A heartbroken family is facing its first Christmas without a beloved husband and father - as Thames Hospice launches its 'light up a life' seasonal fundraising appeal.

Tanya’s nine-year-old son Tomas and two-year-old daughter Morena will experience Light up a Life for the first time, remembering their father Martin.

Tanya said: “In the space of 2019, we went from busy family life to being told that Martin’s cancer was stage four. By November we were told that there was nothing that could be done.

ALSO VIEW Tears of joy as patients from Windsor's hospice see new home

"Those days we spent at the hospice were like home, not hospital. Tomas went twice to the hospital and hated it; he had to be dragged through the doors.

"At the hospice he came straight in; he was completely comfortable. The lockdown has made all this so much harder, but the angels at Thames Hospice have made it bearable.”

The Light Up a Life appeal will enable the hospice - now based in its new premises at Bray Lake near Maidenhead - to help patients and their families get the support they desperately need this Christmas and beyond.

ALSO VIEW Windsor hospice site could be replaced by retirement homes

Sonia Binge, specialist social worker at the hospice, is supporting Tanya and her family.

Sonia said: “Over these past few months my team and I have worked from our homes and have seen the people we care for on the screen and on the phone, which has been incredibly difficult for them and for us when there is such a need to be close by to hold a hand or offer a hug.

“Supporting families has been incredibly difficult when many young children like Tomas and Morena have not only lost a parent, but also experienced anxiety and uncertainty as a result of the pandemic. I can tell you that our team have shed many tears this year as we travel this terrible journey with the families we care for.”

The Hospice’s annual Light up a Life service will be streamed online on Sunday, December 13 at 4pm, for supporters to watch at home.

To donate to the Light up a Life appeal, watch the online service and order a service at home pack, visit www.thameshospice.org.uk/LUAL2020