Hundreds of children dressed as pirates and princesses join a magical Starlit Walk in Portsmouth for The Rowans Hospice

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STROLLING in your grandmother’s wedding dress is not the usual way of commemorating a loved one’s death.

But for 15-year-old Aidan Meli, the wacky idea was the perfect way to remember his beloved ‘nana’, Sue Mills.

A family dressed up as pirates' Picture: Habibur Rahman (171462-955)

A family dressed up as pirates' Picture: Habibur Rahman (171462-955)

The Milton teen was one of more than 500 children taking part in last night’s Starlit Walk, which was raising cash for The Rowans hospice – a charity which cared for his gran in her final days.

And even with the support of his loving family, the experience for the Charter Academy pupil almost proved too emotional.

‘It would have been my nana’s 65th birthday tomorrow,’ said Aidan last night. ‘She passed away a year ago. The Rowans did so much for her in her last so it means a lot for me to be here.

‘She was a big part of my life. She was like a second mum. Everyone deserves the treatment that she got while she was at The Rowans.’

From left, Callum Meli, seven, Richard Meli, and Laura Meli, with Aidan Meli, 15, who was wearing his late grandmother, Sue Miller's dress. Picture: Tom Cotterill

From left, Callum Meli, seven, Richard Meli, and Laura Meli, with Aidan Meli, 15, who was wearing his late grandmother, Sue Miller's dress. Picture: Tom Cotterill

The theme for the night was pirates and princesses.

Aidan said the idea to wear his gran’s wedding dress was a ‘last-minute one’, as his younger brother, Callum, was already going as a pirate.

Together, the family walked around the Historic Dockyard with other youngsters, many of whom were remembering somebody special to them who had died.

The trek saw those taking part walking either one-and-a-half or three miles around the naval base.

Katie Geer, 13, Albie Brough, seven, and Rae Clarke, 13. Picture: Habibur Rahman (171472-956)

Katie Geer, 13, Albie Brough, seven, and Rae Clarke, 13. Picture: Habibur Rahman (171472-956)

It’s hoped the night will raise about £25,000 for the Purbrook hospice.

Eliza Dunn, of The Rowans, said the event was key in funding the charity.

She added there had been a surge in families this year.

‘It’s been a magical and emotional evening,’ she said.

The start of the walk Picture: Habibur Rahman (171472-943)

The start of the walk Picture: Habibur Rahman (171472-943)

Brenda Mansell with her daughter Summer-Rose, five, 'Picture: Habibur Rahman (171472-953)

Brenda Mansell with her daughter Summer-Rose, five, 'Picture: Habibur Rahman (171472-953)

Grace Hartnell, six, and Gabrielle Kay, five Picture: Habibur Rahman (171472-954)

Grace Hartnell, six, and Gabrielle Kay, five Picture: Habibur Rahman (171472-954)