The Hospice Christmas Trees of Remembrance at local shopping hubs have special significance this year.
As well as inviting shoppers to write on a cardboard ‘bauble’ in honour of a loved one who has died, every tree is a tribute to Orewa resident, artist and hospice visionary, Carolyn McCondach.
Carolyn died at hospice last October, leaving a legacy that permeates the local service.
The Light up a Life Christmas Tree Appeal was one of many campaigns Carolyn established to drum up awareness and support for hospice as it built its services in the Hibiscus Coast, North Shore and Warkworth/Wellsford communities.
The Christmas campaign has endured for more than 30 years, along with the hospice shops, partnerships with community groups and the patient and family services that Carolyn helped set up as a trustee and fundraiser.
Her husband Stuart says Carolyn also hoped to establish a children’s hospice after their daughter Louise died of leukaemia in 1981, at the age of 14. At that time, Carolyn began investigating the concept of specialist palliative care for young patients.
When she came across a fledgling group in Takapuna called the North Shore Hospice Society, she quickly got involved and became chair.
It was the beginning of 25 years of dedicated service to hospice.
During her time with hospice, she overcame her nerves to speak to many community organisations and it was through one of those contacts that she launched the Light up a Life Christmas Tree Appeal. Carolyn’s daughter Fiona designed the two cards – a candle and a remembrance wreath – that donors hung on the trees for the next two decades.
Together with Elsie Tillett, she was also instrumental in starting the hospice shops.
Wilf Marley, who is still on the Harbour Hospice Trust, was a great source of help and encouragement. He visited Carolyn in hospital a few months ago and reminded her of their excitement when they raised their first $100,000. Today, Harbour Hospice raises over $4 million a year.
In 1991 she was awarded an MBE for services to the community.
She served on the hospice trust for 25 years and after retiring, turned her talents to being ‘Super Nana’, running events and creating artworks.
Hospice Trees of Remembrance can be found at: Farmers Silverdale (until Christmas Eve), New World Orewa and Whangaparaoa, Silverdale Mall (Dec 11-23). • There is also gift-wrapping, in return for a donation to hospice – one in Silverdale Mall, and one in Silverdale Centre, opposite Pita Pit (December 12-24).