Pilgrims Hospices annual summer Sunflower Memories Appeal is a beautiful way to celebrate the life of someone you love. With support from dedicated Pilgrims volunteers and generous local businesses who make invaluable contributions to the success of the much-loved appeal; the hospices hope to raise even more funds for end of life care locally.
In return for a donation of choice, the public can dedicate a beautiful sunflower plaque to be planted in the hospice’s gardens over the summer to remember someone special to them.
A special Sunflower Memories event will take place in the garden at the Thanet hospice on July 27 between 2pm-4pm.
Sarah Gregory is just one of the Thanet residents who will choose to attend the Sunflower Memories event.
Her mum Shirley Sharp was cared for at the Thanet Hospice in 2014.
She said: “My mum was a very sociable person who lived for her family. She loved her 4 grandchildren beyond measure, always the fun grandma who told stories and showered them with affection and home-cooked food. By profession, she was a cook at St Bartholomews School in Sittingbourne where she used to cook old classics like bacon roly poly and gypsy tart!
“Mum enjoyed visiting the day hospice, chatting with others going through the same experiences as her, and creating special memory boxes for the grandchildren. She always felt completely safe when she was at Pilgrims and became visibly more relaxed.
“When mum was admitted to Pilgrims as an inpatient, we regularly visited her along with the children, who always felt comfortable going in to see her. They would usually say hello to grandma then go off to look for the hospice cat, Claudia, whilst we took mum out into the beautiful hospice gardens. The hospice was always such an open and honest place for us all to be and no-one ever felt scared or fearful; all the staff managed to put you at ease, from the volunteers on reception, to the nurses and doctors. Even the food was delicious and the chef would often make whatever mum requested.
“Pilgrims gave mum a purpose to her life near the end; she would have gone to the day centre every day if she could. As soon as you walk in the door of the hospice it feels like you are encompassed by a big invisible hug and that even the worst scenarios could be dealt with.
“Although we will never be able to repay the hospice for the amazing care they gave us all as a family, I always think of donating to the hospice for Sunflower Memories as an alternative to being able to buy mum presents, whilst giving something back so that Pilgrims can be there for more people that need them.
“Sunflower Memories is such a lovely event to attend as a family, an opportunity to remember mum together, and for the children who really enjoy seeing mum’s name on the sunflower plaque in the hospice gardens. The day provides us with a special time to think about mum at a place that brings us all comfort, and we’re looking forward to dedicating our plaque again this year.”
Lyndsey Campion’s Sunflower Memories story is about her dad, Ian Davies, who was cared for at the Thanet Hospice in 2016
“My lovely dad was an inspirational, wonderfully funny man. He had a great fun spirit and was loved by all, none more so than his 13 grandchildren who adored their “silly, playful grandad”. His family were the most important thing in the world to him and he always had such a special bond with my sister’s Jo and Kirsty too. He was truly a free spirit, would often go off wandering for days at a time and never worried about a thing; even when he was ill he still put everyone else first.
“You could usually find dad doing his carpentry work, fishing with my brother, or helping and looking after people; he even made friends with the local homeless and would often invite them home for something to eat! He had such a kind and generous heart, and always shared his winnings out with his children whenever he won on his beloved horses.
“When my dad first became ill with lung cancer in 2012, he was told that he’d only have a few months, but with his typical determination he would live life to the full for another 4 years.
“Dad first experienced the hospice as a day patient, attending craft sessions and lunches, and enjoyed many a good roast dinner there! He loved making friends with the volunteers and other patients at Pilgrims, which gave him a safe place to talk about any worries he had.
“Dad was a big Arsenal supporter and when he became very ill, my sister Jo managed to put out a Facebook post which resulted in Ian Wright coming down to visit him, which caused quite a stir amongst everyone that saw him on his way to see my Dad!
“The light in Dad’s life in his last years was the support that the Thanet Pilgrims Hospice gave him – he always described it as his “happy place”. The last time he was brought into the hospice before he passed away in 2016, he looked around and simply said “what a lovely day it is”, as he felt so comfortable in these familiar surroundings.
“We were all really nervous when Dad started visiting the hospice, but it’s such a bright and positive space, and everyone is so caring, always going the extra mile for those in their care.
“I donated to the Sunflower Memories event last year and am looking forward to attending this year. It’s important for us to feel that we are giving back to the hospice and contributing towards the care of others. As a family, the in-memory events at Pilgrims give us a chance to return to the hospice where we feel close to dad, whilst being amongst others that have gone through the same experience and emotions. We will never forget the care and love he received throughout his illness and will be forever grateful that dad had this special place in his life.”
If you’d like to dedicate a sunflower in memory of a loved one visit pilgrimshospices.org/sunflowers or contact Sara on 01227 782 066.