A SPECIAL tree to remember lost family and friends is flourishing in time for the festive season.
Shoppers at The Bridges are being invited to dedicate a bauble to hang on the centre’s Giving Tree.
In aid of St Benedict’s Hospice and Centre, the tree pays tribute to loved ones who will not be here this Christmas to join in the celebrations.
Sharon Cutter was the first person to hang a bauble, in memory of her uncle, Richard Robinson, who was a patient at St Benedict’s in 2011.
Sharon, 49, a bank manager, said: “The whole family were supported through this very difficult time. In fact, the hospice was like a family to us.
“The other patients’ families all supported each other too, sharing experiences and laughing and crying together. Uncle Richard was like a second dad to me – we were very close.”
Richard, of Grindon, was 64 when he died from cancer.
Sharon added: “The hospice were very kind to him and his family.
“We’ll never forget the kindness, compassion and love they gave us.
“That’s why I wanted to remember him in this special way, and I’m honoured to hang the first bauble in his memory.”
Sharon, of Silksworth, was joined by hospice nurse Brenda Hall who cared for Richard during his time at St Benedict’s.
Staff at the hospice are now urging other people to get involved with the project.
Sylvia Stoneham, fund-raiser, said: “This is a opportunity for us to engage with our community, work with businesses and generate funds four our patients’ benefit.”
More baubles will be hung on the tree in the run-up to Christmas before the tree is moved to the hospice.