Lights of love will be shining across Worcestershire from November as residents are invited to dedicate a light in memory of a loved one
St Richard’s Hospice will be holding five Lights of Love events around the county throughout November and December in the lead up to the festive season. They all follow a simple structure with readings, music and a time for quiet reflection.
The main event takes place at Worcester Cathedral at 7pm on Friday, 14th November which is usually attended by more than 1,000 people remembering loved ones. There will be a sign language interpreter at the service.
Following the service – where the RGS choir will sing – many of those attending walk to the St Richard’s Hospice Christmas Tree in St Andrew’s Spire where the dedicated Lights of Love will be switched on. The tree lights illuminate the dedicated names of loved ones which are written on boards around the Spire.
There will also be an afternoon service earlier in the day on Friday, 14th November in the Cathedral at 3pm led by the new canon Michael Brierley and featuring the choir from Kings Hawford school.
Anyone who has lost a loved one is welcome to dedicate a light and attend the moving services, not just those who have a connection with St Richard’s.
St Richard’s Hospice Senior Community Fundraiser Alison Parkes said: “The lighting of the tree is a lovely event. Last year lights were dedicated to over 2,500 names and the tree looked magnificent. We have already had hundreds of names dedicated this year and donations of over £21,000 so far towards our hospice care.”
She added, "These services are deeply appreciated by the hundreds of people there - many of whom are the families and friends of people who are, or who have been, cared for by St Richard's. These community gatherings – where people are united by their shared experience of missing someone dear – bring great comfort and support, through lighting a candle and taking time to reflect.”
Those attending the Cathedral services are asked to arrive half an hour before they begin.
For the first time this year there will also be a Lights of Love service taking place at Pershore Abbey on Thursday, 27th November at 2.30pm.
Lights of Love services will also be held at The Sacred Heart Church, Droitwich on Tuesday 25th November at 6pm with a choir from Dodderhill School and the St Richard’s Singers. There will be a service at The Great Malvern Priory on Tuesday, 2nd December at 6pm which includes a choir from Malvern St James school performing.
The names of loved ones will be displayed on boards surrounding the tree in St Andrew's Spire, Worcester and in a Books of Thanksgiving placed in Worcester Cathedral, The Priory in Malvern, Pershore Abbey and Droitwich Library throughout December.
Those who donate will also receive a special photo decoration that can be hung on the Christmas tree at home.
If you would like to make a dedication please go online to www.strichards.org.uk/lightsoflove or call the Fundraising Team on 01905 763963. If you wish, the chosen names will be printed in the Worcester News on Wednesday 24th December.
St Richard’s is grateful to the main event sponsor George Crump & Son Funeral Directors and to Worcester Cathedral, Leigh Sinton Farm & Nurseries and other local businesses for their support.
Jem Cooke, from Worcester, is one of those who is comforted by the Lights of Love services.
He said: “St Richard’s was a huge part of our lives when my dad, Dennis, was ill. The help and support they gave us was phenomenal. Dad spent a week in the hospice after an operation to remove a brain tumour. St Richard’s was so welcoming, like walking into your very own living room. But dad really wanted to get home before Christmas.
“Because dad was so ill, my step mum, Pat and myself took turns to sit with him overnight. At the drop of a hat, St Richard’s would send someone out to care for him at home and give us a bit of a rest. The level of compassion, love and concern they gave was just incredible. Nothing was ever too much trouble.
“It was a very hard time but I’m grateful that St Richard’s was so supportive of my whole family as well as my dad. We all needed their emotional help during that time.
“Lights of Love is a family event that helps us carry on dad’s memory. We feel connected with all the other people there, who are all going through the same experience as us. It’s such a beautiful ceremony. Walking down to the St Andrew’s Spire, my boys Jacob and Oliver can take time to light candles and put them in the ground by their grandad’s name. They talk about him for days afterwards.
“I hope others will join us and light a candle for those who they want to remember this year. And, if they are able, to support St Richard’s in caring for patients and families like ours over Christmas.”
St Richard’s Hospice provides free specialist palliative care for patients living with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses and supports their families. Each year the hospice team supports over 2,500 patients and family members in Worcestershire.
Patients are cared for in Day Hospice, the 17-bed In-patient Unit or in their own homes by a specialist professional team as well as many trained volunteers.
In the In-patient Unit, specialist staff are on hand 24 hours a day to manage patients’ symptoms and where, if appropriate, patients may spend the last few days of life in comfort and dignity. St Richard’s is an independent charity and is grateful for all donations to help it to continue its work.
For more information please visit www.strichards.org.uk