A father who lost his son to a degenerative illness is urging people to support the hospice that is helping his family.

Roger Fielding and his wife Diane had to cope with the death of 13-year-old Oliver – and they face further anguish as their third son, Max, aged nine, suffers from the same condition.

The couple, from Ilkley, who also have a healthy son, ten-year-old Louis, say they could not have coped without the support of Martin House Hospice, which this week launches its Light up a Life Appeal in its 25th anniversary year.

The couple are grateful for the help they have received from the “fantastic” hospice in caring for Oliver and Max, both sufferers of the rare degenerative condition MECP2.

The family were able to enjoy time together at the hospice, and after Oliver’s death 18 months ago, they were also helped with bereavement counselling.

“It was really nice to be able to spend time with the children when their care needs were being looked after,” Roger said.

He added: “It would be unimaginable to try to cope with the challenge of a life-limiting condition and bereavement without the support of Martin House.”

The hospice’s Light Up A Life Appeal acknowledges the importance of treasuring the memories of lost loved ones.

Fundraising manager Alyson Wort, said: “In return for a donation to the hospice, people can dedicate a light on our Christmas tree.

“You can sponsor one of these lights either to celebrate the memory of a loved one who has passed away, or to acknowledge a special person in your life. Their name will also be added to our special Book of Dedication.”

The tree will be illuminated during a candlelit service at St Mary’s Church in Boston Spa at 7pm on December 11.

All proceeds will go towards the care of children and their families. The hospice is currently caring for more than 340 families from across Yorkshire and about 120 bereaved families. With annual running costs of more than £4.9 million, Martin House is almost entirely dependent on voluntary donations.

Call (01937) 844569 or visit martinhouse.org.uk to support the appeal.