A Christmas campaign celebrating the lives of family, friends and loved ones who have been affected by cancer has raised more than ever for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity after being run virtually for the first time, with over £112,000 being donated over the festive season.
The annual ‘Celebrate a Life’ campaign, now in its 17th year, encourages supporters to donate to name a star which is then placed on one of the 20-foot Christmas trees outside the hospital in Chelsea or Sutton during December. For the first time this year, as well as the physical trees, there was also a virtual tree displaying the named stars on the Charity’s website.
Usually, hundreds of people gather at two Celebrate a Life carol services outside the Chelsea and Sutton hospitals. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this wasn’t possible in 2020 and so it became virtual.
Over 350 people tuned in to the live video posted on Facebook to watch performances from local choirs and bands, prayers and a very special reading from guest speaker, Jonathan Pryce CBE.
Despite not being able to hold the physical event as is tradition, the campaign saw an 8% increase in fundraising, and over 2,700 stars were named this year.
Supporters chose to dedicate stars for many different reasons including in memory of someone special, to say thank you to a member of staff who supported them at the hospital or just to celebrate themselves or the people in their lives.
Money raised from Celebrate a Life helps to fund state-of-the-art equipment and groundbreaking research into new treatments to save and improve the lives of cancer patients, not just at The Royal Marsden, but throughout the country.
Barry Symons has named a star after his wife, Ann, who was treated at The Royal Marsden for breast cancer, each year since she passed away in 2014. He said:
“Celebrate a Life is a lovely event and we take part because it’s a way of remembering and connecting with Ann, who loved Christmas, and giving back too. This year’s virtual service was beautiful, and I can’t thank The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity enough for the opportunity to share special time remembering not just Ann, who I know was watching from above, but others affected by cancer too.”
Antonia Dalmahoy, Managing Director of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, said:
“I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has generously supported Celebrate a Life this year and helped us raise more than ever to continue improving the lives of people affected by cancer, even in the most challenging of times.
“We know how important Celebrate a Life is to our patients, their loved ones and our staff. We were all disappointed not to be able to gather together at the hospital. However, the virtual service was a huge success and we’re incredibly grateful to everyone who named a star and joined us virtually to celebrate the lives of those affected by cancer.”