TWINKLING lights decorated the hillside as dusk descended at Portchester Memorial Gardens where more than 1,000 people gathered to remember their loved ones at Christmas.
The lights were candles were put at memorials by families at the end of the gardens’ annual remembrance service.
In a touching service led by Lance Blake, the chaplain of the Rowans Hospice, 24 white doves were released before the Fareham Philharmonic Choir and the 50-plus Singers joined everyone in carols.
Derran Gates, of Alsford Road in Waterlooville, is a frequent visitor to the gardens for his wife Kellie, who died of cancer aged 28 in 2008.
The 40-year-old said: ‘I still come here every couple of weeks to put flowers down. It’s so peaceful here.
‘This is a good time for everyone to come together.’
Peter Churchill, 62, of Northcroft Road in Gosport, lost his wife of 42 years, Val, to cancer this September. He said: ‘I’ve been spending a lot of time up here – it was very moving.’
The gardens’ director Julie Hind said: ‘It gives an opportunity for everyone to be together, remembering those they’ve lost at what can be a very poignant time of the year, being Christmas.’
Last year’s service was cancelled because of the snow.