Thousands of pounds have been raised for a hospice on Wearside thanks to hundreds of dedications pledged in memory of loved ones.
Former Olympic athlete Steve Cram was the first of many St Benedict’s Hospice supporters who wrote messages on special designed baubles which were then hung on a 20ft dedication tree to remember those not here to celebrate Christmas.
The tree stands in the Bridges shopping centre, in Sunderland city centre, every year to help raise funds for the Ryhope hospice.
This year it raised £10,450 - £600 more than last year.
Steve’s message was in memory of his aunt, Joy Lynch, who was a regular volunteer at the races he organises, including the Run Sunderland events.
She fought a brave battle against cancer, but passed away in October last year.
St Benedict’s Hospice was the official charity partner for the 2017 Siglion Sunderland City Half Marathon and 10K, and will be again in 2018.
Former world champion Steve, who is now a coach as well as a commentator for the BBC said: “Aunty Joy was a very special lady and we miss her terribly.
“It was great to make a donation and remember her on the dedication tree.
“This has been a brilliant way to support the wonderful work done by the hospice.”
Catrina Flynn, head of fundraising operations at the hospice, said: “We’re very grateful to Steve and all those who filled out baubles during what is a difficult time for people who have lost loved ones.
“The Dedication Tree Appeal is one of our most popular fundraising events. It’s very poignant when the tree is full knowing that so many people are being remembered at this time of year.”
Samantha Czwordon, marketing and communications manager, said: “The dedication tree is such a wonderful idea, so I’m not surprised it’s been so popular again.
“The funds raised this year prove the generosity of Sunderland people.
“I made a dedication to my late grandmother - and for such a simple idea, it really is an emotional process that leaves you with a good feeling for Christmas, knowing that lost loved ones are still with us in our hearts.”