Barnstaple’s Christmas lights switch-on was the setting for the launch of this year’s Light Up a Life appeal for the region’s hospices
The Gazette’s much-loved light Up a Life appeal was launched to an audience of thousands this year.
It was marked with the switch-on of a special illuminated star in Barnstaple Square during the town’s Christmas lights celebrations on Sunday.
Now in its 21st year, the appeal has become a Christmas tradition to enable people to remember a loved one and help raise money for North Devon Hospice and Children’s Hospice South West.
The charities host a series of services of remembrance across North Devon through December.
The star in the Square has been joined by stars at both hospices and the Gazette offices, as symbols of remembrance for the region’s loved ones.
The stars were provided courtesy of James Electrics and Any Weld, with the one in the Square also made possible thanks to Barnstaple Town Council.
At Sunday’s launch, the appeal was introduced by compere Seth Conway, hospice representatives spoke to the crowd, Landkey School choir sang and families whose loved ones have been cared for by both hospices spoke about their experiences.
Emma and Mark Smale lost their daughter Imogen when she was four-years-old. Emma said they were referred to CHSW when she was six months: “I had images of what the hospice would be like, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was just the most beautiful place for us to go as a family.
“The care my daughter received was absolutely incredible and the support that I was given emotionally and physically throughout her life and her death last year, I honestly don’t know how I would have coped without them.”
Michelle Edwards and her children Ffion, Niamh and Jordan were there to remember husband and father Iain.
Michelle said: “North Devon Hospice is beyond words. They have become our family, and they helped us through the hardest, most traumatic times in our life.
“They shared with us the happiest, most fun and most precious times. They showed us how to live through it and we truly lived our life together. They were also able to give Daddy, my lovely husband Iain, the ability to die in peace, knowing that his family was supported and looked after.”
When asked what North Devon Hospice means to her, Ffion (aged 10) said: “Everything. It’s helped us through the really tough times. And it’s never lost contact, they’re just the best.”