Shining a light on Mildred’s very special legacy
This Christmas, the branches of the tree in the Mudie household will be adorned with stars which although beautiful, will be bittersweet. This is because each one represents another year they are spending a Christmas without a loved one.
Pam and her family have chosen to celebrate the lives of those they loved by taking part Light up a Life, St Oswald’s Christmas Remembrance campaign, for many years. Their support of Light up a Life all started with a special lady called Mildred, mum of Pam’s husband Steve Mudie. Mildred had been a proud volunteer at St Oswald’s, working in the Day Hospice every Wednesday, checking in patients and keeping files up to date.
“Mildred loved volunteering at St Oswald’s. She saw her role in the Day Hospice as very important and was honoured to be able to make a difference. She loved chatting to the patients, many of whom were around her age and she found lots of common ground with them, such as music, reading and travel. She loved to help people and be there when they needed her.”
Mildred lost her husband Charlie in 1993 and it was then that she first took part in Light up a Life by dedicating a light on the hospice tree in his memory, a tradition that she continued up until her death in 2010.
“Mildred eventually retired from her volunteering role at the hospice after 14 happy years, and by chance, a role soon came up on the Facilities Team which caught my eye. It was Mildred who encouraged me to go for it. She explained that the Hospice was far from the sad, quiet place I has imagined, but was instead full of laughter and life. She told me it would be right up my street and persuaded me to apply – and I got the job! I had many happy years working at the hospice and even after I left to have my son Aaron shortly before Mildred died, I returned to volunteer and continue to do so now.”
Pam and her family have continued what Mildred started by supporting Light up a Life in memory of Charlie, but now they light a star for Mildred too. Each year, when the family put up their tree, a special branch is dedicated to the star decorations that those taking part in Light up a Life receive, along with the card containing their loves one’s names.
“I have never attended the Light up a Life services that the hospice host in person as I am usually at work. Instead my family take part at home in our own way. We keep the stars we are sent when we make our donation in memory each year, and they are the first things that go onto the tree, all together on one branch. Aaron, who is now 10, writes a message for his Granny and Grandad on his star and we place the card on display, which make us feel like they are closer to us throughout Christmas.
“Seeing the stars on the tree every year brings mixed emotions because as the years pass, there are more and more, which reminds us how long we’ve been without our loved ones. It is a lovely tradition for our family though, and our Christmas only begins once our stars are on the tree.”
Pam, along with thousands of other across the region, will be tuning into the very first Light up a Life at Home service on Sunday 6th December. Although the pandemic has meant we can’t come together in person to remember our loved ones, Hospice Spiritual Care Lead Davina Radford will host a short service which everyone can tune into from home at 7pm on our website or Facebook page. During the service, the hospice tree lights will be switched on and each will sparkle in memory of someone special. You can also join in by lighting a candle at home in memory of those you loved and miss.
“Mildred was such a wonderful lady and it’s an honour to be able to support St Oswald’s by donating to Light up a Life in her memory and continue what she started for Charlie all those years ago. She never used the hospice’s services, but a personal legacy she left to me was encouraging me to start my job at the hospice and embark on a fantastic journey at a place where I have been so happy and made so many friends. I am so grateful to her for that.”