A CHRISTMAS tree has been erected to give people the chance to remember lost loved ones this Christmas.

The St Teresa’s Hospice Giving to Life tree, in the Cornmill Centre, in Darlington, was only able to pay a short visit last year due to the lockdowns.

Its return is expected to be greeted with affection as people, for whom it has become an annual Christmas ritual, are able once again to leave messages on the tree and support the hospice at the same time.

Read more: Where Darlington Santa sleigh tour is going in 2021

Chief executive of St Teresa’s Hospice Jane Bradshaw said: “We know it’s uncertain times so we are really, really grateful to the Cornmill for having us back.

“The Cornmill has welcomed us for at least 20 years and in that time donations received at the tree have totalled over £100,000. The team at the centre have helped promote it and we’d really like to thank them for their support.

“We appreciate it’s been a difficult year for many and we hope that people who are passing by will think of us and someone they miss and commemorate them in this special way.”

Cornmill Centre manager Susan Young said: “I sometimes come and read the messages and they are so touching. I put a bauble on for my mum; she loved Christmas decorations and the concept of the tree. It’s a poignant moment for me and I know it’s the same for a lot of people.”

Greeted by hospice volunteers, visitors are asked to donate a minimum of £2 for a paper bauble on which they can write a message and hang it on the Giving to Life tree.

They also receive their choice of a special pin badge, which have become collector’s items over the years; this year’s new addition is a dove.

Ms Bradshaw added: “Along with personal messages, we get a lot of goodwill messages, people wishing the world a good Christmas and hope for better times ahead. We think the new dove badge representing peace is particularly apt this year.”

The tree will be on the lower level of the Cornmill Centre until Christmas Eve and volunteers will be giving their time to be there from 10am-4pm Monday-Saturday and from 10.30am-4pm on Sundays.

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