Over 1,000 families attended the annual Northern Ireland Hospice Lights to Remember service last night (Thursday).
In the lead up to the event, thousands of personal messages and stories poured into the Hospice in memory of friends and relations. Every single message has been placed on a tag and will be displayed on the Christmas tree over the festive period.
Paul Clark, Northern Ireland Hospice president, hosted the service at Dominican College, Fortwilliam and afterwards hundreds of people made their way to the Hospice in a candlelit procession to see the lighting of the tree.
Paul said: “It’s truly an honour to host this special event as losing someone you love is something we can all relate to. Lights to Remember allows us all to take a moment to pause during this busy time.
“The atmosphere during the event is very unique and I would encourage people to come along next year. It is an uplifting, poignant event that connects everyone who attends.”
This year, the lights were switched on by Tanya Philips and her two daughters, Ruby and Hollie, from Carrickfergus. The Phillips family wanted to take part in the ceremony in memory of their father and grandfather, William Haggan who received specialist palliative care at home by the Northern Ireland Hospice Community Nursing Team.
Heather Weir, the charity’s chief executive, said: “This Christmas, many people will be missing someone they have lost. Our annual Lights to Remember service provides an opportunity to come together to remember loved ones with the support of people who have shared a similar experience.
“Every year, I am humbled by the level of support and love that is shown to the Northern Ireland Hospice and the work that we do. The generosity of people across Northern Ireland is incredible, as Northern Ireland Hospice only receives 30% funding from Government we rely on this goodwill more than ever.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every person who contributed not only to Lights to Remember but throughout the year to ensure we can keep delivering a high standard of care to over 4,000 infants, children and adults every year”.