Susan Charles’ dad, John Newman, was cared for at Pilgrims Hospice Canterbury in 2015. The family now dedicate a dove in his memory on our illuminated Trees of Love as part of our annual festive campaign. Here, Susan shares how this helps them to feel connected and remember John, who loved Christmas, and enables them to give back to the charity.
My dad was a devoted family man, always ready to help someone – usually my brother and I when we uttered, “Dad, can you just…”. “Can you just” usually meant some type of building work, as this was his trade as well as being a retained firefighter.
Dad had a brilliant sense of humour and enjoyed cruising holidays with my mum, where they’d be up on the dancefloor as soon as the music started. It was on a cruise when he knew that something wasn’t quite right, after which it was discovered Dad had a rare form of lung cancer.
For us, the Trees of Love service is our annual pilgrimage back to where we feel most connected, for this was our home for a short while. Dad loved Christmas so it’s a fitting way to remember him by hanging our special dove on the tree and listening to the beautiful service.
Dad’s end of life wish was that we could be together as a family. The level of care we received from all the Pilgrims staff was beyond anything we had experienced. Without the constraints of rigid visiting hours, Pilgrims became our other home during this time and we got to know other patients and family members on the ward, propping one another up when needed.
For us, the Trees of Love service is our annual pilgrimage back to where we feel most connected, for this was our home for a short while. Dad loved Christmas so it’s a fitting way to remember him by hanging our special dove on the tree and listening to the beautiful service. Everyone there has a shared experience and understands any range of emotion displayed. It is our chance to give a little something back to where end of life wishes are granted, and to be part of the amazing Pilgrims Hospices once again.
We also offer indoor services with seating across our east Kent community:
- St Nicholas Church, New Romney, 5pm on Saturday 1 December
- All Souls Church, Cheriton, Folkestone, 5pm on Sunday 2 December
- Assembly Rooms, New Romney, 3pm on Saturday 8 December
- St Peter and St Paul Church, River, Dover, 4pm on Sunday 9 December
- Barham Crematorium, Barham, 4.30pm on Friday 14 December
- Charing Crematorium, Charing, 4.30pm on Friday 14 December
To dedicate a dove in memory of a loved one please visit pilgrimshospices.org/treesoflove or contact Sophie or Sara:
- Telephone: 01227 782 066