The Christmas spirit was felt by all at a magical evening of carols and readings for supporters of Derian House Children’s Hospice, held at Blackburn Cathedral at the weekend (Dec 1).
The annual Lights of Love Christmas service featured live performances from the Rawstorne Singers and Local Vocals choirs, as well as special readings from hospice staff, volunteers and supporters.
Darren Bandcroft, 16, who has been using Derian House services for six years, had a huge smile on his face as he pressed the button to officially switch on the huge Lights of Love Christmas tree – watched by his proud family.
“Darren was honoured to switch on the tree. He was a little nervous at first but after he did it, he was on a high for the rest of the night. It made him feel really important. It was a beautiful event,” said Wendy Heaton, Darren’s mother.
Crowds entered the cathedral to the rousing music of the Salvation Army Blackburn Citadel Band who set the tone for the evening of festive fun.
Readings were heard from Derian dad, Nathan Hearn, Nishma Hindocha, BBC Radio Lancashire presenter, as well as Derian staff – Family Support Worker, Lucy Maxwell, and Chief Nurse at the hospice, Catherine Randall.
Guests enjoyed a solo performance from Derian House Family Support Worker Andrea Fontaine-Smith, alongside guitarist Chris Birkett.
The crowd joined in with carols, including a poignant candlelit rendition of Silent Night, and the whole service was translated into sign language to ensure everyone could enjoy the evening.
Karen Edwards OBE, Chief Executive of Derian House, welcomed the crowd as the proceedings began.
She said: “This service marks the start of Christmas for many, and is a chance to look back at what we have achieved this year, as well as looking towards the future. It is also a time to celebrate all the memories we’ve been able to give to our families thanks to the kind donations of our supporters.”
Guests stayed behind for hot drinks and a mince pie after the service, donated by Bowen’s pies of Chorley.
Derian House Children’s Hospice cares for more than 400 babies, children and young people as well as their families. The Chorley-based charity will cost £6million to run this year, and only receives a small percentage of this from funding.