On Thursday 14th December you will find me at my second home, the Royal Marsden Hospital Chelsea, however this year I will be wearing my friend’s hat and not just as a patient blending into the crowds.
So, rewind to last year when I attended this event for the first time and had a star on the tree for me. I had been through a shit year but the end was in sight and i had come out the other side.
The service was very moving as over 200 people gathered on the steps and around the tree to ‘celebrate a life’ and across all cultures. Everyone was so friendly, something that the Royal Marsden is known for. So, I took my spot on the 2nd step down from the top by the revolving front door and I stood next to a couple who came every year from Eastbourne and had done for over 10 years. Their were a few patients and nurses and then I remember one of the Volunteers (Friends), Sally, offering mulled wine and that was special. Hubert came along as did Pamela which was to have the support and i recall we had a Thai dinner after as I went down with a cold which i hope will not be the case this year. The service is really special, starting with the lights been turned on and lighting up the hospital and it’s amazing how people walking past or on the bus stop and stare as they know the hospital and what it stands for – its unique. Then we sing a couple of carols, their is a choir and readings.
The concept of ‘celebrate a life’ is that you buy a star for the tree however, the chance of finding your star is slim but your name is in the programme which is good enough for me. However, this year as I know a few of the Estates staff I am hoping that if they have my star they can put it on at least eye level but I think that may be like looking for a needle in a haystack but we will see.
This very special service only lasts for an about 45 minutes from 6pm and you will have my cheery face walking around with mulled wine and mince pies and singing along to the carols as I do love a sign along!
Christmas is a very hard time for many, as it is a time for family and someone who lost both parents, my father before Christmas 16 years ago and then losing my mother 3 years ago in September. So, its now just my sister and I and our amazing partners and of course my friends too.
As I volunteer I have met so many amazing people who have had ‘hope’ and ‘determination’ to beat the big C and, I have met people who have fort gallantly and sadly not pulled through. All these people touch you as I am only human and this year my star was for everyone.
So, please if you can come along next week and if you can’t, maybe walk past over the following days and think of someone who you have lost and find peace in this tree, a tree of life, a tree of reflections and a tree of tributes.
Thank you to the Royal Marsden Chelsea.