The stories behind the world’s first memory-powered Christmas tree

To celebrate the power of special memories this Christmas, Marie Curie has unveiled our light up memory-powered tree; the more memories that are shared, the brighter the lights shine. Here are just some of the memories making the tree sparkle. 

Paola and her sons, Aron and Sasha

Paola and her boys, Aron and Sasha, sharing memories at the Light Up Christmas tree.

In 2015, Paola was told her cancer was terminal and was given three to six months to live. After responding well to a new course of chemotherapy, Paola used the support of the Marie Curie Hospice, Hampstead to recover her strength. She now attends weekly gym sessions at the hospice after dropping her twin sons, Aron and Sasha, off at school.

“Last Christmas the boys held a carol concert for our family. They sold tickets to members of our family and raised £50 for Marie Curie. They came up with the idea of charging people for entry to our house on Christmas day. We had 16 people round. Front row seats were £1, back row 50p. They made a little programme and everything! Seeing them do that and perform at Christmas is a memory I’ll never forget.

 “When I first went to the hospice, I was in a wheelchair. I could barely get out of it because the muscles had atrophied. But then they introduced me to the gym there it turned everything around. I saw the nurses at Marie Curie and the doctors; they were all really helpful.

“Aron and Sasha have been seeing a psychologist from Marie Curie as well. Marie Curie was the only place where we could find a child psychologist who’d see them on a regular basis. There’s not a lot out there for kids whose parents are sick.” 

Bryony, Reann, Jodie and mum Wendy

Wendy (third from left) with her daughters Reann, Jodie and Bryony lighting up the Christmas tree.

Sisters Bryony, Reann, and Jodie will be visiting the tree with their mum, Wendy, to remember their Nan, Christine who was looked after at the end of her life at the Marie Curie Hospice, West Midlands in January this year. This will be the family’s first Christmas without her.

When Christine was being looked after in the hospice, the family made a pillowcase together with hand prints and memories, which they now have as a reminder of her. The girls also made their own flower arrangements for their Nan’s funeral and made a collage of photos of them all together. The girls have been supported by a Children and Young People’s Counsellor, who guided them through the bereavement process. 

Rachel, Sally and Lisa

"Christmas was utter chaos - but the best kind of chaos!" Sisters Rachel, Sally and Lisa remember festive fun with the whole family.

These three sisters will be lighting up the Christmas tree with treasured festive memories of their father, Lyndon “Terry” Radford and their mother Helen Radford. Both of their parents were cared for at the Marie Curie Hospice, Cardiff and Vale, in 2008 and 2014. 

“Anyone and everyone would be here; it’d be utter chaos – but the best kind of chaos! Everyone would muck in and help. We’d have a Chinese on Christmas Eve and then we’d all be up early Christmas morning trying to do the veg.

“It was a full scale operation! The kids would be opening their presents and the grown-ups would be getting things out to the car, making room for all the chairs, and clearing space.”

“Dad cooked, because he was a better cook than mum! After Christmas dayDad always did sandwiches in the night – he would always come in with a platter of sandwiches filled with leftover turkey and prawns and we would have sandwiches and crisps.” 

Help light up the world’s first memory-powered Christmas tree and show your support for Marie Curie Nurses. Share a memory from 4 December using #LightUpXmas on twitter and Instagram and watch the fairy lights get brighter in real time.