Lights shine brightly on Canoe Lake to remember lost loved ones this Christmas

The Rowans Hospice Light Up a Life service took place at Canoe Lake in Southsea on Friday evening.''Picture: Sarah Standing (152003-6666)

The Rowans Hospice Light Up a Life service took place at Canoe Lake in Southsea on Friday evening.''Picture: Sarah Standing (152003-6666)

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MORE than 2,500 lights shone brightly on a lake as people united to remember lost loved ones this Christmas.

Around 3,000 people gathered around Canoe Lake in Southsea for the annual Light Up A Life service, which is organised by The Rowans Hospice in Purbrook.

The centrepiece of the two-hour event was the ‘Lake of Lights’.

Each light floating on the lake represented the cherished memories of relatives who are no longer with us.

Many families stood arm-in-arm as they looked out to the water and quietly reflected on the memories.

The service included a reading by Maggi Hardcastle, entitled ‘This Heritage’, which included the poignant words ‘They still smile in the moonlight’s silver’.

18/12/2015 (JT)''The Rowans Hospice Light Up a Life service took place at Canoe Lake in Southsea on Friday evening.''Picture: Sarah Standing (152003-6681) PPP-151218-200749001

18/12/2015 (JT)''The Rowans Hospice Light Up a Life service took place at Canoe Lake in Southsea on Friday evening.''Picture: Sarah Standing (152003-6681) PPP-151218-200749001

Kym Valvona, 55, from Whiteley, was remembering her husband Mick Valvona, who died last year at the age of 56, and her mother Sylvia Olver-Denning, 75, who died this year. Cancer claimed both their lives.

Kym said: ‘I light a candle near enough every day for him. He was a lovely man.’

Sue Paul, 50, from Buckland, has been coming every year since losing her mum, Brenda Thomson, who was 71, in 2008.

She said: ‘We used to have a really big family Christmas with loads round the table and it’s gradually dwindling.

‘This is just something nice to do – it’s special.’

Zoe Baker, 32, from Portchester, came to celebrate the life of her grandma, Doreen Read, 82, from Leigh Park, who died in October at the age of 82.

She said it was part of the grieving process.

‘She was bubbly, full of life and loved everybody,’ said Zoe.

‘I think this event is really good. It’s the first time we have been.’

Sandy Read, 53, from Leigh Park, came to remember her mother-in-law Doreen Read, as well as 88-year-old June Weller, a dear friend from Havant whose funeral is next week.

Sandy said: ‘She was like a mother to me. I’m finding it very hard and things like this help.’

The service was led by Carol Gully, the spiritual chaplain at the hospice.

Many people joined in the carols, which included Silent Night and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.

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