White doves fly as loved ones celebrated at memorial service

EMOTIONAL Doves are released to mark beginning of the event
EMOTIONAL Doves are released to mark beginning of the event
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WITH the spring sunshine blazing down, hundreds of people gathered to remember their loved ones at a moving memorial service.

Portchester Memorial Gardens was awash with colour and music in a celebration of life yesterday.

CELEBRATION More than a thousand people attended service

CELEBRATION More than a thousand people attended service

The ceremony is usually held at Christmas but the bad weather in December forced the owners to postpone to nearer Easter.

More than 1,000 people gathered around the immaculately-kept gardens and the ornamental pond for the service which was led by Lance Blake, chaplain of The Rowans Hospice, Purbrook.

Twenty-four white doves were released into the sky and soared overhead to mark the start of the service.

A steel band played Amazing Grace, Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On and If Tomorrow Never Comes by Garth Brooks.

Prayers were said and a single candle within a wreath of brightly-coloured flowers was lit and placed on the water.

Julie Hind, the director of the memorial gardens, said: ‘I’m very pleased with how it went.

‘For us and for all of the people here that have lost people I think it was more a celebration of life.

‘If we get good feedback from this we will certainly consider holding an Easter as well as a Christmas service.’

Derran Gates went to remember his wife Kelly who died from cancer aged 28, in 2008.

Mr Gates, 40, from Purbrook, said the service gave him chance to reflect on happy times.

‘It was a perfect opportunity to reminisce over things and for me it was lovely to have the steel band because Kelly and I got married in Jamaica,’ he said. ‘The memories are still there as strong as ever.’

Volunteers from The Rowans sold spring flowers which were placed on loved ones’ memorials. All the money raised will go to the hospice.