Memorial service gives dozens the chance to grieve

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GONE but never forgotten – that was the message behind a memorial service held at a church.

Fr Mike Sheffield read out around 250 names of people who had died, during the poignant service at St George’s Church, St George’s Walk, in Waterlooville last night.

Sheila Hall (77) as she remembers Joseph Absalom who passed away at the age of just thirteen years. She is pictured with Fr Mike Sheffield, who conducted a memorial service at St George's Church in Waterlooville to remember those who have passed away''''Picture: Malcolm Wells (133533-3098)

Sheila Hall (77) as she remembers Joseph Absalom who passed away at the age of just thirteen years. She is pictured with Fr Mike Sheffield, who conducted a memorial service at St George's Church in Waterlooville to remember those who have passed away''''Picture: Malcolm Wells (133533-3098)

Around 30 people had gathered to light candles in the service, led by Fr Sheffield.

Among them was Sheilah Hall, 77, of Holly Drive, in Waterlooville.

She lit a candle for 13-year-old Joseph Absalom, who she took to and from school each day for eight years.

He died around eight years ago.

Sheilah visits his grave on his birthday in June and remembers him at the church’s service each year.

She said: ‘He was a boy with special needs and he started school at five. I took him there one-to-one until he died when he was 13.

‘I was a school escort. All he could do was hear and he could smile.

‘He couldn’t even see me because he was blind. I used to wear the same perfume so he used to know it was me.’

Sheilah said she knew Joseph’s parents and had on occasion looked after him for a short period of time at home.

The service yesterday was for people who suffered a bereavement in the last year.

Young and old lit candles on the advent candle before placing them near the altar.

Fr Sheffield said the service, which saw the gathered mourners sing hymns, gave people time to grieve.

‘Very often when people have a family occasion at Christmas there may be someone missing,’ he said.

‘They’re not there because they’ve died through the year and that’s immensely sad.

‘But particularly with grandparents, where there are children around, they’re almost made to feel guilty if they’re grieving.

‘They’re told they mustn’t be sad because it will upset the children.

‘Actually that’s not what people want to hear, they do want to have an opportunity to grieve.’

In the run-up to the service hundreds of names had been written on stars and hung on the church’s Christmas tree.

Last night Fr Sheffield read out those names and the names of people who had funerals at the church.