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December 2015

A Wish Tree at Christmas

Kate talks about the very special Christmas tree her family brought to their town a couple of years ago, in memory of her dad and aunt.

When our dad Rod was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in 1999, my family (myself, my sister Tracey and my mum Pam) had no idea what it meant. Back then IPF was even less well known than it is now. The doctors told us it was like asthma, and could be managed and controlled, so we all felt relieved.

Sadly, we had no idea that three months later, our dad would no longer be with us.

Our dad was such a gentleman, in the truest sense of the word. We were absolutely devastated when he died, and miss him terribly.

But we’ve decided that something good has to come out of it.

Remembering dad

There’s no known cause or treatment for IPF – and it’s pretty common – but so few people have heard of it. That’s why it’s so important to us to raise lots of awareness and funds to make a difference to people like my dad.

We’ve been raising money for the BLF for a long time – since before we began the Breath of Life fund for my dad. If you add everything up that we’ve done so far, we’ve raised £20,000!

We were devastated again last year when our aunt sadly passed away – also from IPF. So we decided we wanted to do something really special this year.

Christmas bauble

A decorated bauble

We came up with the Wish Tree as a way for us to remember them, and raise money and awareness.

We’re asking people to buy a bauble and write a message inside, before hanging it on our Christmas tree.  The money from the bauble will support the British Lung Foundation’s work on pulmonary fibrosis. And it spreads the message about the incredibly important work they do, and about lung disease.

It was really important to us that we get the community involved – my dad and mum have lived here all their married life.

The response has been amazing! Students at the local school have hand-painted all their baubles, while a local children’s group decorated another 50. The tree is totally covered in baubles!

It’s lovely to see people using the Wish Tree to remember their loved ones. My friend lost her husband three years ago to lung disease – and she’s bought four baubles, for her and her grandchildren to write messages for him.

And it’s not just people I know. A bauble with a photograph and “love is the light that shines on” written inside has appeared on the tree.

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9 February 2016