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Run for St Luke’s and go the distance in our 40th anniversary year

If ever there was a year to run in aid St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth, this is it!

Whether you’re an experienced runner or fairly new to the sport, we’re asking you to put your best foot forward for our patients in our 40th anniversary year by signing up to take part in Britain’s Ocean City Running Festival on Sunday 19 June or the London Marathon on Sunday 2 October.

With 40 – and hopefully, many more! – big-hearted people like you running the 5k, 10k or half marathon to raise much-needed funds for St Luke’s, we’ll be able to reach more of the local families who rely on our compassionate care and support at the toughest time of their lives.

Perhaps you’ve run in support of our charity before, or maybe this will be the first time – either way, it shows great kindness for your community.

Whichever race you sign up to, we couldn’t be more grateful. You’ll help us keep going that extra mile for our patients and their loved ones so they can make precious memories together when time is running short.

Britain’s Ocean City Running Festival

Right here in our great city on 19 June 2022, there’s the opportunity to take on a 5k, 10k or even a half marathon to fundraise for our charity, so we’re seeking 40 (or more!) runners who are up for the challenge.

Sign up to support St Luke’s and run a route widely respected as one of the most challenging in the UK as well as full of local landmarks.

 

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Open Island Guided Tour 2022

This is your chance to explore the exciting and historic Drake’s Island, set in the beautiful surroundings of Plymouth Sound. This promises to be a fascinating journey into Drake’s Island’s story through the ages.

During its fascinating history, the Island – which was born out of the sea 400 million years ago – has been a place of pilgrimage, a refuge, a fort, a prison and an observatory, while local people of a certain age are most likely to remember it as an adventure centre in the 1960s and 70s.

With the site being out of bounds to the general public since 1989, it is a place many long to visit so they can discover its secrets and learn about its past. Those lucky enough to snap up one of the places to visit the historic location will get the opportunity to do just that as they get the lowdown from the Island’s Warden, avid historian Bob King, who will lead the tour.

The day includes a historical guided tour and exploration of the hidden network of abandoned underground tunnels.

This adventure could make a memorable gift to someone, or simply a very special way to raise funds for St Luke’s. All ticket sales will go directly to our charity (except a small booking fee).

Click here to book your tickets.

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Open Gardens 2022

Always an annual highlight, our Open Gardens season feels even more special this time around. That’s because 2022 is our 40th anniversary year!

We simply couldn’t have reached this milestone without the kindness of all our supporters. This includes everyone who attends our Open Gardens and, of course, the big-hearted people who throw open their beautiful gardens to welcome them. Together, over the 12 years the scheme has been running, you have raised more than £429,000 to help local families receive our charity’s compassionate care, and we couldn’t be more grateful.

A huge thank you to NFU Mutual Plymouth for sponsoring this year’s scheme – please look out for their stand at our gardens this season.

Whether you’re a green-fingered guru or someone who simply enjoys being outside in the beauty of nature, we’ve got a diverse selection of enchanting gardens to delight and inspire you this season. Many of our featured gardens are hidden gems not normally open to the public, so visiting is a rare chance for you to get an insight into garden planning and planting schemes. For a Mothering Sunday treat, we have the opening of Gnaton Hall’s spectacular spring gardens on 27 March. Come and explore this private estate and enjoy tea and cake on the lawns.

Gnaton Hall | 27 March | 2pm – 5pm | PL8 2HU

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Enjoy over five acres. which include a spectacular display of daffodils, walled gardens and grand Magnolia trees. Peaceful woodland walks surround the terraced lawns, where a selection of delicious cakes will be served.

Mothecombe | 15 May | 11am – 5pm | PL8 1LB

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Approached through its pretty hamlet of thatched cottages, Mothecombe has a formal walled garden with a terrace by Sir Edwin Lutyens. A gravel walk through the orchard and bluebell woods, planted with a wide variety interesting trees and shrubs, leads past the bog gardens and down to the private beach.

Flete House | 3 July | 12 – 5pm | PL21 9NZ

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The enigmatic and fascinating Flete House is surrounded with elegantly landscaped parkland estate. The Italianate gardens, shrubbery and water gardens are complimented by some excellent specimen trees and panoramic views of the beautiful South Hams. Join us for exclusive access to the private and historic Devon estate.

These and all our other Open Gardens provide an enjoyable and inspiring way for our supporters to raise vital funds for local hospice care. Please let your family and friends know so that they can visit, too. The more people who support our events, the more families St Luke’s can help across Plymouth, West Devon and East Cornwall.

Tickets are available on the day, and we have a contactless payment facility as well as accepting cash. Entry is free for under-16s. We aim to offer refreshments and plant sales at all our gardens, where possible.

On behalf of all of us at St Luke’s – and everyone we look after- a big thank-you to our visitors, garden owners and volunteers who make our Open Gardens scheme so popular and successful.

For directions and details visit our Open Gardens webpage.

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High-quality integrated care that benefits patients at the end of their lives

On our 40th anniversary, we’ve been talking about the history of our charity from its beginnings at Syrena House in Plymstock, in 1982. Much has changed since the days when the specialism of hospice care was completely new to most of the UK, including Plymouth, and St Luke’s was limited to just seven beds for patients. 

Now, four decades on from the cramped conditions of Syrena House – the suburban property that was bought and converted thanks to huge community support so that our hospice could begin giving its specialist care to terminally ill people nearing the end of their lives – St Luke’s looks after up to 300 patients at any one time, supporting their families and carers, too.

Central to this is our integrated approach to patient care, which involves working closely with other health and social care providers, from GPs and district nurses to hospitals and care homes. This is what ensures people living with progressive life-limiting conditions, such as cancer, motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis, are looked after compassionately and as seamlessly as possible whether they are at home, in hospital or at Turnchapel.

“Always pioneering, St Luke’s was the first hospice in the UK to adopt this more collaborative way of working, in 2005.”

Always pioneering, St Luke’s was the first hospice in the UK to adopt this more collaborative way of working, in 2005. Many other hospices up and down the country then learned from its example, following a similar approach for the benefit of people living and dying with terminal illness.

Innovative since its beginning, St Luke’s has evolved to meet the changing needs of our patients. This means our highly trusted service reaches far beyond the walls of the specialist inpatient unit, with our community team on the road 365 days a year across Plymouth and its surrounding areas so that, wherever possible, people who want to be looked after at home can realise their wish.

Chief Executive Steve Statham said: “For each and every one of our patients, we strive to give the very best personalised care in the place that is right for them. For many, this means staying in the familiar surroundings of home, as long as it is safe to do so. Wherever we look after them though, it is always with a focus on what matters most to them, helping them to be as at ease as possible.

“We are privileged and proud to do what we do, but it is only made possible thanks to the generous support our charity receives from the community around us. A huge thank you to everyone who embraces St Luke’s, from our volunteers, donors and fundraisers to the healthcare partners who collaborate with us to ensure our patients receive such well co-ordinated, compassionate care.”

When manager Matt Geoffrey needed St Luke’s care in his early 40s, our community team looked after him at home so that he could stay with his wife Sarah and their two young children.

Sarah said: “Matt was determined he did not want to die in hospital, and it was St Luke’s that helped make a plan so that he could be at home, including supplying a wheelchair and special bed.

“The team was with us the whole way through and made it possible for us to still be a family. Thanks to them, our kids were able to be kids, which was amazing, and Matt was able to live to the end in the way he wanted to.

“It’s really hard to sum up how I feel about everything they did for us, but they were like our family’s professional comfort blanket. I can’t thank them enough.”

Music fan and family man Jim Tozer was looked after by St Luke’s at home before sadly, he died in 2019.

His wife Jeanette said: “Being a nurse meant I was able to care for Jim at home, but when his condition deteriorated and he required specialist help, St Luke’s nurse Sonja was amazing. She was a reassuring presence for us all.”

Claire Behennah’s daughter Chloe was just 22 when she needed the care of St Luke’s team at Turnchapel in 2017.

Claire said: “My last journey with my beautiful daughter was in an ambulance from hospital to Turnchapel after we decided as a family it was where Chloe should be looked after when she became really poorly.

“Going there was absolutely the right decision. It doesn’t feel clinical at all and from the moment we arrived, everyone from the doctors to the porters treated us with the utmost respect.

“I’m forever grateful to St Luke’s for what they did for us. I remember Chloe telling me she felt like princess when she was able to use the bath with lights and music. To feel like a princess in a hospice really is special.”

At the end of his life, Tom Hammond, 30, from Tavistock was looked after by St Luke’s at home following several weeks at Turnchapel. This meant he could spend precious time with his wife Jess, their daughter Poppy and Josh, Tom’s son from a previous relationship.

Jess said: “St Luke’s came once a day and then more frequently as our needs changed. They did as much as they could to help, and it meant I got a little break from looking after Tom and could spend time one-on-one with Poppy. What they did for us gave us the most amazing three weeks together at home.”

When Tom’s condition worsened, it was St Luke’s End of Life Urgent Care team that stepped in, visiting four times a day.

Jess said: “They were so kind and so calm, and because of their training they were able to alert me when Tom was nearing his last hours.”

Dr Mary Nugent in garden

On the 40th anniversary of St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth, we began our series focusing on the past of our charity that has touched the lives of so many local families over the past four decades. Today, we share the reflections of Dr Mary Nugent, who started as a young doctor at the hospice in our early years and soon became a central figure in the small yet dynamic team whose dedication, skills and compassion helped shape the specialist service for which St Luke’s is still renowned today.

Having been recruited by St Luke’s first Medical Director, Dr Sheila Cassidy, who spotted her potential and went on to become her mentor, Dr Mary – as she became known to everyone – joined the hospice in 1985. This was at Syrena House in Plymstock, the forerunner of the specialist inpatient unit at Turnchapel that was bought and converted, thanks to huge support from local people who believed in St Luke’s mission to relieve the pain and distress of terminally ill people nearing the end of their lives.

Dr Mary quickly found her vocation looking after patients holistically, recognising that in listening and focussing on what matters to them, alleviating their pain and putting them at ease, people with conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease can live well to the end of their lives and die with dignity.

Together, Sheila and Mary – plus the small team of nurses alongside them – developed this as their way of working, ensuring patients felt understood and uplifted and their families supported and reassured.

Dr Mary said: “When I joined St Luke’s, I could see how innovative the team was, giving bespoke care to terminally ill people as inpatients instead of them having to stay in hospital or being looked after at home. As a young doctor though, I could barely even spell palliative care so I was in at the deep end, and that’s how my journey with the hospice began.

“Space was incredibly tight at Syrena House, but we used every inch for the care and comfort our patients. We all crammed in together and just made it work. The bathroom even became the doctor’s office and we had a makeshift desk across the bath! There were just seven patient beds initially, with three more added later because patient referrals kept on coming.

“I found my niche at the hospice because we had the luxury of time to love and look after our patients. What we were doing was desperately needed by people in Plymouth and surrounding areas, and it was exciting to be part of developing something that was so pioneering.

“The camaraderie was tremendous, too. We were friends working together, all to help people who were in the last stages of life. I was quickly building on my basic medical knowledge, learning about the anatomy of being very sick and the effects and benefits of new drugs, then taking to the road to teach young doctors around the country about what we were doing and why it was so important.

“You have to remember that palliative care wasn’t recognised as a medical specialism until early 1994 – since which time is has grown and grown – so we were all just seen as ‘hospice doctors’. Recognition of the highly skilled work we were doing in hospice care only grew thanks to Dr Sheila Cassidy – and others like her – who had the insight and tenacity to make changes that were needed so that talking about death and dying became a bit less taboo and patients received more personalised care, maintaining their dignity.”

With a pressing need for larger premises, we embarked on a high-profile fundraising campaign for what became our purpose-built inpatient unit at Turnchapel, which opened in 1988. The 20-bed facility with beautiful views was built on land given to us by Plymouth City Council.

Dr Mary said: “When the move to Turnchapel came, it was a joy. Double the number of beds, plenty of bathrooms and wonderful new gadgets. We created the very best hospice environment we could, enabling people with terminal illness to be themselves and be looked after as themselves.

“There was great excitement when Prince Charles performed the official opening, in 1988, with crowds lining the driveway all waving their flags. He was well informed about the hospice movement and generous in his attitude, spending time talking to patients, volunteers and staff

Dr Mary, who became Medical Director of St Luke’s in 1993, has fond memories of the many patients she met as well as the family atmosphere Turnchapel provides for them, thanks to the kindness of staff and volunteers.

She said: “I remember patients’ weddings, which though they had to be arranged quickly by our team, were so beautiful and poignant. I also recall a lady who recognised me from the hospital and greeted me like a long-lost friend. She was determined to have at least three weeks of being looked after by me, and she did. I can still see her smiling face.”

During her time with the hospice Dr Mary witnessed – and was part of – a big expansion in the provision of palliative care, which included closer working between St Luke’s and the Primary Care Trusts to pioneer an integrated palliative care service. Whereas previously, Derriford Hospital had been separate to the hospice, in 2005 the new St Luke’s Hospital Service was established, with Dr Mary appointed its lead. In her dual roles of Palliative Care Consultant at Derriford and Medical Director at St Luke’s she was the link between the two organisations.

Dr Mary said: “I was made very welcome by the consultants. No barriers were put up and the integrated service at the hospital got into gear. This meant a joined-up service for patients, with hospice staff providing education and leadership for many hospital doctors and nurses.

“St Luke’s is a leader in palliative care, and the triple service it provides at home, in hospital and at the specialist unit has been replicated by many other hospices because they, too, have recognised how much patients benefit when they experience a seamless service. The needs of patients must always be at the centre of that service, and St Luke’s has never forgotten this.”

St Luke's nurses with CityBus Plymouth managing director

Big-hearted Citybus Plymouth backs local hospice care

Community-spirited Citybus Plymouth is helping St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth keep the wheels of our vital service turning by showing support in our 40th anniversary year.

With yesterday, 25 January, marking the day that 40 years ago we welcomed our first patients, Plymouth Citybus unveiled the bus it has decked out in St Luke’s branding to highlight our charity reaching such a special milestone.

Featuring some of the friendly faces of St Luke’s team, and the message of the hospice providing compassionate care for the community for 40 years, the bus will cover routes across the city throughout the year.

From humble beginnings at Syrena House in Plymstock to the multidisciplinary service we provide today, looking after terminally ill people at home, in hospital and at Turnchapel, St Luke’s cares for up to 300 patients at any given time and supports their families, too. We can do this at no cost to those we help, thanks to local individuals and organisations who fundraise, donate and volunteer to help keep our service going.

Support from local businesses is critical to ensuring St Luke’s resilience so we can reach more people who desperately need specialist care at the end of their lives.

Richard Stevens, Managing Director of Plymouth Citybus said: “Many of our team members and customers have been touched by St Luke’s in one way or another. Branding the bus for the charity is our way of saying thank you for superb care given and helping to make sure the whole city is aware of the brilliant work St Luke’s has done over the past 40 years.”

Steve Statham, Chief Executive of St Luke’s, said: “A big thank-you to Plymouth Citybus. Our eye-catching branded bus will raise more awareness of St Luke’s specialist service and the support from our community that makes it possible. The more local businesses who get behind our charity, the more families we can help over the next 40 years and beyond.”

 

St Luke’s 40th Anniversary – The Mini Documentary

It’s our birthday!

Proud to reach our 40th anniversary today, we couldn’t let such a special milestone pass by without saying a HUGE thank-you to all our supporters, as loyal now as you have always been.

From welcoming our first patients to Syrena House in Plymstock on this day in 1982 to our service of today, looking after people at home, in hospital and at Turnchapel, we simply couldn’t do as much as we do, as well as we do it, without the unwavering kindness of our community.

Your hearts full of compassion got St Luke’s started and they still keep us going.

Read more about our history here.

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The power of hundreds of local men on the move

We’ve launched Men’s Day Out, one of our flagship fundraising events, inviting men to gather together outdoors and go the extra mile to do good for local families going through the toughest of times.

Men’s Day Out is one of the city’s most iconic annual charity events. It raises vital funds to support the compassionate care our hospice provides for terminally ill people 365 days a year at home, in hospital and at our specialist unit at Turnchapel.

Walking in memory of loved ones no longer with them, who will never be forgotten

Places for Men’s Day Out on Saturday 23 April are expected to sell out quickly. This is due to the popularity of the event, which sees hundreds of men walking a 12km route that starts and finishes at Plymouth Albion RFC. The sponsored walk through the city’s streets and along the waterfront takes in sights such as Plymouth Hoe and the Barbican. Many of the men walk in memory of loved ones no longer with them, who will never be forgotten.

Sponsored by local company Jem Scaffolding Limited, Men’s Day Out is renowned for being a day of fun and banter. Those taking part will enjoy a pasty and a beer as well as a not-to-be-missed clash between the home team and Taunton Titans.

Registration for the event is £35. This covers logistical costs including a t-shirt, pasty, beer and entry to the rugby match.

“We could not do what we do as well as we do it without the support of the big-hearted community around us”

Nina Wearne, Partnerships Manager at St Luke’s, said: “Whether you take part in Men’s Day Out as a personal challenge or to celebrate the life of someone special, and whether you do it for the first time or as an event you enjoy every year, what matters is just that you walk.

“While St Luke’s gives specialist end of life care, free of charge to patients, this does not come cheap to our charity. We could not do what we do as well as we do it without the support of the big-hearted community around us. Being part of Men’s Day Out is a fantastic way to have loads of fun while making an important difference to local families who would otherwise miss out on the specialist care and support they need.”

Sign up for Men’s Day Out by clicking here.

St Luke's 40th Anniversary date.

On 25 January 2022, it will be the St Luke’s 40th anniversary. A whole 40 years since we welcomed our first patients. Our charity heralded the arrival of a completely new concept for the city – specialist care for terminally ill people as in-patients in a home-from-home environment, rather than in hospital, to ensure their comfort and dignity at the end of their lives. From this, grew the St Luke’s of today, looking after the majority of patients at home and at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust, with only those with the most complex symptoms needing admission to Turnchapel.

What has not changed since its beginnings though, is our need to rely on the community to keep providing our specialist services at no cost. That’s why, as well as reflecting on four decades of compassionate care, we are using our 40th anniversary to express heartfelt thanks to all our supporters for their support.

“Quite simply though, we would never have come into existence – let alone still be helping local families four decades on – without the unstinting support we receive from the community around us.” – Current CEO, Steve Statham

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