The theme of our Light up a Life services this year was celebrating the gift of life. The following message from St. Margaret's Hospice was written by our Spiritual Care Coordinator, Ann Fulton.

On behalf of St. Margaret’s Hospice, a very warm welcome to this Light up a Life service as we come to remember those whose love and example have illumined our lives.

In November, groups gathered across the country to remember and pay tribute to the nation’s heroes. Today we gather to remember our own personal heroes - our loved ones. We commemorate them and we re-member them in the sense of keeping their memory alive. Thankfulness for their love mingles in our hearts with the sadness of our loss. They were our partner, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, family member, friend… and today we come with full hearts to light up their memory and celebrate the gift of their lives.

At St. Margaret’s Hospice over this last year we’ve been continuing to care for those entrusted to us - some 3,800 people over the 12 months. Men and women whose lives have been filled with love, relationship, contribution, achievement, hope… and so much more. Their stories shine like the stars, continually inspiring us to make each day count for every single person in our care.

Our clinical teams ask not ‘what is the matter with you as a patient?’ but ‘what matters to you as a person?’ because what’s important to them as a person in their life, now, immediately becomes important to us. Our whole focus is on making life the best it can be for however short a time is left.

Anniversary parties, trips out, blessings of relationships, family Sunday lunches together, visits from animals and family pets - all these are regular occurrences on our two In-patient Units in Taunton and Yeovil. Meanwhile, our teams working in the community provide reassuring presence in homes across the county, and through our telephone adviceline give vital advice and support - all to help patients stay within the comfort and familiarity of their own home.

However it is, and wherever they are, we strive to nurture and celebrate the gift of life in each individual person in ways which are meaningful to them now. And our concern is always for family and close friends too - recognising the burden they carry alongside their loved ones.

In ‘Making Each Day Count’ St. Margaret’s is embracing and embodying one of the great principles of the modern hospice movement, which is to honour and celebrate the gift of life, both in those around us and within ourselves.  And like the wise men in the Bible reading following the star to the place of Jesus’ birth, it’s the light of those who’ve gone before us which inspires and lights our way into a future birthed with hope.

So may we each find comfort for our loss, warmth and love for our spirit, and also a renewed sense of the precious gift of our own life to strengthen our hope and lead us into the months ahead.