8th July 2020

    Louise walks on the one-year anniversary of her mum’s death

    On the one-year anniversary of her mum’s death at Pilgrims Hospices, Ashford, Louise will join many others as they virtually hike the Isle of Wight Coastal Path.

    Louise Brooks, from Tenterden, has signed up to the Isle of Wight Coastal Path Virtual Hike to raise much-needed funds for Pilgrims Hospices in memory of her mum, Barbara Huckstep.

    Here, Louise tells us about her mum, Barbara, and why she is forever grateful for the care, support and comfort that Pilgrims Hospices gave her family.

    “Mum was first diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 1999, it was treated with chemotherapy and she was given the clear. In 2016 however we received the news that she had secondary Breast Cancer and it had moved to her lymph nodes and bones. Once again, mum fought it hard with chemotherapy and was determined for life to stay normal. By 2019, this simply wasn’t possible anymore.

    Together, as a family, we celebrated mum’s 70th birthday in March 2019. She was breathless, tired and weak. By June mum had deteriorated quickly, and we learnt that the cancer had spread to her brain and liver. This is when we learnt about Pilgrims Hospices.

    Barbara and her husband on her 70th Birthday

    After a short-stay in hospital, mum was welcomed into Pilgrims Hospices, Ashford, with open arms and thank goodness she was. As soon as I walked in I relaxed. I knew she wasn’t going to be coming home, but I knew she was going to be made comfortable and be looked after.

    Shortly after we got mum settled in her room, Rodney, the Ashford PAT dog, was visiting the patients on the ward. He entered mum’s room and instantly joined her on her bed; nestling into her. Rodney’s owner spoke of how rare it was for him to do this to patients. Mum adored dogs and she was overjoyed to be able to stroke him. That was the first time in days that I’d seen mum smile and be aware of her surroundings, it’s something that will stay with me forever.

    Dad, my sister and I were introduced to the nursing team, and they carefully took us through mum’s care plan. Before mum’s stay at Pilgrims Hospices I wasn’t aware of the holistic approach that the hospice takes to patient care, and the family. In her final days the hospice made it possible for us to be together as a family, one last time. I cannot even begin to thank them all enough.

    Mum had a peaceful 6 days in the hospice. We were allowed to be with her 24/7, until her fight ended on 8th July 2019.

    The one-year anniversary of mum’s death was approaching and it seemed like the perfect time to do something positive in mum’s memory. Straight away I knew I wanted to raise money for Pilgrims Hospices so that they can be there for the next family, just like they were for mine. I saw the Isle of Wight Coastal Path Virtual Hike and thought perfect; within an hour I was out walking my first 3 miles. The generosity of friends and family has been overwhelming, it’s spurred me on to complete the 70 mile virtual hike and this is just the beginning of my fundraising journey for Pilgrims Hospices.”

    Louise has set up a JustGiving page for her Isle of Wight Coastal Path to raise vital funds for Pilgrims Hospices. If you’d like to support Louise on her virtual hike you can here

    There’s still time to sign up to the Isle of Wight Coastal Path Virtual Hike and challenge yourself this July for local hospice care in east Kent: Sign up here.


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

    3rd June 2020

    Su and Zahra White walk with their memories along the Hadrian’s Wall Path

    The month of June is a special time of year for Su and Zahra White, and this year they’ve chosen to walk with the memories of a very dear mum and nanny, as they challenge themselves to hiking 88-miles to raise funds for local hospice care by taking part in Pilgrims Hospices Hadrian’s Wall Path Virtual Hike.

    In 2015, Su’s mum and Zahra’s nanny,  Hazel Riddlesden, learnt that her cancer was now terminal. After being moved into a local care home in Herne Bay, the Pilgrims Hospices Hospice at Home Team began to support Hazel and her family to ensure she continued to live life well in mind, body and soul. The family were told that Hazel was now entering the final days of her life and together, they’d need to decide on the next steps. It was at this point that Hazel asked to be admitted to Pilgrims Hospices for her final days.

    Mum asked to be admitted to Pilgrims Hospices in Canterbury as she felt they would provide the peaceful surroundings she wanted to live out her final days.”
    Su

    Hazel spent 5 days with Pilgrims Hospices in June 2015, and the family received an overwhelming level of support and care from the nurses and the wider staff. At such a difficult time, this support enabled the family to spend Hazel’s final days together. Of the care they received, Su White said:

    “I knew very little about hospices or the support they provide, but can honestly say that for the wider family it was like someone had taken away all the day-to-day stresses and wrapped all of us in a comfort blanket where we felt safe, and unconditional support. My daughter, Zahra, who was just 8 years old at the time, was very close to her wonderful nanny and she was included in the support given which was very important to us”

    After spending so much time inside the house during lockdown, Su and Zahra were attracted to the Hadrian’s Wall Path Virtual Hike as it gave them a reason to explore their local countryside and to push themselves on their daily walks. The virtual hike also naturally fits with the time of year that they especially remember Su’s mum and Zahra’s nanny. Su and Zahra will be walking with the memories of Hazel this June to raise much needed funds to support the nurses, doctors and wider staff who are Still Here; Still Caring for individuals, and families, across east Kent who are living with an incurable illness.

    The beautiful seaside town of Herne Bay is home to many public footpaths, open fields, woodlands and coastal paths. Su and Zahra will be taking advantage of these stunning backdrops for their daily hikes as they edge towards their goal of 88 miles to virtually complete the historic Hadrian’s Wall Path.

    Su and Zahra have set up a JustGiving page to raise funds for Pilgrims Hospices – if you’d like to support their challenge, you can do here:


    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.

    22nd May 2020

    Bernie’s bald move for Pilgrims Hospices raises more than £1,000

    Stay Home Hospice Hero Bernie Brisco, Health Care Assistant at Pilgrims Hospice Ashford, turned 50 on Tuesday 19 May and in doing so raised over £1,000 for the charity.


    To celebrate, Bernie had planned a fabulous party and overnight camp out with many of her friends and hospice colleagues. However due to COVID-19 these plans, as for so many others, had to be cancelled.

    Bernie on her birthday pre-shave

    Bernie still wanted to mark the occasion in a way that she would remember so that she would have something to look back on; so, she decided instead to shave her head. Bernie explained: “As well as being a nurse I am also my brother Matty’s carer and have continued to be so during this lockdown. I have for many years shaved his head and thought, ‘Why not do mine?’ and immediately decided to see if I could raise funds for Pilgrims Hospices at the same time.

    “I love working for Pilgrims, it is such a fantastic charity caring for those who need our specialist support. With people unable to do so many of our normal events to support Pilgrims, this was something I could do.”

    Bernie decided that when she shaved her hair, she wasn’t going to just have a Grade 1 all over, she was going to go totally bald and be proud of it. On Tuesday 19 May, Bernie braved the clippers.

    Katie Brisco, her daughter, said: “My mum has always been a person who puts other people first. She is definitely my role model for life; I am very proud of her. She never expected to raise such a huge sum. She is a superstar.”

    Deirdre Mewse, Community Fundraising Officer, added:

    “A huge thank you to Bernie for going above and beyond to fundraise for Pilgrims, especially during these challenging times. The kindness and generosity she has shown is so appreciated. Alongside our whole Pilgrims team, Bernie is still here, still caring for patients and families across east Kent who are living with incurable illness. We can’t thank our care teams enough for the frontline support they are providing throughout COVID-19.”

    You can still sponsor Bernie via her Facebook fundraising page.

    There are so many ways you can continue to support Pilgrims, even from your homes. Visit the Pilgrims website for some virtual challenges and become a #StayHomeHospiceHero and help to make a difference from your home.

    If you would like to take on a challenge in support of Pilgrims we would love to hear from you. Please contact our fundraising team or join our new virtual Facebook community for ideas.

    We need you more than ever; our local community means everything to us.

    Thank you.


    Each year Pilgrims Hospices give care and comfort to over 2,400 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. To offer these services the charity must raise £11 million each year from the generous local community.

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