20th June 2024

    Dottie’s Little Hog Hospital brings joy to Pilgrims Hospices Living Well therapy group

    On 12 June 2024, the serene Therapy Centre at Pilgrims Hospices in Canterbury was filled with excitement and curiosity as we welcomed guest speaker Jo with some very special guests from Dottie’s Little Hog Hospital, which is based at Retreat into Wonderland in Herne Bay.

    Our patients using the Wellbeing and Therapy Centre services were delighted to meet a variety of animals, including guinea pigs, an owl, and an impressively large tortoise named Dave.

    The visit was part of our ongoing efforts to provide enriching and therapeutic experiences for our patients. Animals have a unique way of bringing comfort and joy, and this visit was no exception. The patients were particularly fascinated by the stories from the rescue centre in Herne Bay, where they specialise in the care and rehabilitation of hedgehogs.

    The star of the day was undoubtedly Mumbles, a three-year-old barn owl whose majestic presence captivated everyone in the room. Alongside Mumbles were some adorable guinea pigs, Barry, Wednesday, and Morticia, who brought smiles and laughter with their antics.

    Dave the tortoise was another highlight. His slow and steady demeanour provided a soothing presence, allowing patients to engage in gentle interaction. The combination of different animals offered a rich, multi-sensory experience that everyone enjoyed.

    Our patients eagerly asked questions and shared their own stories about pets and wildlife. It was heart-warming to see how the presence of these animals sparked conversations and lifted spirits. Learning about the rescue work that is undertaken at Dottie’s Little Hog Hospital provided an additional layer of interest and connection.

    This visit underscores the importance of animal-assisted therapy as part of the comprehensive care provided at Pilgrims Hospices. Such interactions are invaluable, not only for the joy they bring but also for the therapeutic benefits they offer. The smiles, the laughter, and the meaningful conversations that ensued are a testament to the positive impact of these visits.

    Sharon Smith, Pilgrims Hospices Lead Wellbeing Practitioner, emphasises the value of group therapy: “This group allows members to offload and share experiences with like-minded people, find and make friends. It’s incredible to see how much our patients enjoy their weekly meetings. The connections and support they find here are essential to their overall wellbeing.”

    We are grateful to Dottie’s Little Hog Hospital for their continued support and dedication to our patients. These moments of happiness and engagement are crucial for the well-being of our community, and we look forward to many more visits in the future.

    For more information about Dottie’s Little Hog Hospital and their rescue work, please visit their Facebook page.

    If you would like more information on services available at Pilgrims Hospices in Ashford, Canterbury and Thanet, or within the east Kent community, please contact our team. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of both people and animals.

    Supporting Wellbeing at Pilgrims Hospices

    Our Wellbeing Programme is free if you live in east Kent and you have been diagnosed with an incurable illness. It aims to enhance your wellbeing – in mind and body. Services are also available for carers – be they friends or family – to support them with self-care, too.

    If you talk to us sooner, we can do so much more. Pilgrims Therapy Centres are an important part of the care and support we provide to our patients and their families. Our new Wellbeing Menu offers a range of therapeutic, creative, social and educational groups and activities designed to support you to live well, in both mind and body, for as long as possible.

    Our experienced team will work closely with you, and those who are important to you, to help you identify which programmes can help you now and in the future. We will also work alongside your GP and other professionals involved in your care.

    Pilgrims Hospices Therapy Centre and Living Well group continue to create a nurturing environment where patients can find joy, comfort and support. The recent visit from Dottie’s Hedgehog Hotel is just one example of the enriching experiences we strive to provide, ensuring our patients live well in both mind and body.

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

    4th June 2024

    John’s journey: Finding solace and connection through Pilgrims Hospices’ Walk and Talk for Carers

    John from Sandwich reflects on the benefits of Pilgrims Hospices Walk and Talk group for carers. John kindly took time to share his thoughts, encouraging those who care for their loved ones in Pilgrims care to invest a little time in themselves just once each week.

    As a dedicated attendee of the Walk and Talk group, he shares his heartfelt sentiments about his experiences.

    “Being part of Pilgrims Hospices’ support network has been a true blessing for both myself and my wife, Isabel. She was referred by her GP to Pilgrims for assistance with managing her COPD and breathlessness. The support we’ve received has been invaluable, offering helpful advice. We both have a sense of profound gratitude for the care provided. We truly feel supported in our journey.

    “Isabel has been under Pilgrims’ care since September 2023, which led me to join the Walk and Talk for Carers group. As a keen walker, I have stravaiged  (to quote such a lovely Scottish word for walking) the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, including the West Highland Way and the Road to the Isles. With an adventurous spirit, honed through years as a police officer and trainer of police recruits, I find solace in the tranquility of nature.

    “Joining the Walk and Talk group has been a delightful experience. The beauty of nature surrounds us, from the serene bird songs to the captivating sightings of rarer species such as Cetti’s Warbler and the White Egret. It’s incredible to witness the resurgence of wildlife.

    Our Carers Walking Group enables people to share life experiences, common concerns, and their different coping strategies. It’s a chance for carers to ensure they are looking after themselves in order to best look after their loved one.

    Jane Stanley, Pilgrims Hospices Wellbeing Practitioner

    “Our small group welcomes all who seek companionship and respite while caring for a loved one. Despite occasional weather constraints, we’ve never missed a walk. It’s a chance to connect, share stories, and appreciate the wonders of nature together. The camaraderie forged is truly special.

    “The Walk and Talk group isn’t just about physical exercise; it’s a sanctuary for carers to rejuvenate their spirits and form lasting bonds. Supported by the Pilgrims’ Wellbeing team, we find solace in each other’s company. At three score years and ten, I cherish these moments of relaxation and reflection, savouring my retirement alongside newfound friends.”

    “Isabel and I share a lifetime of memories, from our meeting at Stirling University to our adventures among the Scottish islands and around the Rocky Mountains and the trails of Canada.”

    During the walks, John said: “I have the chance to reminisce about life’s twists and turns, from witnessing the nearby Richborough cooling towers rise and fall, to celebrating such milestones as my marriage to Isabel at Gretna Green. Even while apart, our bond remains strong, with Isabel having time to indulge in, and catch up on, her favourite TV shows, while I treasure recalling my time as a pipe major, playing the bagpipes in Edinburgh Castle, and leading marches through the streets of London and Tokyo.

    “In essence, the Walk and Talk for Carers group embodies the spirit of companionship and renewal, offering respite from life’s demands and fostering connections that enrich our souls.

    “Every Monday afternoon you can join us on our Walk and Talk for Carers group through Pegwell Bay Country Park. It is led by two of the hospice staff. You can take time out, and breathe in the invigorating fresh sea air. It’s flat ground — nothing too strenuous. We talk about everything and nothing or just share a laugh.

    “The reserve is a mosaic of habitats of saltmarsh, mudflats and chalk shore. Pegwell is the major wildlife migration route from and to Europe. As the season dictates, you can watch thousands of lapwings on their long migration routes. Our group has seen shelducks, redshanks, avocets, oystercatchers, terns and cormorants, and a whole list more. Our favourite is a white egret, whose presence seems to welcome us on each walk.

    I cherish these moments of relaxation and reflection, savouring my retirement alongside newfound friends.


    “Across from the Shellness point of the River Stour is the largest breeding ground for Common or Harbour seals in Kent. It is wonderful to see them resting on the sandbank curled up head and tail, looking like bananas. The walk passes through scrubland, dogwood meadows, and grazing for highland cattle and wild but gentle horses. The walk takes about an hour but no one is rushing you. If we have been very good, there is a cafe at the end of the walk to enjoy a cuppa, rest our feet, and continue our chats.

    “The walks are a light hearted, friendly and no doubt healthy break from carers duties. If you do need a serious talk, then there are those there to listen who understand.

    “So put on a woolly hat, stout walking shoes, and a warm coat, and I will lend you a set of binoculars.”

    Thank you for sharing your story, John, you will have inspired so many of us to take in the fresh air!

    For information about Pilgrims Hospices Welling services, please email wellbeing@pilgrimshospices.org or call 01233 504 127 to talk to a member of our care team.

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

    10th August 2023

    Kev Rob and Eddie are making the most of Pilgrims therapy groups

    Pilgrims Hospices Wellbeing groups offer a holistic approach to improving the quality of life for their patients. The groups provide a variety of activities and sessions that aim to enhance both mental and emotional wellbeing.


    Therapy Group users Kev, Rob and Eddie share their thoughts on the benefits of Pilgrims Wellbeing.

    Kev – when I initially came along to the Wellbeing Groups at Pilgrims, I went home and said to my wife Gwenn, this isn’t for me.  She persuaded me to give it a little time; I’m so pleased that I did, I have met friendly and interesting people in the groups and enjoyed some of the variety of entertainment and talks that have been provided by the Wellbeing teams.

    I discovered that talking and listening to people who are experiencing similar symptoms, and things that I’m experiencing, is really good therapy.  I’ve had a chance to express my feelings in a relaxed and friendly environment.

    I was a plumber in my working career, and have met people from all walks of life; here at the Therapy Centre, I’ve found lots in common with so many people here, and laugh a great deal when we’re all together.

    We’ve made great friendships, and will exchange telephone numbers in order to stay in touch; we hope to continue to meet even after our therapy sessions have finished.

    Rob – I’ve been very lucky and blessed with an interesting life.  I had my own taxi cab firm in central London, then noticed there was a greater need for ambulance services.  I introduced a private ambulance service, which supports the London hospitals including the NHS. I’ve had an interesting and varied career, and have been fortunate to learn to fly a plane amongst many other interesting things.

    I’ve been managing my brain cancer diagnosis since May 2022.  I had been very fit and healthy until then. I woke up one morning to find myself shuffling, and not really able to pick my feet up.  After scans and consultations with the neurological doctor, it was a shock, as there really hadn’t been any warning that I was becoming unwell.

    Rob who is 67 years of age, said, “We take our health for granted, I’m doing as much as possible to remain active, and enjoying life as best I can.  I have my wife, children and grandchildren for support which is really special for me.  My visits to the Pilgrims Therapy Centre keep me feeling very positive, and I enjoy the company of others using the Wellbeing services, and the Pilgrims teams are always there full of positive messages, and useful information about support services, and how to look after myself.”

    Eddie – I was a plumber and have worked in a huge variety of properties for a wide variety of companies and people.  We often laugh a lot while we’re here at the Therapy Centre, when we’re chatting about our life’s experiences.  I can’t express enough how important the groups are, to keep everyone focused on looking after themselves and making the very most of our own skills.

    Although I have to keep my meals to quite simple foods, I’m always so well catered for at the group lunches.  It’s a pleasure to sit and catch up with the group, we talk about our families, what’s happening locally, how we’re all feeling, what happens next and so much more.  But perhaps more than any other thing, we laugh and relax with the Pilgrims care team.

    The gentlemen are soon to move on from Pilgrims Hospices Wellbeing Groups, having had support to give them skills and confidence to live life to the full in every moment.  With new friendships forged, they hope to continue to meet socially and share their experiences moving forward.

    Pilgrims team of nurses, doctors and therapists work together to offer a range of Wellbeing programmes to support patients, their families and friends.

    Offering services to help people live better at home; these are available through the Wellbeing and Social Programmes held at our Therapy Centres.  By helping to manage symptoms, the care teams can support people to cope with the changes in their lives, giving practical advice, and helping people to think about the future.

    Pilgrims’ Wellbeing Programme is free if you live in east Kent and you have been diagnosed with an incurable illness. It aims to enhance your wellbeing – in mind and body. To find out more click here.

    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.


    28th July 2023

    Hundreds join together to celebrate treasured memories with sunflowers

    Pilgrims Hospices were visited by more than 600 people in their gardens at Canterbury, Thanet and Ashford to find their loved one’s dedicated sunflower memory markers. Despite predictions of a slightly damp weekend ahead, the rain stayed away and there was a lovely atmosphere at each event with the opportunity for friends and family to remember and celebrate their loved ones’ lives.

    Visitors were welcomed with tea, cake and strawberries with cream served by Pilgrims volunteers in the charity’s Therapy Centres. These spaces, most often used by the Wellbeing Teams for their Living Well and creative art sessions, hosted beautiful displays of sunflower-themed artworks made by patients and carers.

    Members of the Wellbeing Team were present on the day, to speak to visitors about their work, and hear their memories of lost loved ones. Jane, Wellbeing Practitioner at the Thanet Hospice, said: “Families talked about the calm and peaceful feelings they had about being back at the hospice, that it is a safe space for them to talk in, how they felt cared for and that carers too were treated with such dignity both before and after their loved one had died. Some had found it hard to return but then were able to cry, laugh and feel they had made a positive step forward by attending the event. It was a day that was right for both those whose feelings were still incredibly raw, and for those who were returning after 10 years of attending.”


    In the lead up to the events, the team at Pilgrims reached out to the local community to help support the event. Ellie Cane, who runs the events at the Hospice, extended her thanks saying:

    “Thank you to everyone who kindly donated which helped make the events such a success. To all the keen crafters and knitters who produced beautiful items to sell for donations on the day; Meadow Grange Nursery and our volunteer gardeners who grew over 200 sunflowers plants; and to the Tesco Community Champions and S & A Farms who provided the strawberries for us to serve to our visitors. I’m delighted to say this year’s Sunflower Memories Appeal has so far raised in excess of £36,000, with donations still coming in. This just would not have been possible without the collective effort of our staff, volunteers and our amazing local community.”

    There is still time to donate to have a dedicated sunflower memory marker sent to you in memory of your loved one. For more information contact the Pilgrims Hospices Supporter Relations Team on 01227 782062, or at supporter.relations@pilgrimshospices.org.

    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.

    27th July 2023

    Wellbeing team get well deserved recognition

    Congratulations to Pilgrims Hospices Wellbeing team, on being selected as a finalist for the prestigious NAPA Member Awards! This recognition is a testament to the dedication, expertise, and exceptional contributions the team has made, in the field of patient wellbeing. Being among the top contenders for this esteemed award is a true honour and a reflection of the hard work and commitment of everyone involved in patient care at Pilgrims Hospices.

    It’s wonderful to see that the National Activity Providers Association has extended their warmest congratulations on your outstanding achievements. Being nominated for The Activity Team Award is a significant accomplishment and highlights the positive impact the team has made in the activity provider industry.

    The awards ceremony at the Museum of Brands in London, which is set to take place in October, promises to be a memorable event. It will be a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the remarkable achievements of all the finalists and to network with others in the industry. Pilgrims Wellbeing team have earned this recognition, and it’s a well-deserved moment to be acknowledged for their hard work and contributions.

    Best of luck to the Wellbeing team at the awards ceremony! Regardless of the outcome, the recognition itself is a testament to the collective effort and commitment of your team in providing excellent patient care and promoting wellbeing. Enjoy the celebration and congratulations once again on this fantastic achievement!


Go back