550 local people attended St Catherine’s Hospice annual Tree of Light service at the K2 Leisure Centre, Crawley, on Sunday 6 December. The service was a chance for members of the community to come together to remember loved ones and take time to reflect at the start of the festive season.
The non-denominational service included carols, readings and the opportunity to hang a star on the Tree of Light and view the Book of Remembrance featuring the names of love ones being remembered. People of all ages wrote personalised messages on a special star, before hanging it on the twinkling tree, in return for a donation to the hospice.
Open to everyone, regardless of when they have lost someone or if their loved one had been a patient of St Catherine’s, the Tree of Light is just one way St Catherine’s support all those facing death and bereavement within the local community.
Carols were sung by inChoir, an adult community choir led by Karen O’Connor, and readers included Gavin Stephens, who shared his personal experience of the care and support his wife, Sarah, received whilst under the care of St Catherine’s.
Christmas can be a special time of year for families and friends, but for many people who have lost someone close, it can also be a time of sadness. The hospice recognises this and is here to help. Patients’ bereaved friends and relatives are helped by St Catherine’s and the hospice also provides wider community support 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 to fund all their running costs. All donations from the Tree of Light service will help towards funding crucial end of life care for local people, which includes Community Nursing services, Day Hospice sessions and Inpatient care at the hospice’s main site in Malthouse Road.
Reverend Lisa Rainer, Spiritual Care Lead at St Catherine’s, said: “It was such a privilege to be a part of the Tree of Light service at K2 and to see so many local people coming together to remember their loved ones. Christmas can be a really difficult time for anyone suffering bereavement, but we hope the service provided some comfort to everyone who attended. St Catherine’s doesn’t stop caring for people after bereavement. We’re always there to support the community.”