A SPECIAL celebration will take place in Middlesbrough on Saturday as people are offered the chance to celebrate the life of a loved one.

Teesside Hospice’s Light up a Life tree will be officially opened at 1.30pm when the 12ft tree takes centre stage in the Hillstreet Shopping Centre.

The appeal gives people an opportunity to remember someone special and support the charity by making a dedication and placing it on the tree in exchange for a donation.

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Thousands of lights will be turned on in memory of loved ones during the launch and Christmas carols will be performed by the Tees Valley Youth Choir.

Julie Ince, who has always supported the charity, was chosen to switch on the lights as she remembers her best friend who was cared for by the hospice.

Julie said, “My friend went into Teesside Hospice in 1999. The care from all members of staff to guide her through a traumatic time helped her immensely. I myself felt comforted in the fact that she felt so happy and safe while in the hospice.

"I am very happy to support the Light up a Life appeal to say thank you to the hospice and it is an excellent way to remember her life.”

This year’s Light up a Life tree will stand in the shopping centre until Tuesday, December 19. The dedications will then be taken to St Barnabas Church for a special Remembrance Service the following day at 7pm, where the tree will be blessed and loved ones will be remembered. All supporters of the campaign are invited to attend.