Hundreds of seasonal shoppers flocked to the Norfolk Hospice Tapping House in Hillington on Saturday for its inaugural Christmas fair.
So popular was the event that visitors found it difficult to find a parking space in the extensive grounds almost from the moment the fair opened.
But, as well as raising vital funds, the fair was also a chance for people to look behind the scenes of the new hospice, which opened earlier this year.
Chief executive Lyndsey Carter said: “I’m really excited. It’s our first Christmas since moving into the building.
“It gives us the chance to welcome in people from the community to see what we do as we celebrate the beginning of the Christmas period.”
The centre caters for those with cancer, heart and lung conditions and neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.
Mrs Carter recognised the faces of many relatives or friends of those the hospice had cared for during the fair.
And she revealed that events like the fair are now even more important to the hospice, which currently costs around £2 million a year to run.
She said: “Since moving into our new building our care services have increased by 175 per cent.”
To cope, the hospice already needs to increase its funding by a further £1.2 million a year.
But Mrs Carter added: “We only get 10 per cent from the government.”
Norfolk and the Fens is one of the last remaining areas of England without full hospice cover. It is estimated that the population of over 300,000 needs around 30 palliative care beds yet has only eight situated at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital and a local care home.
n As in previous years, the hospice is inviting people to remember their loved ones by dedicating a light on its Christmas tree as part of the national Light Up a Life campaign, which the hospice movement leads.
The first of four Light Up a Life services in West Norfolk will take place at King’s Lynn Minster this Sunday, December 6, at 3pm.
Other events will be held at the Sandringham Visitor Centre on Monday at 5pm, the hospice itself next Thursday, December 10, at 5.30pm and the St Edmund’s Church, Downham, on Sunday, December 13 at 3pm.