AN annual memorial fundraising drive has raised thousands of pounds for a Darlington charity.

The Giving to Life Tree, which stood in Darlington’s Cornmill Centre in November and December, raised £6,000 for St Teresa’s Hospice as members of the public wrote Christmas messages to their loved ones in return for a donation.

The tree is donated to the hospice for its fundraising appeal each year and is staffed by volunteers, who gave an estimated 300 hours of their spare time to support the initiative this Christmas.

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The tree is particularly popular with people who wish to remember friends and family members who they have lost.

The Giving Tree and its handwritten messages will stand in the Cornmill Centre until Monday (January 6) when a non-denominational blessing service will be held, conducted by the Reverend Robert Williamson.