This year Pilgrims Hospices celebrate 40 years of end-of-life care for the people of east Kent.
The first hospice opened in Canterbury in June 1982, followed by Thanet in 1992, celebrating its 30th anniversary year, and Ashford in 2001, celebrating its 21st year.
The hospices were the vision of local nurse Ann Robertson, the founder and now Pilgrims lifetime President. Ann wanted to make a difference for the people in her community facing terminal illness. Thanks to her devotion, and the help of countless others, today we have almost 200 clinical staff. Together they support thousands of people each year.
On Wednesday 13th July, Pilgrims staff and volunteers gathered at the Thanet hospice on Ramsgate Road, Margate, to celebrate 30 years of caring on the wards and within their community. Not only to share in the anniversary celebration but to enjoy the welcome return of the staff, volunteers and supporters thank you event, that hasn’t been held for two years due to COVID.
Ann, 87, was unable to attend on the day, but sent a message of support to everyone and said: “It is a great privilege to have worked with so many forward thinking and talented individuals over the years; in the early years we faced the day to day head-ache of meeting our financial needs. As the years have passed, we’ve established relationships not only with our generous public but with the business community, who help us to raise the profile of our charity and engage with the wider community.
“We remain the welcoming face that will guide people through some of the most difficult times, the support of the community fills our hearts with great joy as we continue our journey to help even more people each year.”
The staff at the hospices are truly community heroes, with more than 2,500 people within their care each year. Over the years, Pilgrims has pioneered ground-breaking research in palliative care, embraced innovative, cutting-edge technology to improve the quality of life for patients, and delivers education and training across east Kent for many other health and social care providers.
Pilgrims continues to grow from strength to strength, and in order to provide the much needed care, our clinical staff are supported by an award winning charity fundraising team, an established network of profitable retail shops, a successful local lottery, and a wealth of talents through its invaluable volunteer workforce.
From the very beginning patients have been at the heart of everything Pilgrims do, and the charity will continue to grow and develop with the help of the community.
Helen Bennett, Pilgrims Chief Executive added: “The wellbeing of my teams across the sites of Pilgrims Hospices is as important today as ever. We’ve experienced challenging times over the years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has added to the daily workload for everyone, I have seen staff exceed all expectations to ensure patients are kept at the very heart of all that we do.
“Thank you to all staff, volunteers and supporters from across the hospice sites, we can celebrate in the knowledge that everyone plays an important role within the Pilgrims family.
Karen Warden, current Chair of the Board of Trustees, who joined the Board in 2018 also shared the event with Pilgrims staff and volunteers, she added: “It gives me enormous pleasure, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, to be able to thank everyone who gives so freely of their time and energy to support all that we do. This event, is not only to celebrate our years of expert care but to acknowledge and celebrate the invaluable and unwavering commitment our staff and friends make to Pilgrims Hospices.
“Staff, volunteers, fundraisers, donors, businesses and sponsors all play a part in the delivery and dedication of outstanding care and specialist support to patients and their families, friends and carers. Pilgrims is often likened to a family and I can think of no better analogy.
“Here’s to many more years of Pilgrims care!”
If you or someone you know is coping with a life-limiting illness and you think you may benefit from Pilgrims support, talk to your GP or Healthcare Professional about the options or visit www.pilgrimshospices.org