AN ENCHANTED forest has arrived at Derian House Children’s Hospice spreading Christmas joy to the children and young people.
The children’s charity offered the community a chance to celebrate a loved one in a unique and special way by dedicating a Tree of Love in return for a donation.
Staff were overwhelmed when more than 78 people chose to light up a tree in the hospice grounds, creating a stunning forest of light.
The gardens at the Chorley-based hospice are now illuminated with 78 6ft Nordmann Fir Christmas trees, each one adorned with twinkling lights.
The Trees of Love idea came about in response to supporters wishing to donate to the charity at Christmas despite the cancellation of the usual festive fundraising events.
Every year Derian House brings together the local community for Lights of Love – an uplifting festive carol service held at Blackburn Cathedral. As this year’s concert had to be cancelled, the charity wanted to capture the poignant nature of the event and create a new way to remember special lives lost.
Chelsea Crossey, Event Coordinator at Derian House Children’s Hospice said: “It was very important for us to keep the essence of our Lights of Love event. At the service, each light on the Christmas tree represents the life of a lost loved one. This year the Trees of Love form a stunning visual tribute with the same sentiment and we have displayed messages and dedications on personalised plaques with each of the trees.”
Local businesses have also to help build the Trees of Love forest, and some donors have chosen it as a special way to celebrate loved ones lost to COVID during this difficult year.
Help also came in the form of the army of Santa Claus who usually make the annual 15-mile sponsored walk through Chorley and up Rivington Pike in aid of Derian House in the Jingle All the Way Christmas event.
Event organiser and Derian House Community Ambassador, Neil Hailwood, said: “It’s been devastating to cancel this year’s Jingle All The Way. The event has raised over £20,000 in previous years so this will be a huge loss to the hospice. Being able to support Derian House in another way is great relief and means so much to me personally. I asked our Santas for help and they delivered like the big man would himself, raising enough to sponsor 14 trees.”
Fundraising activities like Trees of Love help to ensure that Derian House can continue caring for children and young people with life-limiting conditions across Lancashire and South Cumbria.
Mick Croskery, Community Fundraising Manager, said: “Having to cancel all of our events due to COVID-19 has had a huge effect on our fundraising this year. The idea behind Trees of Love was to offer a way in which people can support our children and families while at the same time give them something amazing to see over the festive period. Putting big smiles on small faces is a huge part of what we do at Derian House Children’s Hospice and we really cannot thank everyone enough who has contributed and supported Trees of Love.”
Derian House Children’s Hospice cares for almost 400 babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions from across the North West. Care is free to the families, but costs £4.8 million every year. With less than 10 per cent of this coming from funding, the charity relies heavily on the generosity of its supporters.