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Light up a Life


Could you donate to Light up a Life?

In return for a donation you can dedicate a personalised memory star, which will be hung in our beautiful gardens surrounded by twinkling tinsel and hundreds of other stars carrying dedications of love.



Light up a Life Night Sky
Would you like to dedicate a star to your loved one online? Our Light up a Life Night Sky shows the view from Saint Francis Hospice, across the hills to London. Be a part of Light up a Life and dedicate a star in memory of your loved one. You can make it personal by adding a photo and your own words. Then, their star will shine brightly in the sky for the whole festive period. 



Teresa's story

By supporting Light up a Life, you’ll be directly helping people like Teresa, who will be lighting up a life in memory of her husband, Rob this year.  He died last August after living with brain cancer for eight years. 


Teresa told us: "The staff here make it so easy for families like me to be with their loved ones in their final days. Sons, daughters, wives and husbands can show their love and say their goodbyes. That's so precious and important." Read more of Teresa's story

Thank you to everyone who attended our three Light up a Life services this month. Your support has been tremendous and we are so grateful. 

Mark Howard, our Palliative Care Consultant, spoke beautifully at the Brentwood Cathedral service on Saturday December 9th. Below are his elegantly written words.

“Good afternoon, I have worked in Saint Francis for the last fifteen months and in that time have had the great honor to be part of the team who have cared for many people who have died or who have lived with a life-limiting illness. Being relatively new in the charity I was surprised but honored by the opportunity to speak today as we come into this festive holiday season at a most poignant and moving gathering such as this. Originally the request came to speak about why I chose a career in palliative care, however I want to turn that around and instead talk about why palliative care chooses those who work in it and those who dedicate their time volunteering for it.


Not surprisingly, in an area such as this I need to talk about death and dying, which is not something that comes naturally to those who were brought up in a time and place such as ours. Like many young doctors it was the mayhem of the hospital where I was first introduced to people who were dying and their families. At that point I had never really witnessed what dying looked like, and for the majority of us here, dying can be hidden from view, where it is an unspoken, rumored and feared thing. People come to their own dying as strangers to it, as foreigners. In fact, from what I have observed most of the people who are dying or their families have never really seen someone die. The reasons for this secrecy are many, and run deep in our society and culture.


One thing that troubled me a lot as a junior doctor was the blindness of the medical system to the significance of what is happening when dying comes elbowing its way into our lives, like an unwelcome guest that changes forever our relationships with those who we love. Medical training does not lend itself to an appreciation of this part of life, and I witnessed several situations in hospitals when medical interventions were inappropriately brought to bear on people who are dying. We see our loved ones go through the appointments, scans and treatments, hospital stays and earth shattering news, through the fatigue to exhaustion, the hoped for things, and those things that will not come about. Finding meaning in these times requires a lot of courage and effort.


For those who come across palliative care, with its holistic approach, its willingness to see and speak the truth and its compassionate ethos, it can make a lasting positive impact in times of immense sadness. It is times like these when a growing understanding of what constitutes dying well develops in those who are willing to know it. It can become possible to see (through the sometimes-overwhelming grief) the effect that good palliative and end of life care can bring to families. Those who are moved by the sanity of this outlook often dedicate their time and energy to helping make it happen, and I was no different as a junior doctor those years ago. We have shining examples to follow of palliative care pioneers like the late Dame Cicely Saunders who saw the gap in care over 50 years ago for people abandoned by the medical technology which was not able to offer a cure for their ailment. This remarkable person founded the modern hospice movement, and we have much to be grateful for because of her and others like her.


Those who work or volunteer in palliative care often come with their own personal stories of family or friends who have died. Through the heartbreak of those experiences they may glimpse something about the wholeness of life and death that they had not previously understood, regardless of their religious or spiritual background. This insight of why this matters can change their outlook and change what their life means to them. They may seek to learn as much as they can and dedicate themselves to improving the status quo by working or volunteering in palliative care. To the average person it can sound paradoxical that good dying, or dying well, is what we should strive for. However in our work we witness again and again the long lasting benefit for families and carers when it is done well.


Palliative care has taken a firm root within modern medicine, but it is often a weaker voice at the high powered NHS meetings that take place, when funding and resources are apportioned to those who provide services. It is weak, in part, because of our contemporary understandings of death and dying that run through every level of our society, and the boardroom is no exception. As you may know, we rely on fundraising and people’s generosity to gather the majority of the resources to provide our service. Without that, we would not be able to afford the kind of care and environment that people and their families so desperately need


However, we stand side by side with dedicated people who want to continue to improve it. As I said already we are all here with the memories of at least one special person in our hearts. So I would like to say that if you are involved in hospice and palliative care or supporting the work of Saint Francis hospice through fundraising in any way, then thank you. The magnitude of your generosity has a far-reaching impact. Please keep going, we really need you to keep going, and there are countless patients and families who need you now and in the future. It is what motivates us all to keep going in what we do. Thank you very much.”




Please call 01708 723593 if you have any further enquiries about Light up a Life.