IT MIGHT be a special time of year, but for those who have lost loved ones, Christmas can be very difficult.
So members of St George the Martyr Church in Waterlooville have a special way of remembering their loved ones.
A Christmas tree is placed in the church and members are invited to hang a star bearing the name of their family member or friend who has died. Many also leave messages.
Last night, a service was held at the church where the names of all 300 people on the tree were read out.
People also had the chance to light a candle in memory of their loved ones.
Father Mike Sheffield, parish priest, said: ‘Christmas is one of those moments when the sense of loss and grief is heightened.
‘They want to be able to enjoy Christmas with their family but they also want to be able to remember those who aren’t going to be there, particularly if it is the first year.
‘It’s a very sad occasion and there needs to be some way to mark that person’s death.
‘People have come to church to pray for that person and to light a candle for them.
‘It means different things to different people.
‘My own feeling is it’s an opportunity for that person to be remembered.’
Tony Rice-Oxley lost his mum Ruby Bullock in January last year. She was 105.
Tony, 70, from Hambledon Road in Denmead, said: ‘I do like to come and remember her.
‘What a lovely way to do it. It’s very special.
‘You can see how popular it is because there are a lot of people who come here and do that.
‘Some of them aren’t church people but they come here and remember their loves ones with little messages.’
Sandra Hewett, 60, from Mallow Close in Waterlooville, put five stars on the tree, for members of her family.
She said: ‘It’s a nice memorial. People we’ve lost, you can put on the tree.
‘It’s nice to remember. It’s nice to see everyone else remembering others as well.
‘It’s important all the time but especially at this time of the year.’
The tree was donated by Edwards Funeral Directors.