My name is Dolores Sweeney and I’m part of the care team here at Northern Ireland Hospice. It is my privilege to invite you, your family and friends to join us on Tuesday 19 December for our annual Lights to Remember celebration.
I have worked at the Hospice as a social worker for 14 years now; in fact, I started as a volunteer here two years before that! In that time, I have met families from all over Northern Ireland, from all walks of life. I have seen how the hospice care that we offer to all has enabled incredible, positive moments of togetherness and achievement, even in a patient’s very last days and hours.
So, that’s our goal for every patient and every family we meet. We recognise we can’t change the situation – but we can help to make that journey the best it can possibly be. For our patients, that means exceptional medical, emotional and spiritual care; giving the chance for peace, comfort and dignity. For our families, it means creating lasting, positive memories of their loved ones to hold onto; but we’re also there to offer advice, reassurance and a shoulder to lean on in the most difficult times.
Lights to Remember is when we take time to think about those people who are no longer with us. It’s a chance for everyone across Northern Ireland, on one special day each year, to come together with others who know how we’re feeling; to share the joy of their memory – and support each other as we mourn their loss.
Our special Lights Celebration Event commences with refreshments at 6.30pm at Dominican College, Fortwilliam Park, Belfast, BT15 4AP on Tuesday 19 December; the celebration itself begins at 7.30pm.
Here, we’ll gather for a short service of readings and favourite Christmas carols. Then, we’ll give everyone
their very own battery-powered candle and together we’ll walk the short distance to our new Hospice
building on Somerton Road.
Once we’re there, the Salvation Army band will play for us and we’ll all gather round our beautiful Christmas tree as we switch on the lights – each light shining brightly in the memory of someone very special. Our lovely café will be open for refreshments too after the celebration is over.
I’ve been to most of our Lights to Remember celebrations in my 16 years here and for me it’s always been an intensely moving but positive experience. The abiding memory I have is hearing all those footsteps as we walk together from the school to the Hospice. The sense of community and togetherness is so strong. One magical year it even started to snow, just as we switched the lights on – I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t been there myself!
Please take the time to Read Robert Byers story whose Mum we looked after over Christmas last year. His story defines why hospice care is so precious – and why Lights to Remember is such an important time of year for all in our Hospice family.
How you can help this Christmas
It is my hope that you would kindly consider making a donation to help pay for the care that our team will be providing over this coming Christmas and New Year. It is only through the generosity of local people that our care service exists.
- One hour of complete care from our team on the In-Patient Unit over Christmas will cost £25
- A typical Hospice at Home visit by a specialist nurse, helping to keep a family together for Christmas, will cost £53.82
- Overall, we’ll need to find £300 to fund each patient’s care for every 12 hours over the holidays.
A gift from you, of whatever you feel appropriate, would help to give local people in their final days the expert care we’d all want for our own loved ones.
With warmest Christmas wishes, from all of us here, to you and your loved ones.
Northern Ireland Hospice Care Team