Special lights are shining bright in memory of lost loved ones in the gardens of Strathcarron Hospice as part of the charity’s Light up a Life appeal.
Friends and relatives recently gathered at the hospice for a poignant remembrance service where candles were lit and personal messages were placed on a Christmas tree.
The event also featured a carol by The Strathcarron Singers while the hospice’s chaplain, Stuart Murdoch, delivered a reading.
Guests were then treated to a range of festive refreshments and mince pies in the daycare lounge.
To view a gallery of pictures from the Light up a Life event click HERE
Fundraising manager Jackie Johnson explained that the Light up a Life appeal celebrates the lives of those who have passed away but continue to live on in people’s hearts.
“At this time of the year our thoughts often turn to those we have loved and lost and who are no longer with us,” she said.
“Of course, our loved ones remain in our hearts every day of the year but Christmas is particularly poignant as we reflect on memories of years gone by.
“Our senses seem to be heightened whether it be by listening to a special piece of music or seeing the excitement in the faces of children.
“It is a time for both making new memories and sharing old ones.
“Here at Strathcarron Hospice we welcome the public every year to our Light Up a Life service which takes place in our stunning grounds.
“The Christmas tree is lit followed by a short service and everyone is given the opportunity to leave a message on the tree, in memory of a loved one.
“For many families this will be the first return visit to the Hospice since the death of a treasured loved one in our care.
“It is an honour and privilege for us to care for people living with, and dying from, a terminal illness.
“This care and support extends to family and friends and it is our pleasure to welcome them back at this most sensitive of times.”
Strathcarron Hospice will remain open for patients and families throughout the festive season and many of the staff and volunteers will sacrifice spending time with their own loved ones to make sure all patients and families are given the very best of care, love and support.
For people who are not an in-patient in the hospice, having made the choice to die in their own home, the Hospice@Home team will be there for them in a bid to keep patients and families together at Christmas, during the last weeks or days of life. Strathcarron provides care and support to over 1400 people offering a variety of services including a 24-bed inpatient unit, day care, Hospice@Home, community nurse specialists and a lymphoedema clinic.
As a charity, it relies on the goodwill of the communities it works with to support running costs.
“Over and above local authority funding, we spend £12,900 every 24 hours directly on specialist patient care,” Jackie said.
“In reality, from Christmas Eve until New Year’s Day this means we will spend £116,100 for those in our care over the holidays.”
Strathcarron Hospice chief executive Irene McKie said the Light up a Life appeal is just one of many initiatives organised by the charity, which was set up in 1981.
She added that there had been a “steady increase” in demand for services in the last decade and since 2015 the charity had seen a five per cent increase in admissions and a three per cent increase in bed occupancy.
“There has also been a continuing increase in new homecare patients and further demand for day care places,” she said.
“Working at 85 per cent occupancy in the in-patient unit, we routinely have a waiting list for admissions.
“The hospice has a reputation for excellence and this is crucial to everything we do. Our support from the communities we serve is predicated on their impression and experience of our care.
“Strathcarron will continue to benchmark its services and also strive to keep patients at the heart of everything we do: meeting their goals and priorities.
“We will continue to focus on the life in their days rather than days in their life.”
To make a donation to Strathcarron Hospice visit www.strathcarronhospice.net
All money received will be directly used by Strathcarron Hospice to care for local people living with a terminal illness, making every moment count for patients and their families this Christmas.