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Isabel Hospice Lights of Love ceremony in Bishop's Stortford celebrates lives of loved ones



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After a pandemic-enforced two-year absence, Isabel Hospice's Lights of Love remembrance ceremony returned to Bishop’s Stortford on Sunday afternoon (Dec 5) to mark a moving start to the season of merriment and mirth.

Dozens of people gathered in front of the town's Christmas tree in Market Square for a 30-minute service to remember loved ones who have died and to shine lights in reflection of the light their lives had given.

After being entertained by Christmas music from community choir Herts and Soul, they were welcomed by the hospice's Stortford area support group leader, Renée Friend, a volunteer with the charity for 35 years. However, she was suddenly and temporarily taken ill, so the hospice's chief executive, Helen Glenister, who lives in the town and was attending as a spectator, filled in for her.

Isabel Hospice chief executive Helen Glenister addresses the audience
Isabel Hospice chief executive Helen Glenister addresses the audience

She said: "Christmas is a time when we gather with families and friends, and it can be a difficult time when we think of those who are no longer with us. We hope you will gain strength from today's service and feel that Isabel Hospice is here to support you.

Lights of Love supporters and donors had been sent two stars by which to remember lost loved ones: one to decorate and hang on their own trees at home and the other, bearing a dedication, to be returned to the hospice for display throughout December in its Living Well Centre in Welwyn Garden City. A programme for the ceremony listed the names of around 1,000 people being remembered.

The ceremony featured an address by the mayor, Cllr Keith Warnell, a reading by Stortford Indie editor Paul Winspear and three Christmas carols: Once in Royal David's City, Silent Night and Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

Methodist Church minister Rev Gill Hulme blesses the lights
Methodist Church minister Rev Gill Hulme blesses the lights

Members of the crowd switched on artificial tealights as a countdown to the switch-on of the Christmas tree lights reached zero. Rev Gill Hulme, minister of the Bishop's Stortford Methodist Church, blessed and dedicated the lights, and this was followed by a minute's silence.

It was the sixth of eight such services happening across eastern Hertfordshire after events at Van Hage Garden Centre near Ware and in Buntingford, Welwyn Garden City, Cheshunt and Hatfield House. The seventh takes place in Sawbridgeworth on Friday (Dec 10) at 4.30pm at Sayesbury Manor. Hertford Castle will host the final one on Saturday (Dec 11) at 4pm.

Isabel Hospice provides free palliative care through its in-patient unit and day centres to patients with life-limiting illnesses in East Herts, Broxbourne and Welwyn Hatfield, as well as support for families. This year, it needs to raise £16,937 a day to provide its services. Last year, Lights of Love raised more than £40,000 for the hospice.

Isabel Hospice supporters at the Lights of Love in Market Square
Isabel Hospice supporters at the Lights of Love in Market Square
Herts and Soul community choir
Herts and Soul community choir
Isabel Hospice, Lights of Love 2021, Market Square, Bishop's Stortford (53536377)
Isabel Hospice, Lights of Love 2021, Market Square, Bishop's Stortford (53536377)
Isabel Hospice, Lights of Love 2021, Market Square, Bishop's Stortford (53536380)
Isabel Hospice, Lights of Love 2021, Market Square, Bishop's Stortford (53536380)
Stortford mayor Cllr Keith Warnell and Renee Friend of Isabel Hospice
Stortford mayor Cllr Keith Warnell and Renee Friend of Isabel Hospice
Isabel Hospice, Lights of Love 2021, Market Square, Bishop's Stortford (53536386)
Isabel Hospice, Lights of Love 2021, Market Square, Bishop's Stortford (53536386)
Bishop's Stortford Independent editor Paul Winspear delivers a reading
Bishop's Stortford Independent editor Paul Winspear delivers a reading
Methodist Church minister Rev Gill Hulme blesses the lights
Methodist Church minister Rev Gill Hulme blesses the lights
Isabel Hospice, Lights of Love 2021, Market Square, Bishop's Stortford (53536395)
Isabel Hospice, Lights of Love 2021, Market Square, Bishop's Stortford (53536395)
Isabel Hospice, Lights of Love 2021, Market Square, Bishop's Stortford (53536401)
Isabel Hospice, Lights of Love 2021, Market Square, Bishop's Stortford (53536401)


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