A sea of festive lights in memory of loved ones

Echo: Chief executive Andy Smith, head of patient services Martin Stibbard and Maria New from Stibbards & Sons, Havens Hospices' chaplain Jane Guest and Fair Havens' senior ward sister Susan Moore Chief executive Andy Smith, head of patient services Martin Stibbard and Maria New from Stibbards & Sons, Havens Hospices' chaplain Jane Guest and Fair Havens' senior ward sister Susan Moore

HAVENS Hospices has switched on hundreds of twinkling lights dedicated to the memory of people they have cared for.

Each year, Havens Hospices’ Light up a Life campaign gives families a special way of remembering a loved one who has died.

At the same time, the hospice raises money to care for adults and children with serious illnesses at the charity’s two hospices.

So far, local people have donated more than £25,000 to Light up a Life.

The lights on the two Christmas trees at Fair Havens Hospice in Westcliff, and Little Havens Hospice in Thundersley, will shine each night throughout December.

The honour of switching on the lights was given to Little Havens’ first head girl, Laurel Parker, 17, from Rayleigh, to mark the beginnings of her official responsibilities.

Director of care, Wendy Dodds, said: “It is a special occasion as we think of so many families this Christmas time. As such, it takes a special person to switch on the lights so we invited Laurel to do the honours.”

Laurel, who is cared for by Little Havens because of a condition that causes exhaustion, weak muscles and a lot of pain, added: “It’s a really nice tree and the lights look really good, it will be lovely for families to see as they arrive.”

Staff, volunteers and families gathered at Fair Havens Hospice for mince pies and hot drinks as chief executive Andy Smith switched on the tree planted in the garden.

He said: “Christmas can be a hard time of year for many who will be remembering loved ones that have died.

"Each light on this tree is dedicated to them and symbolise light and hope for their families and friends.”

There are two remaining services for Light up a Life.

They are on Friday at 6pm at the Knightswick Centre, Canvey, and on Saturday at 4pm at St Mary’s Church, Prittlewell Donations can still be made to Light up a Life by visiting www.havenslual.co.uk or calling 01702 220315 or 220310.

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