DOZENS of families gathered for an emotional service to remember their loved ones.
Lights on a giant Christmas tree in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, were switched on as part of the Rowans Hospice’s Light up a Life event yesterday.
And around the base of the tree, friends and families had written touching tributes to their loved ones on stars.
Several choirs from across the area led a carol service before prayers from the hospice’s chaplain Lance Blake, and fireworks were sent over the civic offices.
Isabelle Camus’ mother Marie-Rose Camus died at the Purbrook hospice on Christmas Day last year aged 84. She had motor neurone disease.
Ms Camus, of Warwick Crescent in Southsea, said: ‘The staff at the hospice were very, very good, very understanding and very respectful of the person’s needs. Events like this help give the people left some peace of mind.’
Richard and Emma Buchan of Wilson Road in Stamshaw, Portsmouth, were there for family friend Terry Skippings who died on October 30.
Mr Buchan said: ‘He actually died at Southampton General Hospital, but we heard about this and we know others who’ve been to the hospice, and we thought it was a good way to remember him. It’s a really good idea to do something like this.’
Mrs Buchan added: ‘He was like a father to me and a grandfather to our kids.’
Susan Crane, 56 and her daughter Sarah, 19, were there to remember her husband Reg, who died of cancer in January 2009.
Mrs Crane, of Purcell Close, Waterlooville, said: ‘It’s a good time to reflect without having to rush around.’
Ruth White, chief executive for the hospice, said: ‘It was beautiful. I think it was quite magical.
‘This can be a difficult time of year – it was emotional, there was poignancy, but I think there was a lift to it as well.’