Frances and her family - from left to right Jake, Kerry, Frances, Carla and Dan

Candles on the Canal: Family, Live Music and a Time to Remember…

Authored by Hospiscare
Posted Tuesday, June 25, 2019 - 11:22am

Candles on the Canal is a new event hosted by local charity Hospiscare. Its purpose is to bring hundreds of local people together for a relaxed and uplifting evening in memory of loved ones who have died, taking place on Saturday 21 September from 4:30pm. Everyone is welcome regardless of who they are remembering, how long ago their loved ones died or whether they were looked after by Hospiscare.

Starting and ending at the relaxed and family-friendly environment of the Double Locks, participants will walk alongside the canal returning to see a raft of glowing candles, each one lit in memory of somebody special.

Frances Pillinger, 67, from Whipton, explains why she will be going along:

“My husband Dave was looked after by Hospiscare. He had oesophageal cancer. I wasn’t aware of the charity before Dave’s illness. It was only when Dave was really sick and being treated in the RD&E Hospital that I heard about Hospiscare. Dave had been in hospital for around six days when the suggestion came up that he might like to be transferred across to the ward at Searle House.

“Dave wasn’t interested at all, he thought he’d go in and never come back out. So our daughters Kerry, Carla and I went to check it out. At that point Dave was too ill to go, so he agreed we could go on his behalf. So over we went and we all thought it was just brilliant. So peaceful and welcoming. We went back and told Dave he must go. He still wasn’t sure, but we were so adamant that he agreed to go.

“Once he got there, he relaxed and was really content. He fell in love with the nurses and got on so well with the Health Care Assistant, Neil. They both shared a passion for football. Dave was in a side room and had a telly with the football on. But he would drift off to sleep so Neil would keep him updated of who was winning the football when he woke up. Neil had a variety of silly hats that he would wear and he really made Dave laugh.

“It seems odd to say, but we enjoyed the last eight days of Dave’s life. Whilst he was at Hospiscare it was his and Carla’s birthday - they shared the same date. So we had fun, we had time to just be together. The Hospiscare team made sure we had anything we wanted. Dave would have whiskey off a sponge. He had trouble talking at that stage but he could still manage to request the whiskey sponge. He loved the big bubble bath too.  He would be in there every half hour if he could. People would visit and we would all sit and chat. Dave joked that me and the girls were like three witches chatting round his bed. He would sit in bed smiling at us, just happy to be listening to all the chit-chat. We stayed at Hospiscare overnight and one of us was always by his side.

“Dave died on 19 February, just seven days after his and Carla’s birthday celebrations.  He was 69.  We had been married for 44 years. The first six months after were just a blur. I just don’t remember it. The grief has been without doubt the most difficult thing to get through. I am alright now though, it’s just tough learning to live without him.

“Family is everything and the girls got me through it. They were just brilliant. Kerry helped with the admin and the paper work and Carla kept me going with the cuddles.  The grandchildren were brilliant too.

“I can’t praise Hospiscare enough, I rave about them to everyone. I had no idea before what a lovely charity it is. Even now after Dave’s death I like popping in to Searle House, it just feels so comfortable and everyone remembers me. We bought an engraved leaf on the memory tree they have there. It’s nice to go in and spend some time looking at it, remembering Dave.

“That’s why the family and I are going to go along to the Candles on the Canal event.  I imagine it will be an uplifting experience. Comforting to be around others who have also lost loved ones and to spend some time reflecting. I am looking forward to lighting a candle in Dave’s memory and seeing it float off on the water.”

This uplifting and atmospheric evening begins with a short reflection in the canalside marquee, combining music, words and celebration. This is followed by a lantern-lit three mile memory walk along the canal, before returning to the cosy marquee for more music and a warming hot drink. Those taking part will be able to write their own personal dedication to be attached to a tealight, to be placed with hundreds of others on the still waters of Exeter Canal, creating a stunning and symbolic display.

Tickets for Candles on the Canal cost £12 for adults, £5 for 12-18s and under 12s are free. Book today by visiting or call 01392 688020. By taking part you will be helping raise vital funds for your local charity Hospiscare. Places are limited so visit the website to secure your ticket.

Hospiscare provides specialist care for adults with any kind of terminal illness, and support for their carers and families in Exeter, Mid and East Devon. A gift to Hospiscare in your Will helps to ensure the future of the charity for generations to come.

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