LIGHT Up a Life is a community event held every year to help remember a loved one, or honour a friend, while supporting Highland Hospice at the same time.
You can dedicate a light on one of the hospice Christmas trees throughout the Highlands by visiting www.highlandhospice.org/lightupalife, or by completing a form which is available from the Highland Hospice premises at Ness House, Inverness, and from all the hospice shops.
Highland Hospice staff extend a warm welcome to take part in Light Up a Life to the entire Highland community, whether or not your life has been touched by their care. Every single donation will mean a great deal to patients and their families this Christmas.
Light Up a Life events take place around the UK during November and December. Every Light Up a Life event is slightly different, but they all provide a way to remember someone special during the festive period.
Last year Highland Hospice received 1360 dedications, and more than 600 people attended services to mark the individual trees being lit.
Dr Helen Charley is a GP in Cromarty on the Black Isle. She first came into contact with Highland Hospice in 1999 and has been associated with the hospice ever since in a variety of roles.
Despite her medical training and this experience, she admits she didn't truly understand the importance of Highland Hospice to families until five years ago when her husband, Dr Grenville Robinson, spent time being cared for in the hospice in Inverness.
"My husband only spent 48 hours in the hospice, but my family and I will always be eternally grateful for the wonderful care Grenville received during that time, and the ability to stay together as a family with him for those final hours," Dr Charley said.
"Grenville died following complications after surgery for head and neck cancer in 2007. Although I had been a part of the hospice medical team for a number of years, it was not until I was on the receiving end of the care that I realised what a difference it can make to both patients and their families at this terribly difficult time."
Dr Charley added: "I will always support Highland Hospice, and one way I like to do this is to sponsor a light on one of their Christmas trees as part of their Light Up a Life appeal.
"Light Up a Life is a beautiful and simple way to remember a loved one and support the hospice at the same time. Your donation will ensure a light shines on one of the hospice's 21 trees and your dedication will be recorded in the Light Up a Life dedication book.
"If you live close to your chosen tree you can also attend the service at which the tree lights are turned on. During these services we are able to come together as a group to share the acts of remembrance and hope the lights symbolise."
Andrew Leaver, director of fundraising, retail and communications at Highland Hospice, said: "Light Up a Life is one of the hospice's most successful appeals. Since the first tree was lit in December 1995 – just one tree in those days, but now 21 across the Highlands – it has also been one of my favourite appeals.
"Although we are all supporting the hospice by taking part, we all also have our own thoughts and memories associated with each light.
"To me the tree lights are a symbol of hope shining in the darkness, but to the person next to me, as we gather round singing carols, they may be a shining reminder of their lost loved one.
"Light Up a Life is a very personal experience for our supporters and we are truly delighted that so many choose to take part at this special time of year."
* To ensure your dedication is in the Light Up a Life book at the time of your chosen service, please complete your dedication online or complete a form at least one week prior to that service.
Ann Anderson, of Ardness Place, Inverness, is the latest £500 winner of Hospice Lucky Numbers. Ann and her husband Jim are keen supporters of the hospice and they dedicate two Christmas tree lights as part of the Light Up a Life community event in memory of her mum and dad.
The Light Up a Life services
• Brora Tuesday December 4th, 6.30pm, Royal Marine Hotel
• Cromarty Tuesday December 11th, 7.30pm, St Regulus Church
• Dingwall Wednesday December 12th, 7.30pm – National Hotel
• Durness Tuesday December 4th, 6pm, Durness Village Hall
• Evanton Friday December 14th, 7pm, Diamond Jubilee Hall, Evanton
• Fort Augustus Thursday December 6th, 6pm, Lovat Arms Hotel
• Fort William Tuesday November 27th, 6pm, Main Parade
• Grantown Sunday December 2nd, 2.30pm, St Columba's Episcopal Church
• Helmsdale Wednesday December 5th, 7pm, Bunillidh Church of Scotland
• Inverness Monday December 3rd, 6pm, Highland Hospice
• Kingussie Sunday December 2nd, 6pm, Parish Church of Scotland
• Lairg Monday December 3rd, 7pm, Lairg Community Centre
• Lochcarron Wednesday December 5th, 3pm, Howard Doris Centre
• Nairn Sunday November 25th, 7pm, St Ninian's Church
• Newtonmore Tuesday December 4th, 6pm, Village Square
• Poolewe Wednesday December 5th, 7pm, Poolewe Village Hall
• Portree Friday 30th November, 6pm, Portree Square
• Thurso Tuesday December 4th, 6pm, Dunbar Hospital
• Wick Monday December 3rd, 6pm, Caithness General Hospital
• Tain Tuesday December 11th, 7pm, Rose Garden
• Kyleakin Wednesday December 12th, 6.30pm, Kyleakin Village Hall
* This year's Bettyhill service (scheduled for November 30th) has been cancelled but there will still be a Light Up a Life book in the village for dedications.