During the evening, hundreds of Christmas tree lights – representing hundreds of wonderful people no longer with us – will be lit up, as hospice staff, volunteers, supporters, friends and family join together with others like them to remember their loved ones.
The evening will start with music from Ely City Military Band and Sing! Choirs (Ely, Newmarket and Cambridge), before the Hospice’s Chaplain Keith Morrison and the Bishop of Ely, Right Revd Stephen Conway oversee a service which includes readings, poems, songs and carols. There will be a moment of silence and reflection during proceedings for everyone to hold their loved ones in their memories and hearts, before the lights adorning the 25 foot Christmas tree are switched on. The lights will then shine out throughout the festive period. As those who have experienced its care will know, the hospice embraces everyone and welcomes people of all faiths and no faith, with the special evening being open to anyone who wishes to remember someone they hold dear, regardless of whether they were cared for by Arthur Rank Hospice.
Over 1100 dedications have been made within the Light up a Life Commemorative Booklet and, whilst the hospice is now unable to add further names to the booklet, you are welcome to register to attend on the evening or make a donation at http://www.arhc.org.uk/light-up-a-life.asp, or visit the Arthur Rank Hospice before the New Year to see the tree in place.
Hundreds of stars have already been returned to the Hospice, with moving dedications written on the back of them to loved ones and wishes of support for patients, their families and Hospice staff. Alongside the Light up a Life Christmas tree lights at the front of the Hospice, these stars of love cascade over the Bistro in the heart of the Hospice– which is open to the public - until twelfth night 5 January 2018.
Specialist Palliative Care Nurse Sheila Roberts, who worked within the Arthur Rank Community team for 32 years before retiring earlier this year, adds: “There is always a special place in my heart for all of my patients, and Christmas can be a particularly difficult time for some. That’s why I think it is wonderful that we offer a moment of reflection and celebration, together with others like you, at Light up a Life. ”
For many people, like Jennifer Cater who lost her daughter Debra on 23 July, the evening will be a chance to pause, remember and be close them: “She was a one-off, she was loved so much and we miss her terribly. My darling Debra. […] in her words ‘Hey you out there, I’m only ever a whisper away’.”
This will be the second Light Up a Life at the Hospice’s Shelford Bottom home, after the first took place last year just weeks after doors opened to patients at the state-of-the-art-facility. A video of the lights being lit at the service last year can be viewed on the Hospice’s YouTube channel.
Donations from the personal dedications will help the hospice in raising the £7.45 million which needs to be secured every year to provide essential care for people living in our county with a life-limiting illness. Thanks to the invaluable support of the local community, thousands of people are cared for each year free of charge at the Hospice’s home in Shelford Bottom, the day treatment centre in Wisbech and in people’s own homes across Cambridgeshire through the Arthur Rank Community team.
Despite the fact that it is now open and has been delivering its full remit of holistic care for 12 months, a further £2 million remains to be raised towards the Hospice’s £10.6 million facility at Shelford Bottom. To find out more about these efforts please visit arhc.org.uk/the-new-hospice.asp or call the fundraising office on 01223 675888.