5th June 2024

    Lois-Jane celebrates fantastic volunteering journey with Pilgrims Hospices

    Lois-Jane Thompson, an NHS worker from Folkestone, has been volunteering for Pilgrims Hospices since the charity’s earliest days.

    After her father, John, died from cancer in 1975 aged 47, her mother, Sylvia, began home sitting for other local people to give families some much-needed respite; an initiative started by Ann Robertson, Pilgrims’ founder and lifetime president, and Christine Pledger, a founding fundraiser of the charity. At the same time, fundraising got underway to build the first hospice, and so began Lois-Jane’s lifelong volunteering journey.

    I work full-time, I have a very busy family life, and I do only as much as I am happy with – but I also feel that the little I do is truly appreciated.


    Lois-Jane said: “We didn’t have the benefit of a hospice when my father died, but we did have a Marie Curie nurse, and I’m so pleased that the hospices are now there for others.

    “My mother was involved with monthly coffee mornings at the Holy Trinity Church in Folkestone and bucket collections at local shops and Eurotunnel. She sold Christmas Cards, daffodils and Christmas bells at various locations. Our family supported her when we could. When evening fundraising events began, my mother didn’t feel up to this, but my sister, Katy, and I jumped in wholeheartedly to help with registrations, and we haven’t looked back! Over the years, I’ve been involved with so many Pilgrims events – never missing a year! Even during the COVID-19 pandemic when events were held virtually, I did what I could to share and help publicise them.

    Lois-Jane at the Cycle Challenge 2024

    “Due to my own ill-health, I’m unable to walk, run or cycle to raise money for Pilgrims, which is why I help with registrations. And please don’t ask me to bake a cake!”

    Lois-Jane enjoys every aspect of her role at Pilgrims events, meeting people and joining in with the bustling, uplifting energy of the day. She is often recognisable by her trademark pink cowboy hat.

    She added: “I love checking people in and being there to welcome them back, congratulate them and put a medal around their neck; it’s truly rewarding. I always thank them for helping to raise funds by pushing themselves to run, walk or cycle, and they thank me back – but I say: “I do what I do because I can’t do what you do!” The money wouldn’t be raised if people didn’t take part in events, but without the people behind the scenes the events couldn’t be held – and so I feel we’re all doing our bit. I think it is testament to how well things are organised by the fundraising team that we see new and old faces year after year taking part, and I have made some good friends along the way.”

    And what would Lois-Jane say to someone who is considering volunteering for Pilgrims?

    “Please do it! There are so many different roles and there is no commitment beyond what you are happy to do, be it an hour holding a collecting bucket or spending all day at an event. There are also various roles available within the hospices and local shops. I work full-time, I have a very busy family life, and I do only as much as I am happy with – but I also feel that the little I do is truly appreciated.”

    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.

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