The meaning of our annual Light Up a Life appeal is all the more poignant during the coronavirus pandemic and as the region endures another lockdown.

North Devon Hospice Bedded Unit nurses. Picture taken pre-Covid. Picture: NDH/Upright MediaNorth Devon Hospice Bedded Unit nurses. Picture taken pre-Covid. Picture: NDH/Upright Media

Charities need your help more than ever and this year, as we launch the 24th appeal for Children’s Hospice South West and North Devon Hospice, we hope their communities will be there to support them.

And while this December’s services are unable to go ahead due to the coronavirus pandemic, the charities hope that people will join them at virtual Light Up a Life services being broadcast from each hospice on December 11.

For the past two years the launch has been a special occasion as part of the annual Barnstaple lighting of the Christmas lights event, with moving testimonies from families whose loved ones have been cared for at the hospices.

The annual Light Up a Life appeal has given people the chance to come together and light a candle in memory of loved ones at a series of special church services in support of North Devon Hospice (NDH) in Barnstaple, and Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW) in Fremington.

Light Up a Life 2020Light Up a Life 2020

A service from Deer Park will be streamed on the NDH Facebook page at 6pm, followed by a service from Little Bridge House on the CHSW Facebook page at 7pm.

The uplifting services will feature carols, readings and moments to reflect and remember those no longer with us. The services will also be able to view on the charities’ websites for anyone who misses them.

The Gazette has proudly backed the Light Up a Life appeal since its beginnings in 1995 and chief reporter Tony Gussin said supporting the two hospices in such challenging times was more important than ever.

He said: “The pandemic has had a huge impact on fundraising for both charities, yet they continue to provide essential care for hundreds of local people.

Staff have continued to work with young patients at Children's Hospice South West throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: CHSWStaff have continued to work with young patients at Children's Hospice South West throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: CHSW

“We are incredibly fortunate to have these fantastic hospices on our doorstep, but they can only do what they do thanks to the generosity of local people.

“Light Up a Life is a beautiful way for people to remember those they have lost. And in such a difficult year where we have lost so much, it is more important than ever to keep North Devon’s two hospice beacons shining brightly for everyone who needs them.”

It’s not only fundraising that has been affected by the pandemic this year; both charities have had to adapt their care to ensure they can continue caring through Covid-19.

Sam Pidner, a care team leader at Little Bridge House, said the pandemic had heaped extra isolation and pressures on families who have spent many months at home shielding extremely vulnerable children.

Sam Pidner, care team leader at Children's Hospice South West Little Bridge House in Fremington. Picture: CHSWSam Pidner, care team leader at Children's Hospice South West Little Bridge House in Fremington. Picture: CHSW

“The hospice has remained open for end-of-life and emergency respite but for the first time ever, we have been going out into the community to support families at home,” said Sam.

“Many families have lost their care packages due to Covid so they have had to do all the care. But by visiting them at home, we’ve been able to step in and cover some of these packages and offer that respite support.

“We’ve also done lots of doorstep visits too – sometimes just to say hello and check everything is okay, to deliver a food parcel or take some homemade cake and activities for the children.”

Aimee Smith, staff nurse on North Devon Hospice’s Bedded Unit, says that the support of local people has been vital in these times.

The Narnia sensory garden t Little Bridge House, Fremington. Picture: CHSWThe Narnia sensory garden t Little Bridge House, Fremington. Picture: CHSW

She said: “Our care has continued right throughout the difficulties of 2020, and it’s been vital for those people in North Devon facing an incurable illness like cancer. But this has only been possible thanks to the support of our local community, who have just been incredible.

“The people we care for are going through the toughest times and are even more isolated without being able to have their usual network friends and family around them, so the support of the hospice has become a lifeline to so many.

“We hope local people take part in the Light Up a Life appeal this year, to ensure local patients and families get the care and support they need this Christmas.”

Both hospices are only able to continue providing this support because of the incredible fundraising by people in the local community.

North Devon Hospice nurse Becky consoling a family member (picture taken pre-Covid). Picture: NDH/Upright MediaNorth Devon Hospice nurse Becky consoling a family member (picture taken pre-Covid). Picture: NDH/Upright Media

Please help them to be there for local families this Christmas by supporting this year’s Light Up a Life appeal.

To remember a loved one and to make a donation, please visit www.lual.co.uk .

Caring for patients at the Children's Hospice South West in Little Bridge House during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: CHSWCaring for patients at the Children's Hospice South West in Little Bridge House during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: CHSW

The North Devon Hiospice Bedded Unit. Picture: NDHThe North Devon Hiospice Bedded Unit. Picture: NDH

North Devon Hospice Bedded Unit nurse Andrea with a patient who is receiving 24-hour care. Picture taken pre-Covid. Picture: NDHNorth Devon Hospice Bedded Unit nurse Andrea with a patient who is receiving 24-hour care. Picture taken pre-Covid. Picture: NDH