Crowds gather to light up a life

Families, friends, hospice staff and volunteers came together for Light up a Life celebrations.

Hundreds of people gathered together to remember and celebrate their loved ones at a special John Taylor Hospice event in Erdington.

Families, friends, hospice staff and volunteers came together for the annual Light up a Life celebrations on Sunday 9 December at Hollyfields Centre.

The event was opened by hospice CEO Penny Venables and featured readings by staff and a personal reflection from Pete Hall – whose partner Wendy received care from the hospice.

Hundreds of twinkling lights adorning a Christmas tree were lit up as people stood side by side for a moment of silence to reflect upon cherished memories. Light up a Life stars – each one dedicated to a loved one – were placed on the tree as crowds listened to beautiful performances by Vivat! choir. 

The names of people being remembered were displayed in a Book of Lights on show at the event – and this book will also be available to view over the festive season in the hospice reception.

For the Jones family, Light up a Life was a special event as it was taking place just a year after the death of their sister and aunt Sandra Read.

Coming together at the event were Sandra’s sister June Jones, Sandra’s nephew Adam Jones, Adam’s wife Kelly and their two children, ten-year-old Chloe and six-year-old Jessica.

June said: “My sister died at the hospice on 8 December 2017. The hospice was brilliant, really good, I can’t praise it highly enough. It was Sandra’s husband who told us about Light up a Life and we wanted to come and see the tree.”

Sisters Kim Sheridan and Karen Thewlis and Karen’s husband Mick were at Light up a Life remembering friends and family who had died over recent years.

The family, from Erdington, have become strong supporters of John Taylor after hospice teams have cared for their loved ones.

“We’re here to remember lots of people,” said Karen. “There’s my mum Maud Sheridan who died in 2016. She wasn’t cared for by the hospice teams but our uncle, Owen Sheridan, was cared for by Hospice at Home this year. Mick’s mum Bridie Thewlis died at the hospice in 1998 and then his dad’s partner Josie Gammon was in the hospice in 2016.

“This is our first time at Light up a Life. We’re here just to remember all of those people and we try to support John Taylor Hospice as much as we can.”

Donations made with Light up a Life dedications will help the hospice to raise the funds needed to continue supporting hundreds of local people every day.

Community and Events Fundraising Manager Emily Boate said: “It was wonderful to see so many people at this year’s Light up a Life and we’re extremely grateful to everyone who joined us for this very special occasion. As families, friends, neighbours or strangers, we hope you found some comfort from one another.”

Thank you to our generous sponsors Wilko at the Fort, Gardensite and the Erdington and Kingstanding branches of The Co-operative Funeralcare. Thank you also to our hosts at Hollyfields Centre, to Vivat! choir for their wonderful performances and all of our readers and volunteers.

If you were part of this year’s Light up a Life celebrations and would like to share any thoughts or feedback about the campaign or the event then please contact Emily Boate in the Fundraising Team at [email protected] or by calling 0121 728 6739. 

To view more photographs from the event please visit the John Taylor Hospice Facebook page.

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What our patients think

“I’d have really struggled without them”

“They’ve been ever so good to me and that’s why I wanted to fundraise and do something to help just like they’ve helped me.”

Philomena Sharpe

“The impact they had will never be forgotten”

“The community nurses were so helpful and they’re lovely people. They put my mind at rest and it’s such a comfort to know you’re not on your own.”

Jackie Day

“An angel sent into my life”

“I can’t thank Angie (patient and family support worker) enough for everything she’s done for us. She’s so reliable and professional – a wonderful person. She took away all these worries and was there for me in my time of need.”

Patricia Smith-Evans

“I’ve really enjoyed it”

“The FAB Programme has helped me to get fitter and my walking is better. Everyone is really nice at the hospice, they’re friendly and they’re good company. I’d recommend it to anyone who is in a similar situation to me.”

Don Bell

Please click here to donate for Light up a Life