Dougie Mac’s flagship campaign – Light Up A Life – is now in its 23rd year and sees around 4,000 people in the local community dedicate a light on the Dougie Mac tree in memory of a loved one.
The campaign has raised approximately £113,000 so far this year from over 8,000 lights dedicated to loved ones, helping to raise vital funds that enable the hospice to continue providing exceptional care to local people living with life-limiting illness and their families, and donations are accepted right up until Christmas Day.
Dougie Mac Supporter and Volunteer Wendy Firth supports the Light Up A Life campaign in memory of her late husband, Mike.
“For 20 years, Mike was the lifeblood of Dougie Mac, giving his time to volunteer and fundraise. He helped out at many events and took on an Ambassador role before becoming a Trustee of the hospice and a member of the Finance and Investment Committee.
“However, it was in June 2014 when we experienced first-hand the amazing care that Dougie Mac offers when arrangements were made for Mike to spend the week in a Community Lodge with his own kitchen and wet room for the week as he was too unwell to join me on a trip to Germany.
“He’d been diagnosed with heart and lung problems in 2012, and since then had struggled with his loss of independence. However, his time at Dougie Mac did much to restore his spirit, and the love and care shown to Mike and his family was nothing short of outstanding.
“Following his week’s stay which he enjoyed immensely, owing to the independence he was able to once again experience, it was suggested that Mike attend Day Therapy Unit once a week. Mike loved being able to socialise with the other patients and could talk about any concerns with the staff. He thoroughly enjoyed the ‘scrumptious’ 3-course meal, accompanied by a tipple of brandy – his favourite!
“Mike passed away in September 2014 surrounded by his loving family.
“I continue to support Light Up A Life so that other families like Mike’s will experience the love and care that we all received.”
Emilie Langston, Trusts and Philanthropic Officer, is part of the Individual Giving team that is responsible for delivering the Light Up A Life campaign. As the granddaughter of Mike Firth, the campaign means a lot to Emilie as she remembers her Papa this Christmas.
“Dougie Mac played a huge part in giving Papa his independence back. I remember visiting him in the lodge to find him grinning from ear to ear! I miss him tremendously and wish he was able to see me now, with the same passion and commitment to raising funds for this amazing hospice that looks after 3,000 patients and their families, just like ours, every year.
“I too, have dedicated a light to honour Papa’s life, in memory of the most loving, caring, kindest man I have had the pleasure to know and love.”
In exchange for a donation, supporters of the campaign receive a special Christmas card for each honoured loved one, a decoration to hang on the tree and the inclusion of their loved ones’ names in the Book of Memories.
68 year old Colin Drew is also a keen supporter of the campaign having sadly lost his wife Val of 42 years in February 2016.
“The care that Val and I received from Dougie Mac’s Inpatient Unit right up to the very end of her life and beyond was nothing short of outstanding. Dedicating a light in Val’s honour not only commemorates her life, but also I feel I’m giving something back to the place that helped us so very much during difficult times” he said.
Colin volunteers for Dougie Mac delivering retail posts to our 20 shops each week and also sings in the Dougie Mac choir who performed at the Light Up a Life ceremony which at the Victoria Hall, Hanley earlier this month.
“It’s a privilege to sing amongst others like me, who have experiences of the hospice. It’s been a great source of comfort to me that I can socialise with those experiencing similar circumstances. I felt immense pride singing at the ceremony at Victoria Hall for Val and everyone else remembered by Light Up a Life.”
For anyone who missed the Light Up A Life ceremony, or wishes to experience it again, it was recorded in full by local community radio station 6 Towns Radio and will be broadcast from www.6towns.co.uk at 10am on Christmas day at with a listen again option available a few days later.
Jill Bowler, Head of Legacies, Individual Giving & Trusts, said,
“Dedicating a light on the Dougie Mac Christmas tree is a tradition for so many local people like Wendy, Emilie and Colin each year. We have 8,000 loved ones remembered so far, and as usual, supporters enjoyed a beautiful and emotive ceremony in December to honour each of them.
“It’s thanks to the generous supporters in our local community taking part in Light up a Life that we are able to raise such important funds for our much-loved hospice, enabling us to continue providing care for patients and families.”
There’s still time to dedicate a light to someone special this year by visiting www.dmhospice.org.uk/light-up-a-life.