Another beautiful sunny day and a great start to the morning! Before heading for West St Leonards I called at St Michael’s Hospice where Perdita Chamberlain greeted me and I met Jo Pinder, Inpatient Unit Nursing Manager, Penny Jones,Director of Nursing, Clair Bexhall, Inpatient Unit Team Leader and Rebecca Futrall, Fundraising Team Manager. Thank you to Kirsty Brown for taking our photo.
St Michael’s provides hospice care and support for patients and their families within Hastings and Rother through its 24-bed inpatient unit, its wellbeing service and its hospice at home service. Two-thirds of its patients are cared for at home. The cost of running the hospice is over £6 million a year, 31% of which is provided by the NHS meaning the hospice must raise over £12,000 per day from voluntary sources….. not easy these days.
From here I called into the Community Nursing hub of Demelza Hospice Care for Children in St Leonards where Donna Mole – Care Team Leader, and Rachel Macloed – Trainee Nursing Associate, greeted me. Demelza offers a community hospice at home service for children and young people up to the age of 18, from this hub, providing therapies, respite and end of life care across East Sussex. Its hospices in Sittingbourne and Eltham have a combined 15 beds and cover wider catchment areas in Kent and south east London. It costs approximately £11 million to provide these services – 13% of which comes from Government.
It felt good to reaffirm why I was doing this walk and I set off with an added zing from West St Leonards station. A few of us did this walk last year on the Walk The Hospice Trail day and I was puzzled that there were parts I remembered and parts that felt completely new to me. This was probably because I was so busy talking that I wasn’t taking in my surroundings!
Today the sky was clear aside from a few faint mare’s tails and noticeably there were about three jet trails – the most I’ve seen at one time since March! The Trail led me along a lovely woodland path where dappled sun filtered through the leafy canopy and then out into the Combe Valley Countryside Park.
I did remember this from last year – a heavenly combination of open water, ditches, grassland and scrub.
It reminded me of childhood holidays in Ireland when we spent many hot sunny days such as this ‘helping’ the grown ups who were cutting and harvesting turf in the peat bog. Happy memories….. and I felt happy now, connected with the natural beauty of my surroundings.
The trail runs alongside a stream, the Combe Haven, and it really is a haven for flora and fauna, like this peacock butterfly, and a nationally important population of dragonflies.
The trail took me under the A2690 Hastings to Bexhill Combe Valley Way; along part of the 1066 Countryside Walk and on to Crowhurst. At the stile by Grandilly Cottage I inhaled the heady perfume of honeysuckle which spilled profusely over its wall and only wished I could capture its scent in the photo I took.
I continued across a couple of fields with St George’s church in view and onto Forewood Lane where this walk finishes.
The West St Leonards to Crowhurst section of the trail was sponsored by Angela and Jim Sellick to celebrate the remarkable work done by St Michael’s Hospice in Hastings where Jim was a Trustee for over 25 years.