4th June 2024

    Celebrating volunteer Dr Peter Biggs, a Trustee and a pillar of support at Pilgrims Hospices

    Volunteers’ Week, celebrated between 3 and 9 of June 2024, serves as a poignant reminder of the immeasurable value volunteers bring to various organisations, charities and communities. It’s a time to express gratitude for their tireless efforts and to raise awareness about the transformative power of volunteering.


    Dr Peter Biggs, a retired GP with an illustrious career spanning 42 years in Canterbury, found himself drawn to the mission of Pilgrims Hospices after witnessing the vital role they played in providing specialised care to terminally ill patients. Reflecting on his journey, Peter shares, “I saw the growing work at the hospice over the years. Without the special care, terminal care would have been very much secondary. I wanted to continue to support a service that I very much valued.”

    His path to volunteering with Pilgrims Hospices began serendipitously, as he recalls, “I was looking for something where I could use my experience in a way that I thought would be valuable for people, and the hospice came along just at the right time.” Encouraged by his wife to explore volunteering opportunities, Peter found himself drawn to the role of trustee when Pilgrims Hospices put out a call for applicants.

    I saw the growing work at the hospice over the years. Without the special care, terminal care would have been very much secondary. I wanted to continue to support a service that I very much valued.

    Dr Peter Biggs

    As a trustee, Peter assumes a multifaceted role, overseeing, supporting, and advocating for the patients, their families, and the broader community. Contrary to common misconceptions, trusteeship entails more than just governance; it involves offering guidance and support to the executive team while championing the interests of the community.

    One aspect that sets Pilgrims Hospices apart is its commitment to diversity and inclusivity, evident not only in its volunteer base but also in its board of trustees. Peter highlights the diverse expertise among the trustees, celebrating the depth of understanding it brings to addressing various issues, a model he believes other organisations could learn from.

    In his role, Peter has witnessed first-hand the profound impact of Pilgrims Hospices’ volunteer-driven initiatives. From fundraising events to community outreach programs, he has seen the transformative power of volunteerism in action. “The team at Pilgrims couldn’t do the valuable work they do, without the support of our amazing volunteers,” he emphasises.

    With a wide variety of volunteering opportunities, if you want to do something  incredibly rewarding and valuable, Pilgrims Hospices is a good place to be.

    Dr Peter Biggs

    “I’ve found Pilgrims to be a passionate supportive community of staff, volunteers, and one that is welcoming to all. With a wide variety of volunteering opportunities, if you want to do something  incredibly rewarding and valuable, Pilgrims Hospices is a good place to be.

    “I’m delighted to say I took part in the Pilgrims Golf Day fundraiser last year, and thrilled to be on the winning team, this year my wife and I will be taking part in the Pilgrims Way Challenge walk. As part of my role as a trustee, I’ve also visited a number of the hospice shops and experienced the wonderful warmth of the volunteers that work within them.”

    Peter’s journey as a volunteer at Pilgrims Hospices has been one of profound fulfilment and growth. Through his experiences, Peter underscores the importance of open dialogue surrounding end-of-life care and the need for continued support for hospice services.

    This Volunteers’ Week, let us join together in celebrating individuals like Dr Peter Biggs, whose selfless dedication and unwavering commitment enrich the lives of those they serve. In honouring their contributions, we acknowledge the transformative power of volunteering and the profound difference it makes in our communities.


    Inspired to become a Pilgrims’ volunteer?

    Visit pilgrimshospices.org/volunteer and look out for more stories and information throughout Volunteers’ Week!


    Volunteers’ Week celebrates the amazing contributions volunteers make to communities across the UK. The celebration starts on the first Monday in June every year. It’s a chance to recognise, celebrate and thank the UK’s incredible volunteers for all they contribute to our local communities, the voluntary sector, and society as a whole.


    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.

    6th November 2023

    Simon Perks: A Trustee’s journey at Pilgrims Hospices – Celebrating Trustees’ Week

    Trustees’ Week 6-10 November 2023 – a time for us to come together, to celebrate the achievements of nearly one million Trustees across the UK. 

    Simon Perks, a Trustee for Pilgrims Hospices, shares his insights and experiences on the occasion of Trustees’ Week. With nine years of service under his belt, he sheds light on his journey and the significance of being a Trustee for this beloved local charity.

    Simon’s journey as a Trustee began when he was working for the local NHS, where he recognised the invaluable contribution Pilgrims Hospices made in supporting, and caring for the people of east Kent. His background in clinical services, and a desire to ensure the hospices’ services met local needs inspired him to join as a Trustee. His aim was to help the hospices’ develop services that not only catered to diverse local populations, but also seamlessly connected with other healthcare services, ensuring easy referrals for those in need of palliative or end-of-life care.

    He believes that everyone, Trustees included, play a role in ensuring that hospice services reflect the local community. He personally fulfils this role by meeting with staff, and occasionally interacting with patients.  He has lived in east Kent for almost 28 years, and as the Chair of the Clinical Services Development Committee, he sees his role as one of support and challenge in encouraging hospice staff to ensure their plans extend their services to as many people as possible, and reach those who may not typically seek hospice care.

    One way Simon and his fellow Trustees have amplified the voices of those served by Pilgrims Hospices, is by supporting the development of new services such as our Think, Talk Act services. These services have been developed to ensure that we can work with NHS GP’s in Primary Care, to identify those who may be coming to the end of their life, and ensure they have care plans in place, and access to Pilgrims Services. A strength of Pilgrims Hospices lies in its Trustees’ ability to collaborate effectively. With a diverse range of backgrounds, they come together to hopefully make informed, collective decisions to help navigate challenging conditions.  Most recently they have supported  improvement in the hospices’ financial position and the continued development of clinical services.

    Simon’s favourite aspect of being a Pilgrims Trustee is witnessing the charity’s continuing growth and the enthusiasm with which new service ideas are developed. He’s inspired by the charity’s ability to identify needs, innovate, and implement them in the face of common challenges.

     

    It is a privilege to play a small part in a charity that is so important to the people of east Kent

    Simon Perks

    For Simon, Pilgrims means a great deal, as it is a vital part of the east Kent community. Many residents are familiar with Pilgrims through the care they provide to loved ones, donation pots in local stores and community areas, Pilgrims’ shops, and fundraising events. The fact that Pilgrims is funded by local communities and services developed and delivered  to meet the needs of  the people of east Kent makes it truly special.

    To ensure that the Board of Trustees decisions and actions reflect the diverse perspectives and needs of the community Pilgrims Hospices serves, Simon acknowledges the ongoing challenge of understanding the intricacies of those needs. Trustees must continue to challenge each other and the Executive Management Team, to ensure the future sustainability of Pilgrims.

     

    Over his long tenure as a Trustee, Simon has witnessed numerous positive changes, including the future of the Canterbury hospice and the incredible COVID-19 response from hospice staff. Looking ahead, he aspires for Pilgrims to further engage with a wide range of stakeholders to develop future services that will meet the needs of both our current and future beneficiaries.  As for the evolving role of Trustees, Simon hopes they will focus on clinical and care aspects, and find ways to better listen to the community’s needs.

    Everyone, Trustees included, play a role in ensuring that hospice services reflect the local community.

    Simon Perks

    To anyone considering becoming a Pilgrims Trustee in the future, Simon’s message is clear: “Do it.” It is a privilege to play a small part in a charity that is so important to the people of east Kent and embodies the best of the community’s values. Trustees like Simon are unsung heroes, dedicating their time and expertise to ensure that Pilgrims Hospices continues its mission of providing compassionate care and support for years to come. Applications are welcomed, especially from those with clinical, medical and nursing backgrounds. For those interested in a Trustee role with Pilgrims Hospices, please contact our Chair of Trustees, Karen Warden for an informal discussion at: karen.warden@pilgrimshospices.org

    Trustees’ Week, celebrated from November 6 to 10, is the perfect time to recognise their invaluable contributions.


    Each year Pilgrims supports thousands 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 Wellbeing Programme supporting people after they are diagnosed to live well and stay independent.

     

    3rd November 2022

    Jim Richards on being a Pilgrims Hospices trustee: “It is a very rewarding role”

    Pilgrims Hospices makes a difference each day to the lives of people across east Kent who are living with an incurable illness. Its leadership team reports to and is guided by a Board of Trustees, who voluntarily give their time and expertise to support the charity.

    Each decision made always leads back to the reason Pilgrims is here: to support and empower patients and families to live well in every moment.

    Jim Richards became a Pilgrims’ trustee in 2021; he shares what inspired him to get involved, and how the charity has a positive impact both within east Kent and beyond.


    What motivated you to become a Pilgrims trustee?

    I moved to Canterbury four years ago, having lived in Faversham for nearly 20 years.  I’d previously been a governor at both Ethelbert Road Primary School and Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Faversham, and had enjoyed those roles. Following the move to Canterbury and taking up a new job in early 2019, I wanted to settle into a routine before committing myself to further voluntary work within the local community.

    I’ve known people close to me who received wonderful care from the hospices in Canterbury and Thanet, and I have also supported Pilgrims through their walking and cycling charity fundraising events. My motivation for being a trustee is a combination of believing passionately about the fantastic work that Pilgrims delivers to local communities, and to become involved on a voluntary basis with a local charity.

    During 2021, I became aware of a vacancy for a trustee and put myself forward, and was formally appointed in September 2021.

    There are undoubtedly challenges to the jobs that people within Pilgrims do, but the enthusiasm and purpose to help others and deliver a fantastic service with compassion and care to patients and those closest to them is remarkable.

    Jim

    Is being a Pilgrims trustee different from what you expected? If so, in what way? Has anything surprised you?

    Given my previous role as a school governor, I think I was prepared for the type of activities that might be expected. But that has not stopped me from being humbled by the incredible energy and commitment that those who work for Pilgrims demonstrate on a daily basis, whether it be the care teams within the hospices, the volunteers in the shops and support teams, the leadership team, the catering staff, the community teams, the event organisers and everyone else.

    The hospice sector is not an area where I have had previous experience; my background is transport. But it is a changing sector, with developments in funding models, the importance of care in the community and a much greater awareness of end-of-life services in our society. 

    Why do you think it’s important to talk about death and dying? How is Pilgrims Hospices helping to lead the conversation and encourage change within wider society?

    Death is inevitable for us all, and yet it is something that as a society we have not been good at sharing and discussing. It seems to me that unlike other cultures and societies, we have treated death as something to be handled privately.

    The terrible and tragic losses experienced by far too many during the COVID-19 pandemic has perhaps galvanised the opportunity to have more open conversations. The loss of loved ones and questions over one’s own mortality have provided a platform for charities like Pilgrims to stimulate debate and awareness around the subjects of death and dying.  

    Pilgrims has been running a series of events across east Kent as part of its THINK campaign, designed to get people talking about death and bereavement, and to start planning for their end-of-life arrangements. In so doing, it can provide comfort and reassurance to individuals as they live out their final days, and to families, friends and loved ones during those emotional and challenging periods.

    Pilgrims also curates an online blog, After Wards, that features insights and ideas from people and organisations who can help us all to re-imagine this essential part of life, and to live well until we die.

    It is a very rewarding role, and indeed a privilege, to be part of a charity that is forward-looking and plays such an important part in our communities.

    Jim

    What is your favourite part about being a Pilgrims trustee?

    The people I’ve met have all been so welcoming and friendly. There are undoubtedly challenges to the jobs that people within Pilgrims do, but the enthusiasm and purpose to help others and deliver a fantastic service with compassion and care to patients and those closest to them is remarkable.

    I don’t really need an excuse to attend various events and fetes, but I have to say that the cake stalls and food at some of the events are a particular favourite – and I don’t even need to be a trustee to enjoy those!

    What does Pilgrims mean to you?

    Pilgrims means several things to me based on my experiences over recent years, and I am sure these will develop further over time.  

    As a trustee, I have become involved in the future strategic direction and governance of the hospice, and that is both a responsibility and a privilege. From a personal perspective, I have valued the care and support as loved ones have spent their final days in one of the hospices. Participating in the charity walking and cycling events count as real physical challenges that have helped raise money and pushed me to personal achievements. Finally, I love browsing the Pilgrims shops when I am in Canterbury, looking for a bargain book or items of clothing.

    What would you say to others who might consider becoming a Pilgrims trustee in the future?

    It is a very rewarding role, and indeed a privilege, to be part of a charity that is forward-looking and plays such an important part in our communities.

    I have been a trustee for a little over a year, but I am learning a tremendous amount and hope that I have been able to offer something to support Pilgrims as they look to the future.


    Trustees’ Week (7-11 November 2022) is a time to come together to celebrate the achievements of over 1 million trustees across the UK.


    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.

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