Light Up a Life in memory of your loved ones this Christmas

Havens Hospices is holding its annual ‘Light Up a Life’ campaign to remember loved ones as Christmas approaches.

The Essex-wide charity’s Light Up a Life gives people the chance to dedicate a light in memory of someone close to them on its Christmas Trees at the two hospices, Little Havens in Thundersley and the newly built Fair Havens in Southend.

Not only does a donation dedicate a symbolic light, but the charity will also send a personalised remembrance card, a small gift as a token of gratitude and if you dedicate a light by Thursday 19th November the charity will place your loved ones names into a special feature within the Echo newspaper on Friday 11th December as well as include the loved one’s names in Books of Remembrance.

This year the Books of Remembrance will be available at Fair Havens, Southend Crematorium and Canvey Methodist Church.

Usually the hospice holds special remembrance services across Essex but this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic the charity made the difficult decision to not hold any public services this year.

Instead they will be holding a special online Light Up a Life service on Friday 11th December at 7pm on their Facebook page @HavensHospices. People do not need to pre-book, and if they are unable to view the service on the charity’s Facebook page then they can visit the charity’s YouTube channel instead from 8pm that evening at www.youtube.com/havenshospices.

The charity’s Light up a Life campaign is especially poignant this year with an unprecedented number of people in the community facing bereavement because of Coronavirus.

Sharon Davies, Senior Marketing Officer and organiser of the campaign at Havens Hospices, said: “As the festive season approaches, Havens Hospices understands that it can sometimes be a difficult time, particularly for anyone who is experiencing bereavement. After an unprecedented and difficult year for so many because of the pandemic, this is probably the most important Light up a Life campaign in our 37 year history, but it will look quite different to previous events.

“Hospices understand the importance of having support when a loved one dies, so this year Havens Hospices wants to bring together our community to grieve and remember our family and friends.

“Light Up a Life is a chance for you to remember your loved one in a special way. When our Christmas trees are lit up, they are a beautiful and touching reminder of special people who are no longer with us, with every sparkle representing the life of someone who is greatly missed and fondly remembered.

“You don’t have to have experienced our hospice care to dedicate a light and anyone can join the virtual service. You’ll be coming together with others in the community remembering loved ones while ‘Making every day count’ for everyone we care for in the future.

“We understand that you may not be able to donate as much, or anything right now as your personal circumstances may have changed but if you are able to make a donation today, or pledge to give a yearly gift for Light up a Life, every pound pledged is having an immediate impact on our frontline, helping those who are in need of hospice care.”

Havens Hospices provides palliative nursing and supportive care to adults, young people and children living with complex or incurable conditions across Essex.

Their specialist Care Teams can support them and their family throughout illness, death and bereavement, in the comfort of their own home or at their hospices. They focus on their quality of life, caring for individual physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs, ‘Making every day count’.

This year Emily Ray, 29, will be dedicating lights on our hospice Christmas Trees as part of our Light Up a Life appeal in memory of her Mother, Grandfather and Uncle.

Both Emily’s mother Susan, 57, and Granddad Dennis, 83, from Rayleigh, were both cared for at the end of their lives at Fair Havens. By taking part in our Light Up a Life campaign Emily feels like it is the perfect way to honour their memory together at a special time of year: “Christmas was always my family’s favourite time of the year together, so lighting up lights with Fair Havens is the perfect way to honour their memory. I consider Havens Hospices an extended part of my family as a result of the extraordinary care and kindness they showed my family towards the end of their lives. It brings me great comfort over the tough Christmas period to know that they are together as lights shining at the hospice – a perfect way to remember my wonderful mum, grandad and uncle.”

Susan, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2016, spending the last two weeks of her life at Fair Havens in Westcliff where she died in February 2017.

Emily said: “Originally we all thought she was just going in to have her medication sorted because she was in so much pain, but after a few days it became apparent that she was declining quite rapidly. The hospice nurses knew of mum’s wish to die at home and tried their best to make that happen, but in the end she was just too fragile to move. They moved her into one of the larger rooms where she could see the sea out of the window and where I had more room to stay with her overnight.”

Dennis was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007. He spent a week in Fair Havens Hospice in 2008 to get his medication assessed and his symptoms under control. He passed away at home in February 2009.

To Light up a Life in memory of a loved one today, call Sharon on 01702 220310 / 315 or visit www.havenshospices.org.uk/lual

Published 28th October 2020

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A photo of Emily and her mother Susan.