Remembering the lost by candlelight at poignant Portsmouth service

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It’s a poignant sight – hundreds of candles floating across Canoe Lake, each one representing a lost loved one.

That was the scene last night at the annual Light Up a Life service in Southsea.

From left, Leon Dabbs, Claire Desty and her dad Peter helped to move the candles out into the lake. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (143567-3)

From left, Leon Dabbs, Claire Desty and her dad Peter helped to move the candles out into the lake. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (143567-3)

The service, for The Rowans Hospice, allows people to remember those who have died, and who won’t be around for Christmas.

A short ceremony was held where people sang Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and Silent Night. Prayers were said as families faced the lake and watched the floating candles.

Julie Clifford, 55, from Copnor Road, was remembering her brother Peter Wade who died in September, aged 58, after suffering a heart attack.

Her mother-in-law Olive Clifford also died this year, aged 89.

Julie said: ‘We thought it would be nice. It’s for the children as well.

‘It doesn’t make it so sad for them. I think they find it quite exciting.

‘It’s good to remember someone.’

Her sister Janet Jowett, 62, from Portchester, added: ‘He would be pleased that we’ve come out tonight.’

Amanda Mahoney is the communications manager at The Rowans.

She said: ‘Everyone in our community can come together and remember those we love who are no longer with us.

‘It’s so important, especially at Christmas time. A lot of people can feel very lonely.

‘An event like this is just lovely because everyone can come together and share their experiences.

‘It shows there’s a lot of support and love out there.

‘It’s such a lovely experience for the community to come along and support each other.’

David Holton, 67, from Southsea, lost his wife Christine, also 67, in March. She was cared for by staff from The Rowans.

He said: ‘This is the first time I’ve been here.

‘Something like this is very good.

‘Christine was at the Rowans.

‘They looked after her and it was unbelievable. You couldn’t fault the care.’

Helen Hollis was at the service with friends Cath Page and Sandie Murphy.

They were remembering their friend Kerry Noyce.

The 53-year-old from Fareham died after battling ovarian and stomach cancer.

She was cared for by the Rowans at home.

Helen, 54, from Horndean, said: ‘It’s lovely. It’s nice to do the lights and it’s a way of remembering her at Christmas.

‘We want to remember her and we don’t want to forget at this time. It’s a lovely idea.’