THE countdown to this year's Light Up A Life switch for Wirral Hospice St John's has begun.

Ten thousand lights will be switched on in memory of loved ones during what promises to be emotional Globe-backed ceremony in the hospice gardens on Sunday, December 8, which starts at 5.30pm.

On the night, there will be a performance of carols by the Hospice choir.

Accompanying them will be the Lyceum Brass Band and Wirral Schools' Brass Band. Singer Sarah Chidlow will give a solo performance.

Last year, more than two thousand people attended the ceremony, raising £100,000 for the hospice work.

Pushing the button that night was Joanne Cawley - joined by husband Alan and their sons James, 13, and Luke, nine, to turn - in memory of parents Ruth and Martin Size.

Joanne said at the time: "It was such an honour and privilege to be asked to switch on the lights, as each light has its own special story.

"This was only our second year at Light up a Life, but will now be our family tradition every year.

"We will always remember my mum and dad and will light up their lives with a light for each of them.

"Although they are not here with us they will never be forgotten and will stay close in our hearts always."

Mum Ruth was first diagnosed with mouth cancer in 1972 and received radiotherapy treatment. In January 2009, she learned the devastating news that her cancer had returned.

She had an operation to replace her jawbone which resulted in having difficulty with eating, drinking and talking.

Ruth then had eight years cancer free before it returned again for a third time.

In February 2016, she was told the cancer was terminal and started receiving treatment and palliative care.

She was referred to Wirral Hospice St John's and attended the Day Therapy Unit.

She was apprehensive at first as she found it difficult to communicate with others due to her speech problems.

Joanne accompanied her to the first few sessions and said they were both welcomed by warm compassionate team of staff and volunteers who soon made them feel at ease.

In May last year, Ruth was admitted onto the Inpatient Unit for one month.

According to Joanne, the care was fantastic and gave Martin a much-needed rest.

Ruth's wish was to die at home and a care package was put in place complete with equipment for use at home.

She received support from the Hospice at Home team, district nurses and Macmillan nurses.

She died peacefully at home in July last year, aged 71.

Dad Martin was diagnosed with prostate cancer six months later.

He joined a bereavement group which helped him talk to others spouses who had lost their partners.

Sadly, Martin died suddenly in August from a stroke.

Joanne said he was proud and thrilled that the three had been asked to switch on the lights at the Light up a Life service.

Thanking our readers for their continued support of the event Julia Evans, fundraising manager at Wirral Hospice St John's told the Globe today: "I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported Light up a Life over the past 22 years.

"It's always a very special night when people come together to remember loved ones and spend time with family.

"It is also a chance to support and raise vital funds for the hospice.

"Our lights can be sponsored in memory of your loved one whether you have a connection to the hospice or not."

Light up a Life keepsake tree decorations are available for a donation from £3.

To sponsor one of the tree lights or to buy a special tree decoration keepsake.

Call 0151 343 0778 or visit www.wirralhospice.org to make a donation online.

Light Up A Life is just one of the events that aim to boost hospice funds in the coming months.

A 'Mucky Muddy' challenge will be held at Church Farm in Thurstaston a week on Sunday (September 29). To sign up for the event, go to www.wirralhospice.org/muckymudder

If the thought of walking over hot coals appeals to, there is a fire walk at the hospice on Friday, November 8.

On the night there will also be live entertainment, a barbecue and refreshments. To sign up for the event, go to www.wirralhospice.org/firewalk