A Christmas message of thanks to our community by Mark Hawkins, Rowcroft CEO

Looking back on 2020, it’s been such a difficult and challenging year for us all. And yet – through the darkness of this pandemic – we have seen our community shine brighter than ever. Mark Hawkins, Rowcroft Hospice CEO, applauds and gives thanks to the incredible generosity of our local community – to all the hundreds of people who have given time, expertise, hard work and financial support to help us get through this pandemic and continue caring for our patients and families across South Devon.

“Time and again through this pandemic, when things got tough, our amazing South Devon community has been there for us, standing strong by our side,” says Mark. “People have stepped forward to lend a hand, stopping at nothing to ensure we can continue to deliver vital care to local people with life-limiting illnesses and their families. It has been one of the most challenging times that we have ever had to face, and yet, despite everything that has been thrown at us, with the support of our community, we have continued to care for our patients and their loved ones. When and wherever our patients needed us, we were there.

“Throughout the COVID crisis, our local community spirit has shone so clear and bright – not even a global pandemic could suppress it! Our wonderful community has shown such concern and compassion and have supported us in so many diverse ways – through donations, fundraising, volunteering, and through so many acts of kindness. Words are not enough to describe how eternally thankful I am.

“In response to our COVID Appeal, we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support, with messages coming from all parts of Devon and beyond. Messages that have kept our care teams’ spirits lifted as they battled bravely on the frontline, working around the clock to deliver the very best care to our patients and families, going above and beyond the call of duty, day after day.

“Our amazing community fundraisers have moved mountains to raise crucial funds to keep our care going. They have leapt into action with fundraising activities including walks, standup paddle boarding, virtual discos, head shaves, cake sales, rowing marathons and skydives. One devoted fundraiser, Neil Thomas, even walked from London’s Big Ben to Torquay’s ‘Little Ben’ to raise a staggering £28,000 for the hospice!

“People from across South Devon have been digging deep and giving in so many different ways including: hand-sewing face masks for our staff and volunteers; donating meals and special sweet treats for our care teams; playing the Rowcroft Lottery; shopping in our charity shops and with Rowcroft online; donating pre-loved clothing, furniture and other items for our shops; buying refreshments and meals from our cafes; making donations to our appeals … the list goes on and on.

“Our volunteers, as always, have been brilliant, and their unwavering devotion to the hospice through this pandemic has been remarkable. Giving their time, expertise and plenty of hard work, they have supported the hospice in so many important ways – from volunteering in our shops and cafes (when we could open) and in the hospice garden, to supporting patients and families in both the hospice and in the community. I am so grateful to all our incredible volunteers for their support.

“Over the last year, despite the challenges, we have continued to go that extra mile for our patients and families, and there are so many inspiring and moving stories that powerfully reflect how we’ve made a difference – by doing whatever it takes.

“Steph’s story illustrates this perfectly. Earlier in the pandemic, Rowcroft had the privilege of caring for Steph’s father, Martin. Due to COVID restrictions, Steph had been unable to visit her father in hospital, but with the help of Rowcroft’s Hospice at Home Team, Martin was able to transfer home from hospital to be cared for in his final days at home with his family by his side, as Steph explains:

“It meant everything to have my dad at home. To be able to see his face, hold his hand, give him a kiss and hear him call me princess one last time meant the whole world. They are memories that will stay with me forever. Sometimes I think back on it with a smile; other times it makes me cry. I cannot thank the Rowcroft Hospice at Home Team enough for giving me those final memories.”

“It is the words of people like Steph that make our work meaningful – that show that we truly do make a difference. Once again, I give thanks to our community for helping us achieve this.

“As the year draws to a close, and with a COVID vaccine now being rolled out across the UK, we look forward to brighter times ahead for 2021. In the meantime, I’d like to thank you for your support and wish you a safe, healthy and peaceful Christmas.”

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