Lost loved ones remembered at St Michael's Hospice Light up a Life service

THE Malls was lit up with lights and hearty carol singing last Sunday as the shopping centre hosted a special festive service for St Michael’s Hospice.

The Light up a Life event attracted more than 500 people who attended the moving service, which was accompanied by music from Basingstoke Silver Band.

The annual festive remembrance event was held in The Malls, in Basingstoke town centre, this year due to work being carried out at the hospice, in Aldermaston Road.

The evening was opened by St Michael’s chief executive David Monkman, who said: “As usual, it’s been a very busy year at the hospice. We’ve enhanced our Hospice at Home service so that more people can choose to be cared for in their own home rather than the hospice, if that is their preference.

“We have cared for around 250 people in the hospice over the last year and a similar number in the community.”

In thanking everyone who attended the service, Mr Monkman said: “The hospice only exists because of the unfailing support that people such as you and the wider community can give. So can I thank each and every one of you for being here tonight.”

The Bishop of Basingstoke, The Right Reverend Peter Hancock, gave a blessing and spoke of the origins of Christmas trees, referring to the impressive example lit up in The Malls – describing it as an emblem of peace.

The hospice’s new chaplain Lizz Lang gave a reading and said prayers, while hospice nurse Ruth Lewis read out a poem she had written, simply called St Michael’s Poem.

Emma Rose, 31, from Sinclair Drive, Basingstoke, who last year lost her husband Andy Rose to lung cancer, aged 45, said: “I thought it was very moving and I thought about a lot of memories.”

She said that her late husband had worked for MJF Security, working at the shopping centre for three years and later at Lashham Airfield.

Mrs Rose, who is a MJF receptionist at the Central 40 office building, on Chineham Business Park, said Andy was diagnosed with cancer in May 2012 and passed away on November 7.

She said: “He stayed at the hospice for six days – he chose to go there because he was thinking of me. Before that, I worked part-time to look after him, and then I looked after him full-time.

“We had a lady from the hospice who came in to check up on Andy – she was great. When we went to the hospice, I went ‘wow’. They just take that weight off your shoulders. They are so kind there and do an amazing job.”

Iain Cameron, director of income generation at St Michael’s Hospice, said: “Light up a Life is a wonderful opportunity for people to come together to remember loved ones past and present at this very special time of year.

“I was heartened to see so many joining us for this year’s service, which was kindly hosted, and supported, by The Malls.

“Not only has this service provided an uplifting and moving experience to those who attended, but the appeal, will also help fund our services for patients and families in north Hampshire.”

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