Lighting up the memory of a special lady

Sam and Denise Bickford
Sam and Denise Bickford

THE fairy lights sparkling in the trees on the Stray hold an extra special meaning for some visitors to the town.

Sam Bickford has travelled from his home in Virginia, USA to see the tree of lights he has dedicated to his late wife Denise, illuminated for the first time.

“It’s emotional being here. The plaque looks great and I’m happy that it’s there for Denise.She was my life.”

Denise Bickford died in May 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland after contracting a virus whilst undergoing treatment for myelodysplasia, a disorder which often transforms into blood cancer.

The final overseas trip the couple took together was to Harrogate to visit the tree of lights they bought in 2010 as a legacy for their children, Adam and Sarah. “We had never been to Harrogate before and didn’t know what to expect.

“We loved it, being able to walk around easily and see the sights.”

Sam and Denise learned of the Yorkshire Cancer Research Symphony of Lights scheme from their good friends Allan and Jennifer Collins who live in Harrogate.

The couples met when they both had boats in the same marina in Maryland.

“We became really good friends and had lots of good times together,” said Sam.

Jennifer and Allan made a donation in 2010 so that lights could be illuminated on a tree outside their home in memory of their daughter Hannah, who died aged 19 after suffering from a heart condition.

Sam said: “Denise thought the idea of the tree of lights was such a nice idea, it’s for a great cause and such a good legacy.”

Sam hopes that the signifigance of the two trees he and Denise bought in Harrogate will encourage their children to visit the town in the future.

He said: “Our eldest Adam has a two-year-old and a baby on the way and our daughter Sarah is busy with college.

“One day they will come to Harrogate and see the place that we loved so much.”