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Ashgate Hospice > ‘You’d always see us together’: Volunteer to remember her twin brother at special Ashgate Hospice ceremony this Christmas

An Ashgate Hospice volunteer whose beloved twin brother was cared for by the hospice is urging others to support the charity in memory of their loved ones this Christmas. 

Annette Walker started volunteering at Ashgate in February this year to give something back following the care and support her twin, David Thorpe, received at the end of his life. 

Pub landlord, David, died in May 2019, aged 54, after living with a life-limiting heart condition – he spent his final moments on Ashgate’s Inpatient Unit surrounded by family after receiving care at home and from the hospice’s Day Services team for six years.  

This Christmas, she is supporting the hospice’s Light Up a Life campaign and has dedicated a star in tribute to David whilst making a donation to the hospice.  

She will also be attending a special service of celebration and remembrance in December, which takes place in the hospice grounds at Old Brampton. 

Annette, 57, said: “You couldn’t quite describe the relationship I had with David; it really was out of this world.  

“Whether it was a holiday abroad with our partners or helping him out in the pub – you’d always see us together. 

“The love, care and support that the hospice gave not only David, but our whole family was just so special. They really cared and David called them ‘angels’. That’s what motivated me to come and start volunteering at Ashgate – I’m so glad I’m able to come and feel like I’m giving something back.  

“Being able to support the Inpatient Unit staff in helping them care for the patients makes me so happy; I know what families are going through as I’ve been there myself.  

“This Christmas will be my third without David and it’s so sad not being able to spend time with him, particularly at this time of year.  

“But what better way to remember his life and pay tribute to my wonderful twin brother than dedicating a Light Up a Life star in his memory, so future families who need Ashgate’s support can receive it.” 

The Light Up a Life service will include readings and songs, the switching on of Ashgate’s Christmas lights and a chance to reflect and celebrate the lives of loved ones. 

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, those wishing to attend the ceremony will only receive an invite after dedicating a star. They will also receive a special pin badge, a card with a personalised dedication on it to keep with them wherever they go, and two Light up a Life stars, which they can choose to hang on their tree at home or on the hospice’s tree at its Hasland Furniture Store in Chesterfield. 

Those who dedicate a star via the Light up a Life website are also able to share a treasured photo of their loved one to feature on the star along with a special message that will appear in the virtual night sky. 

Amy Buxton, Individual Giving Officer at Ashgate Hospice, added: “We’re so grateful for our wonderful volunteers like Annette, who give up their valuable time to support us so we can care for the patients who need us. 

“As we approach Christmas time, we understand it can be difficult for families like Annette’s as they prepare to celebrate following the loss of a loved one. 

“Dedicating a star and supporting our Light Up a Life campaign is a wonderful way for families to come together whilst remembering the special people who are sadly no longer with us. 

“Not only will you receive an invite to the return of our special Light Up a Life ceremony, but you’ll be providing us with vital funding so we can be there for the families who need us most at Christmas time.” 

For more information about Light Up a Life or to make a dedication in memory of someone, go to: lightupalife.ashgatehospicecare.org.uk or call the Ashgate Fundraising Team on 01246 567250.  

Alternatively, if you would like to make your dedication in person, you can do so from Monday to Friday at Ashgate Hospice on Ashgate Road in Old Brampton or in your local Ashgate Hospice shop.