Hundreds join together in Portchester for poignant memorial service

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A POIGNANT service was held in the green grounds of a memorial garden for families to remember their loved ones.

Portchester Memorial Gardens held its annual Christmas Service with carols, poems and a minute silence yesterday.

Laura Haskett, with her great aunt, Sandra Gauld and Laura's mum Joanne Haskett, remember Sandra's parents. Picture: Ian Hargreaves)

Laura Haskett, with her great aunt, Sandra Gauld and Laura's mum Joanne Haskett, remember Sandra's parents. Picture: Ian Hargreaves)

Around 1,000 people turned up for the service which is held for families who have a memorial in the garden.

Led by Carol Gully, the spiritual care chaplain for The Rowans Hospice, the event gives people the chance to reflect during the festive season.

Director Julie Hind said: ‘We have been holding this service for around ten years now and I think at Christmas it is important to remember loved ones.

‘Everyone is sharing the same thoughts and feelings. It can be a difficult time for people but it is nice to be together.’

04/12/14  EP''Hundreds of families attended a christmas memorial service at the Memorial Gardens in Portchester.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (143559-1) PPP-141214-173305003

04/12/14 EP''Hundreds of families attended a christmas memorial service at the Memorial Gardens in Portchester.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (143559-1) PPP-141214-173305003

As well as carols led by the Fareham Philharmonic Society and a performance by Highland piper Duncan Matthews, the service also saw a candle lit in a lantern which was put on the pond in the gardens.

After the service had finished, families could then gather their own lanterns to put at the memorials or in the garden.

Carol added: ‘The lanterns are a really special idea because people like to light candles in remembrance of loved ones.

‘It’s a dark time this time of year and that little flame seems to brighten the days up for people. Christmas isn’t always a happy moment for some families because you think about who you want to celebrate the season with who might no longer be with us.’

04/12/14  EP''Hundreds of families attended a christmas memorial service at the Memorial Gardens in Portchester.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (143559-3) PPP-141214-173327003

04/12/14 EP''Hundreds of families attended a christmas memorial service at the Memorial Gardens in Portchester.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (143559-3) PPP-141214-173327003

Peter and Yvette Brown, from Fareham, were at the service with their whole family.

Along with their four-year-old son Aiden, they lit a candle for their daughter Leila who died in 2009.

She was two years old when she died from a chest infection.

Peter, 36, said: ‘We come to the memorial gardens quite a lot and we always try to make the Christmas service.

‘The whole family comes along to remember Leila and we feel the service is a nice event.’ Yvette, 35, added: ‘It was nice to light the lantern. It’s a really good idea. It is lovely that they do it and everyone comes together to remember their loved ones.’

Joanne Haskett was also at the service with her daughter Laura and aunt Sandra Gauld. They were remembering Sandra’s parents.

She said: ‘We try to come to the service every year because it is a special event.’

Proceeds and donations from the service will go to The Rowans Hospice.