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.


    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.


    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.

    6th February 2020

    Pilgrims volunteer Lin will take on the hottest shortest sponsored walk in the world

    Lin Parsons from Kennington, Ashford has been a valued member of the volunteer team at Pilgrims Hospices for eight years. Lin’s mum was cared for at the Ashford hospice in 2009, before then, she had little idea of what the hospice was or what services it provided.

    Lin told us: “My mum received such wonderful care at the hospice, I was very keen to offer my services as a volunteer to help in any way I could.”

    Although she felt the need to be involved as soon as possible after the loss of her mum, the support services around Pilgrims care insists families and friends who’ve suffered a loss, take sufficient time to grieve and re-adjust to their loss before taking up a commitment as a Pilgrims volunteer.

    Lin added: “In the meantime, I gave my support to Pilgrims in other ways by getting involved with fundraising activities such as Pilgrims night-time walks and I play Pilgrims Lottery. When I was ready, I joined the regular volunteers as part of the hospice reception team.”

    My mum received such wonderful care at the hospice.


    Pensioner Lin, was employed for 28 years as a barmaid in the Ashford Golf Club: “I loved working with people, I’m a very social person, my job at the golf club allowed me to be flexible as my family grew up.

    “I still love to be around people so, my role with Pilgrims, greeting visitors and helping with the refreshment trollies and chatting with patients is so rewarding.” Lin added.

    Lin keeps busy with some shifts at the golf club, looking after her grandchildren and walking her dog, but she has still found time to take part in Pilgrims Firewalk on Saturday 14 March.

    “I’m really looking forward to taking on this challenge, I’ve never done anything quite like this before. I was encouraged to join the team of nurses and Pilgrims staff who have already signed up to take part. I thought, here goes!

    “I’m encouraging my friends and family to sponsor me to brave the daring dash across the red-hot wood embers. I know the money I raise will truly help to make a difference to people who need hospice care the most.

    “My role as a volunteer allows me to see first-hand some of the amazing work carried out by the nursing staff.

    “It really is the perfect place for end of life care and I am so pleased to support such a worthwhile charity.”

    You can support Lin’s Firewalk for Pilgrims by sponsoring her JustGiving page.

    Robert Grew, Pilgrims Challenge Events Manager said: “We applaude Lin for everything she does and for hot-footing it across the fire for Pilgrims Hospices. We are pleased to bring the event back for the 5th year. It’s the ultimate test of courage and perfect challenge for any fitness level. Our supporters tell us time and time again just how much they love it.”

    If you would like to take part in the Firewalk, please click here and register for the shortest hottest, shortest, sponsored walk in the world.

    Each year Pilgrims Hospices give care and comfort to over 2,400 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.

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