A hospice covering South Cumbria and North Lancashire is encouraging people to remember and honour loved ones this Christmas as part of the annual Light up a Life campaign.
Every Christmas, the trees in the gardens at Lancaster’s St John’s Hospice shine brightly with warm memories of the special people loved and missed as hundreds of people dedicate hundreds of lights to them over the festive period.
This year, St John’s will be holding two Light Up A Life services in Morecambe and Kendal on Friday 30th November and Monday 10th December respectively.
The services not only offer a chance for the local community to come together in one place for a special Christmas service, they are also a much valued opportunity for people to remember, honour, and share stories about their loved ones.
The Light up a Life services couldn’t go ahead without the support of kind-hearted volunteers who give up their time to help out. One such person is Sandra Keeling from Garstang who will be speaking at the service at Morecambe’s Winter Gardens on Friday 30th November.
Sandra’s husband Gordon passed away in St John’s Hospice in May 2017. After seeing the care he received from everyone associated with the hospice, she knew she wanted to come back to volunteer and now helps out in the Courtyard Café each week.
She said: “This will be my first time at one of St John’s Light up a Life services. I automatically said yes without giving it a thought when I was asked to say a few words… I might need a couple of sprays of rescue remedy before I start but I’m sure I’ll be fine! The most important thing is to be able to tell people about Gordon.
“Thanks to St John’s’, Gordon’s last days were in wonderful surroundings and were pain free. We were able to stay with him around the clock and, in one sense it was lovely as he was so peaceful. Two days before he died, he was laughing with the doctor about the Grand Prix and whether Lewis Hamilton would get his form back… he’ll be pleased that he did.
“Before Gordon’s illness, we didn’t know anything about St John’s but our whole family was very quickly welcomed into their family and their care. There is truly no better place for love and support for your loved one, your family, and yourself than St John’s Hospice.”
After Gordon passed away, Sandra discovered some poems he had written for her whilst he had been in the hospice. She intends to read one at the Light up a Life service in the hope it will bring comfort and happiness to those who have also lost someone.
“I cried my eyes out when I found the poems but now they make me smile as they remind me that he hadn’t lost any of his wonderful humour and realism”, she said. “I am lucky that I feel close to him wherever I am. He wanted me to live a full and happy life and not hide my feelings. Yes, we’re grieving but we have to go on living too.”
Light up a Life services are open to everyone – whether or not they have experienced first hand the dedicated care provided by St John’s Hospice – and to all faiths. People who have chosen to dedicate a light on one of the hospice trees in memory of a loved one will receive a card bearing their chosen family or friend’s name. Their name will also be entered into the St John’s Book of Remembrance, which can be viewed online in the New Year.
Light up a Life is one of the most important events in the hospice calendar and is a wonderful celebration of remembrance for those people whose presence added light, love, and richness to others’ lives.
The festive season, despite being one of joy, can often intensify feelings of loss and loneliness for those who have lost beloved family or friends. Light up a Life brings people together and provides valuable support and companionship.
The first service will be held at Morecambe’s Winter Gardens from 7pm this Friday 30th November and the second service will be at Kendal Parish Church on Monday 10th December from 6.30pm.
For more information on the Light up a Life services and to dedicate a light to your loved one during the festive period, visit www.sjhospice.org.uk/lightupalife.