Light up a Life and remember loved ones at Hackney’s St Joseph’s Hospice

Someone lights a candle at the St Joseph's Light up a Life service. Photo Ari Vitikainen

Someone lights a candle at the St Joseph's Light up a Life service. Photo Ari Vitikainen - Credit: Archant

Bereaved families are being invited to dedicate a candle to their loved ones for St Joseph’s Hospice’s annual Light Up a Life remembrance service.

Chris and Walter Berwick

Chris and Walter Berwick - Credit: Archant

Walter and Chris Berwick will be among those attending the poignant annual service this evening to remember their son Stephen.

He spent the last days of his life being cared for by the staff at the hospice in Mare Street before he lost his life to the brain condition encephalitis last August, aged just 34.

Stephen was diagnosed with the condition in January 2012 after he collapsed following a pub lunch with his mum and dad.

A scan and then a biopsy diagnosed inflammation of the brain, and Stephen then admitted he had been feeling confused and unwell for a few weeks.

Encephalitis is caused either by an infection invading the brain or through the immune system attacking the brain.

A stent was put in to drain the fluid from his brain but his head swelled like a balloon, and a subsequent course of radiotherapy left Stephen blind within weeks, which he found devastating.

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Soon afterwards Stephen went to St Joseph’s for respite care, and for the next 18 months he was in and out of the hospice where he had Reiki and massage sessions and attended the neurological group in the Finding Space centre.

Walter and Chris also received complementary therapies to help them cope with the stress, and they still attend St Joseph’s for weekly treatments.

Walter said he and his wife are “forever in debt” to St Joseph’s.

He added: “I don’t know what we would have done without it, the nurses were absolutely brilliant and it was a real lifeline for us.

“We still come to St Joseph’s, more than a year after Stephen’s death. It’s good for us to still have this link with St Joseph’s Hospice and the people who cared for our son.”

“That’s why we will be attending Light up a Life and making a donation to help them raise the £7 million they need every year to continue to provide these services.”

Michael Kerin, St Joseph’s Hospice chief executive, urged people to light and candle at the service and make a donation.

He said: “Light up a Life is a unique event that really brings people from the local community together to share their memories of their loved ones at a time of year that can be particularly difficult and emotive.”

The service takes place tonight, Thursday December 4 at 7pm, to donate or light a candle please 020 8525 3200 or email