A UNIQUE ceremony cast light on the gloom as a hospice encouraged a community to remember their loved ones.

For the second year running, the Light a Life Appeal was celebrated in Darlington over the internet with the live streaming of a ceremony from St Teresa’s Hospice, hosted by its chief executive Jane Bradshaw.

A national initiative involving 200 hospices, the event offers people the chance to think about the people they have lost and raise much needed funds in the process.

In Darlington, a dedication and lighting ceremony was broadcast live from The Woodlands, the home of St Teresa’s Hospice for the past 25 years, with everyone welcome to attend online, regardless of whether or not their family were cared for there.

The ceremony comprised Christmas carols played by Peter and Harriet Bradshaw and the Hurworth Concert Band and readings by Mrs Bradshaw, hospice chair Carol Charlton, director of care services Deborah Robinson, admin manager Lynne Wright and in-patient unit health care assistant Clive Wright.

For a donation to St Teresa’s, people were able to dedicate a light to a loved one after which they received an acknowledgement card from the hospice which they could hang on their Christmas tree or place on the mantlepiece.

To date, donations totalling over £15,000 have been made in memory of more than 800 people.

Lights adorning the walls outside The Woodlands were lit for the entire festive period thanks to Harvey Electrical Services and these can be seen from Woodland Road.

The ceremony was filmed live at the hospice and can still be viewed at https://youtu.be/g1QZ5MnLfwo.

This year donors were also offered a ‘Light up a Life at Home’ pack so that they could join in with the ceremony as it happened. These packs contained a copy of the ceremony programme, a candle to light and a commemorative badge.

Mrs Bradshaw said: “The readings highlighted the philosophy of the hospice. The past 18 months we have all taken stock and despite the pandemic we have been able to celebrate the best in humanity and human kindness.

“We have been reminded about the importance of community by the way people have responded when we needed survival help to continue providing our services and our own hospice team who went the extra, extra mile to support patients and carers and each other.

Light up a Life is a symbolic gesture to say ‘you are always with us, you are always in our thoughts’.”

Anyone still wanting to dedicate a light should go to www.darlingtonhospice.org.uk/light-up-a-life/ to make a donation and leave a dedication.

The hospice needs to raise £3m a year to provide free day, in-patient and community care for people living with life-limiting illnesses and their families in Darlington, South Durham and North Yorkshire.