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2 December 2013, 16:47
An Essex hospice charity has switched on hundreds of Christmas lights to give families a special way of remembering their loved ones.
Two Christmas trees at Fair Havens Hospice in Westcliff and Little Havens Hospice in Thundersley will be lit up throughout December as part of the Light up a Life campaign run by Havens Hospices.
Each year the charity runs Light up a Life to raise money for adults and children with life-limiting illnesses who are being cared for at its two hospices. So far the initiative has raised more than £25,000.
The honour of switching on this year's lights at Little Havens was given to 17-year-old Laurel Parker from Rayleigh, to mark the beginning of her official responsibilities as the centre's first head girl.
Laurel said: "I was excited for my first official duty as head girl. I enjoyed switching the lights on with everybody out to watch. It's a really nice tree and the lights look really good - it will be lovely for families to see as they arrive."
Meanwhile, staff, volunteers and families gathered at Fair Havens for mince pies and hot drinks as chief executive Andy Smith switched on the tree planted in the garden outside the hospice chapel.
He said: ``Christmas can be a hard time of year for many who will be remembering loved ones that have died. Each light on this tree is dedicated to them and symbolises light and hope for their families and friends.''
Jane Guest, chaplain at Havens Hospices, said: ``It doesn't matter whether or not local people have experienced the care of our hospices, Light up a Life is for anyone and everyone looking for a way to remember someone special this Christmas.''
Two further Light up a Life services will be held this month where people can light candles in memory of their loved ones.
The services will be held on December 6 at the Knightswick Centre in Canvey Island and on December 7 at St Mary's Church in Prittlewell
To make a donation to Light up a Life, visit www.havenslual.co.uk or call 01702 220315/220310.