A beautiful way to remember my mum at Christmas
I'm looking forward to Christmas this year as much as always. But for me and for many other people, Christmas is tinged with sadness and longing for the loved ones we have lost.
It's more than two years now since my mother passed away at the age of 82. I'll never forget the last time I saw her, lying in bed.
Dedicated stars from our Light Up a Life Garden 2015
Mum squeezed my hand as I did my best to tell her how much I loved her and how thankful I was for all she had done for me. As I got up to let her sleep I blew her a last, silent kiss.
At that precise moment she opened her eyes, smiled, and incredibly, found the strength to blow one back. A few hours later her life flickered out.
There is always a special place in my heart for Mum, especially at Christmas when all those happy memories of Childhood Christmases come flooding back. I know it's the same for other people who have lost loved ones. That's why I think it is wonderful that Saint Francis Hospice holds Light Up a Life in the weeks before Christmas.
If you are going to be thinking of someone you have lost this Christmas, I warmly invite you to celebrate their memory in this moving and heart-warming way.
The idea behind Light Up a Life is simple. As we approach the festive season, hundreds of stars - last year there were over 1,000 - are hung around the beautiful grounds of the hospice, backlit by twinkling lights and each representing the memory of someone special. Your loved one can be remembered whether or not they were treated by the hospice and you are always welcome to visit and view the stars.
There will also be church services dedicated to these special people in December and an incredible outdoor event with music, mince pies and mulled wine - all ending in the lighting of a Christmas tree. Your loved one will also be included in our Book of Remembrance.
Candles are lit at our church services to remember our loved ones
To have your very own Light Up a Life star included in our gardens, i'm asking you to make a donation. And the really magical thing is that the money we raise will go to support the vital, caring work of Saint Francis Hospice, your local hospice.
Your donation will help to ensure that people with life-limiting illnesses can enjoy excellent specialist care to ease their pain and make them more comfortable. It will help us fill every day of our patients' lives with happiness and contentment. And it will help provide emotional and practical support for families at a very difficult time.
Most of all it will help Saint Francis Hospice to continue being the warm and welcoming place that it is. Our staff make it so easy for families to be with their loved ones in their final days. Sons, daughters, wives and husbands can show their love and say their goodbyes, just as I was able to do for my dear mum. That's so precious and important.
Richard Madeley took his time to speak to our nursing staff and patients
Please join me in dedicating a star to your loved one this Christmas and attending one of our special remembrance events. It will lift your heart and raise your spirits. And, perhaps best of all, the money you donate will help countless patients and families, and truly light up their lives.
To dedicate a star choose from one of the options below...