Light up a life at hospice in memory of loved ones

TOGETHER: The Longstaff family, include Charlotte's nephews Joel and Drew, front, mother Linda centre, and from left to right, sister Louise, dad Dick, Louise's partner John, sister Amy and niece Erin.
TOGETHER: The Longstaff family, include Charlotte's nephews Joel and Drew, front, mother Linda centre, and from left to right, sister Louise, dad Dick, Louise's partner John, sister Amy and niece Erin.
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HUNDREDS of twinkling lights, each representing lost loved ones, adorned a tree of remembrance during a moving ceremony at a Sunderland hospice.

St Benedict’s Hospice’s Light up a Life event at the weekend saw 500 people remember someone special, by dedicating a light to them and making a donation to the hospice.

Among the supporters were Dick and Linda Longstaff, the hospice’s Roman Catholic lay chaplain, who lost their daughter Charlotte, 37, in April this year.

Charlotte, and her twin sister Louise, had been born two months premature when, at nine days old, Charlotte contracted meningitis, which left her with severe disabilities and needing 24-hour care.

Charlotte, whose family said she was renowned for her zest for life and sense of humour, spent her last three months in St Benedict’s earlier this year.

Donations at her funeral and funds raised by her family, and friends who ran the Great North Run in September, generated £4,000 for the hospice and additional funds to buy two iPads.

Charlotte’s sisters Louise and Amy, and her niece and nephews Erin, 12, Joel, 10, and Drew, seven, were chosen to turn the lights on for the service, which took place in the grounds of the Ryhope hospice.

Dick, 64, of Sunderland, said: “The facilities at the hospice and the nurses there were fantastic, and since Charlotte died we’ve been very keen to give something back.

“We’re a very close family and the kids were looking forward to lighting up the tree.

“It was a lovely service and a wonderful way of remembering Charlotte.”

Derek Moss, chairman of St Benedict’s Hospice Board of Trustees, said: “The tree looked beautiful when it was lit up and it was a very poignant service celebrating the lives of people who were no longer with us.

“We’d like to thank everyone who came and supported the work of the hospice.”