More than 600 local people came together to remember someone special at St Catherine’s Hospice annual Tree of Light service at the K2 Leisure Centre, Crawley, on Sunday 4 December.
The service, open to all, offered members of the local community a chance to remember loved ones at the start of the festive season.
The non-religious service gave people of all ages the chance to reflect and acknowledge the much loved family members and friends who could not be with them. The service included carols, and readings and everyone was invited to write a personalised message on special silver stars before hanging them on one of the twinkling trees in return for a donation to St Catherine’s. There was also a Book of Remembrance featuring the names of loved ones being remembered available for people to look at.
Readers at the service included Jo Cater, who shared her experience of the care that her mother-in-law, Evelyn received from St Catherine’s, and the way her whole family was supported by the hospice. St Catherine’s Deputy Ward Manager, Mary Price, and Community Staff Nurse, Michael O’Connor carried the book of remembrance forward, and as the moving event came to a close, the Surrey Advanced Brass band played people out as they gathered to enjoy hot drinks and mince pies.
Christmas is often a time when people come together with family and friends, but for many people who have lost someone close, it can also be a time of sadness. St Catherine’s recognises this and is here to help. Bereaved friends and relatives are helped by the hospice and expert support is also given to people in the wider community through local bereavement groups in Crawley, Oxted and Dorking.
These groups are open to all, regardless of whether they have a connection to St Catherine’s.
Every year, St Catherine’s needs to raise £6 million in voluntary income to fund all its running costs. Donations from the Tree of Light service help towards funding crucial end of life care for local people, which includes community nursing services, day hospice sessions and inpatient care.
Reverend Lisa Rainer, Spiritual Care Lead at St Catherine’s, said: “It was a privilege to be a part of the Tree of Light service and we hope it provided comfort to those who attended to remember their loved ones.”