The night sky glittered to remember lost loved ones as a Sheffield hospice launched its annual festival of lights.
Hundreds gathered at St Luke’s Hospice to see nearly 11,000 lights illuminated along the Whirlow building in memory of their family and friends.
Ruth Wilkes, daughter of the late Professor Eric Wilkes, who founded the hospice 42 years ago, said: “This is such an important night on the hospice calendar.
“It’s obviously wonderful as it raises vital funds, which this hospice relies heavily on, but it’s also an opportunity for the family of St Luke’s – the patients, relatives and staff – to celebrate those who have been close to us.
“It’s lovely to start the festive period remembering all those we have loved.
“I’m so proud of this place and of the legacy my dad created. I think it says a lot about the essence of somewhere that it has maintained its standards for 40 years.”
Last night’s ceremony was expected to raise about £40,000 for the hospice.
BBC Radio Sheffield presenter Georgey Spanswick led the crowd in a countdown before the official switch-on at 6pm. After that, there was mulled wine, mince pies and carol singing, as well as seasonal music from the Holymoorside Brass Band and the St Luke’s volunteer choir.
Sheffield couple Alan Jackson and his wife Sandra come to the festival every year.
Alan, aged 77, said: “We’re here for our cousin Barry.
“His wife, Kathleen Jackson, died here at the hospice six years. Barry is a big supporter of St Luke’s, he donates £100 a month to pay for a nurse.”
Sandra, 68, who regularly volunteers in one of the hospice charity shops, said: “I think the festival just crystalises something for people. It’s one night out of the year, filled with fundraising and working, that’s for remembering and celebrating. It stands for the hospice; those lights are little rays of hope.”
Rebecca Walker, of Norton, brought her family and friends along to remember her mum Mary, who died at the hospice in April.
The 36-year-old said: “It’s a wonderful place.”
“The staff here have been so superb, so supportive.”