardens to walk in, there’s a lovely chapel and people smile at you. No one is sad because they are in the right place.

    If you or someone you know is living with a life-limiting illness there is a wide range of support and services available. Talk to your GP or click here to find out more.


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