The Princess Royal opens Dorothy House’s expanded ‘Firefly Woods’

By Anita Jaynes on 15 September, 2023

On Thursday 14th September, Dorothy House Hospice Care was honoured to welcome Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal to celebrate the opening of its Firefly Woods as a place of reflection and remembrance for everyone across the Dorothy House community.  

Her Royal Highness took a guided tour around the Winsley gardens and Day Patient Unit to meet with Dorothy House patients and families, volunteers and staff before officially opening the newly expanded Firefly Woods and accepting a Firefly in memory of her late mother and father, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh.

Wayne de Leeuw, Chief Executive, Dorothy House Hospice, said, “Our vision is to create a place where death is a part of life. By opening up our grounds to the wider community, we hope to create an open space for reflection, accessible to all, connecting individuals in grief and celebrating life.”

Nature can have powerful benefits for people encountering grief. The event also launched a new partnership between Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and Dorothy House to ensure more people have routes to connect with nature in bereavement.

In 2020, internationally renowned artist, Bruce Munro, gifted Dorothy House hundreds of individually handmade ‘Fireflies’ for installation in the woodlands at Winsley House. Each Firefly is a constellation of separate small lights, which glow from dusk to dawn. 

The Firefly Woods have since become a deeply valued space for those impacted by Dorothy House’s care to take a moment amongst the lights to pause, breathe, reflect, and remember their loved ones. 

The newly expanded immersive space of reflection contains almost 20,000 individual lights which move in harmony with the leaves of the woodland surrounding them. The installation is now open to all across the community: a place where anyone can come to remember loved ones, connect with nature and explore their grief. 

To mark the opening up of the Firefly Woods to the community, Firefly number one isn’t dedicated to any one individual but glows to represent everyone we have all loved and lost.

Now anyone who has experienced grief can visit the Firefly and feel part of a wider compassionate community; united in destigmatising death and in acknowledging bereavement.  

To help fund the vital, compassionate care provided by the Hospice, each year Dorothy House invites people to dedicate a light on a Firefly. This is a wonderful way to create a lasting legacy for a loved one and to join a community of support in bereavement. 

There are annual ‘Celebration of Life’ events for all those who have dedicated a light to bring the Firefly community together. The event on 14th September was an opportunity for hundreds of those who have dedicated a light this year, alongside further supporters, staff and volunteers, to celebrate together, and the team and guests were deeply honoured that Her Royal Highness was in attendance.

 To find out more about the Firefly Appeal click here and watch the video below.