At the beginning of December many Rotary clubs throughout the United Kingdom launch their annual ‘Tree of Light’. The concept of the ‘Tree of Light’ was introduced into Shropshire from South Africa in the 1990s by a county Rotarian. For many years, since its inception, my father was a member of the small committee of Rotarians that run the Telford ‘Tree of Light’; these Rotarians are from the four Rotary clubs of Telford.
The name and symbolism of the ‘Tree of Light’ reminds us that there can be light and hope even in bleak circumstances. The main aim of the ‘Tree of Light’ is to serve the public and the community which is at the heart of the Rotary organisation whose motto is ‘service above self”.
People are invited to sponsor a light on the tree in memory of a loved one (or a cause dear to them) and the monies raised are divided between local charities. The commemoration of a loved one around the tree provides a sense of wellbeing to those who take part.
The names of the nominees are displayed around the base of the tree, on the ‘Tree of Light’s web page and also published in the local newspaper. There is always one main charity to which half of the monies raised is donated; the other half is split equally between the Rotary clubs that administer ‘The Tree of Light’, for them to donate to a local charity of their choice. This year the charities are the Telford Hospice, Landau (supported employment), Hope House Children’s Hospices, Marie Curie Cancer Care and the Princess Royal Hospital Breast Cancer Support Group.
My father spent many a long hour in the run up to Christmas attending committee meetings or sitting upstairs at home processing names and lists for publication under the tree and in the local newspaper. His involvement included receiving phone calls from some of the sponsors who had queries about their request. He loved the premise and the concept of the ‘Tree of Light’ and that it provided a treasured service to people at this particular time of year.
Christmas is a time for families and friends and also a time for remembering absent friends and family. The ‘Tree of Light’ is a welcome opportunity to remember and cherish absent friends, it is only fitting that my father’s name now appears amongst those names that, alongside his fellow Rotarians, he helped commemorate over the years.