THROWING AWAY a Christmas tree is normally an unhappy affair, the final sign that the festive season is well and truly over.

But casting out the Christmas tree was a cause for celebration in north Cumbria this week, with hundreds using the opportunity to support a local good cause.

This Monday, in exchange for a donation to Hospice at Home Carlisle and North Lakeland, volunteers took to the road and picked up 900 Christmas trees from across north Cumbria.

Raising about £8,500 for the Dalston-based charity, the annual Christmas tree collection appeal was a significant improvement on last year’s success. Four hundred more trees were collected on Monday than collected by the charity in 2018.

Hospice at Home fundraiser Cara Varty was one of the team on the road this week, collecting the spent festive trees.

She was thrilled at the level of support generated for the charity through the scheme.

“It’s phenomenal really,” she said. “Putting it into perspective, we need to raise £18,000 a week to run.

“One night with a registered nurse costs £152.”

She added that people signing up to the scheme, through national website Just Helping, were able to choose the amount donated to Hospice at Home.

“Some people have put in £10, just whatever people can afford.

“Some very generous people have put in £100.

“Any donation we welcome. It really does help.”

Cara added that social media had been important in spreading the word about the fundraising effort.

“We’re very grateful there’s been so many people retweeting and posting,” she said.

Cara was particularly grateful to Carlisle City Council, who had given a lot of social media support to the endeavour.

“They’ve been unreal actually,” she said.

Julie Blundell, Head of Income Generation and Marketing for Hospice at Home, wanted to also extend her thanks to the many people who had helped make the fundraising effort possible.

“We want to thank the local people who made a donation, our amazing volunteers, also to those who spread awareness through delivering leaflets and, of course, Just Helping who made this appeal possible.”

“The funds raised will enable us to support and care for local patients who wish to remain at home, with all that is familiar around them,” she added.

“All care is provided to the patient free of charge, and this vital support from the appeal will help to ensure the service is available when needed.”

Hospice at Home provides hospice nursing care in the home across a wide part of Cumbria - a 1,500 square mile patch in total.

Their coverage stretches from the Scottish borders to Kirby Stephen, and from the west Cumbrian coast to the north Pennines.

In addition to providing hospice care in the home, the charity provides a range of services, including occupational therapy, complementary therapy and support for families dealing with bereavement or life-limiting illnesses.

Monday’s charity Christmas tree collection took place across the Carlisle, Brampton, Wigton, Penrith and Keswick areas.

However in the future, Hospice at Home are hoping to expand their collection catchment area.

Hospice at Home will be announcing their 2019 collection areas in the autumn.