Record numbers gathered at St Catherine’s Hospice to remember loved ones at the start of the festive season.Advertisement
The charity’s Light Up A Life celebration and dedication evenings have been taking place every year since 1990, when people first came together to honour the memory of those who would be missing from their Christmas celebrations.
Since then the event has grown and now welcomes hundreds of people each year – all paying tribute to someone special.
This year, for the first time, the hospice hosted two lights switch-on and dedication ceremonies with the aim of welcoming more people than ever before.
The lights will now shine brightly in St Catherine’s Park throughout Christmas and into the New Year. Dedications – which are welcome in memory of anyone, not only those who have been cared for at the hospice – can still be made throughout the festive season, with all proceeds raised used to fund the charity’s specialised care for local people at Christmas and beyond.
Lorraine Charlesworth, Director of Community and Income, said: “Light Up A Life is a very special event for St Catherine’s and our community.
“Some people have been attending for many years, while others have lost someone more recently and were coming along for the first time. Whatever their circumstances, Light Up A Life is about bringing people together in a shared purpose, – taking some time ahead of the hectic festive season to remember those people we miss all year round, but especially at Christmas.
“It was wonderful to welcome so many faces old and new to this year’s dedication evenings – we are extremely grateful for their support and hope they found it a comforting and meaningful experience.”
Read more: This year’s Preston Santa Dash to take place at the Docks
Brian Tong was there with his family including daughter Savannah, six, to remember their mum and nanna Anne Tong, who was cared for at St Catherine’s two years ago.
He said: “This is the first year I have been able to make it and I’m really pleased to be part of such a special evening – it’s nice to see what’s going on and to get together to remember her.”
Soraya Weir was there with her family remembering her sister Louise McParland, who died in January at the age of just 41.
Soraya, who is looking forward to joining the hospice team as a volunteer on the in-patient unit in the coming weeks, said: “Tonight is about taking some time out which is dedicated to her – that’s really important for me, having some special time set aside just for her.
“I am really excited about joining St Catherine’s as a volunteer – it’s about keeping that connection with the hospice, which is something I find comforting. I am looking forward to giving something back for my sister.”
The names of all those being remembered are entered into the Light Up A Life book which is available to view online for the first time this year at the St Catherine’s website, where dedications can still be made. A Light Up A Life card is also sent to everyone who makes a dedication.