100’s Attend Light up a Life Service to remember loved ones

  • 7 December 2023

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Dark paper stars with words 'Light up a Life' hanging from the branches of white Christmas tree

Light up a Life 2023 took place on Sunday 3 December, welcoming several hundred people to the home of the Arthur Rank Hospice in Shelford Bottom. As darkness fell and the rain briefly petered away, the beautifully moving service allowed family members, friends, patients, volunteers, colleagues and supporters to take time to remember those they love.

The focus of this year’s event was about coming together as a community and not feeling alone in grief. For us to remember that so many people around us have lost someone they love and have at some point felt the same pain that we may be feeling. Sharon Allen referenced the poignant words of Helen Keller in her foreword in this year’s Commemorative Booklet, saying:

“We bereaved are not alone. We belong to the largest company in all the world – the company of those who have known suffering.”

People standing in darkness, with lights of a massive Christmas tree on.
Light up a Life offered people a peaceful place to gather to remember their loved-ones

The service was led by the Hospice’s Chaplaincy team who included a selection of beautiful readings and poems, and the Bishop of Huntingdon also took to the stage to lead on the reflection and thanksgiving before the lights of the car park were turned off and the beautiful tree was adorned with twinkly lights – each reflecting the loved ones we were remembering. There was then a minute’s silence – a humbling moment of quiet sadness, but also one of love and gratitude.

Along with the readings and poems, and the gentle words of kindness and support, we were also joined by Vocal Remix Choir who performed a stunning rendition of ‘Lay Me Down’ by Sam Smith, and also the Cambridge Citadel of The Salvation Army Band who played O’ Come All Ye Faithful during the service, along with a number of carols before and after.

Choir outside of the hospice building. Blue and purple lights on the background.

Salvation Army band playing in an Arthur Rank Hospice gazebo

As the service ended, guests were invited into the warm Hospice where they we able to have a hot drink and mince pie or biscuit, buy Christmas cards and puddings, and take a look at the hundreds of stars that were hung on a special tree of remembrance.

The Light up a Life campaign raises money to help fund vital front-line care for people living with an advanced serious illness or other life-limiting condition, and those who need end-of-life care, in Cambridgeshire. Donations are welcome until Friday 5 January 2023 at arhc.org.uk/lual. Until the twelfth night, the lights on the tree will shine out into the darkness, and the stars filled with the names of cherished loved ones will remain inside the hospice for all to see.

Arthur Rank Hospice Charity would like to thank: headline sponsor Redmayne Arnold & Harris; Irwin Mitchell who gave a generous donation towards the tree; Blueshed AV who provided the staging, sound and lighting; Event Sparx for providing the cables for the tree lights; The Co-op stores in Girton and Newnham who provided some of the mince pies free of charge, and our Executive Assistant’s son who got a generous staff discount on the rest; Vocal Remix Choir, as well as the Cambridge Citadel of The Salvation Army Band for their beautiful musical contributions on the evening; all the volunteers who helped make the event possible, particularly Chris Banks and Martin Harwood who dressed the tree in its stunning lights – something they have been doing for us for more than two decades.

A second Light up a Light service organised by the team at our Alan Hudson Day Treatment Centre, took place on Sunday 10 December, 4.30pm, at St Peter’s & St Paul’s Parish Church, Church Terrace, Wisbech.

Huge Christmas tree with lights on. Crowd in darkness in front of the tree.