Around 600 people turned up to St Benedict’s Hospice’s poignant Light up a Life ceremony when, less than 24 hours earlier, organisers feared they would have to cancel the event.
Storm Desmond had all but destroyed the 25ft tree, but thanks to Balfour Beatty and a local farmer, the tree was rescued, meaning the charity’s annual fundraiser could go ahead as planned in the grounds of the hospice at Ryhope, Sunderland.
Catrina Flynn, the hospice’s fundraising manager, said: “We’re very grateful to the staff from Balfour Beatty and local farmer Ian Davidson for coming to our rescue – even if the tree was 8ft shorter than planned.
“The tree is the focal point of the Light up a Life campaign, where each of the twinkling lights is a dedication to someone who has passed. The whole event is something that people look forward to attending each year to remember their loved ones at what can be a very difficult time.
“It doesn’t matter how much you plan, you can’t stop nature and it would have been such a let down if we hadn’t had a tree to light on the night.”
This year’s event raised £28,500 and surpassed last year’s funds of £26,000.