AT A beautiful and moving Christmas memorial service, hosted by The Oaks crematorium, Havant, families and friends gathered to pay tribute to their loved ones.
About 400 people attended the service at The Oaks, which is run by The Southern Co-operative.
There were hymns, poems, readings, music performed by the Spirit in the South choir, and a stunning rendition of Angels, sung by Ellie Lomas.
The service was officiated by me, the Rev Carol Gully and the Very Rev Paul Miles-Knight.
There was time for personal reflection and a minute’s silence.
After the service, guests were invited to write a personal message on a star and place it on the Christmas memorial tree.
This time of year can be particularly difficult for families grieving the loss of a loved one, and this gathering was a lovely opportunity for those to come together with a common language.
It was a welcome respite for everyone to escape the frenzy in the run-up to Christmas, and take time to reflect and remember those that have passed, in the company of others that understand the poignancy that this time of year can bring.
After the service, guests were provided with hot drinks and mince pies, and donations were made to the Rowans Hospice.
A total of £421 was raised and given to the Rowans Meerkat Service which provides specialist support to assist children and young people who have a significant adult (such as a parent or grandparent) with a life-limiting illness or who have been bereaved of an adult close to them.
n Set in more than eight acres, The Oaks crematorium is surrounded by beautiful ancient, semi-natural woodland and a wild flower meadow, providing a picturesque setting for the crematorium building which has been sensitively designed.
As well as creating a space that is relevant for all cultures, ages and beliefs, it provides a tranquil sanctuary for the bereaved, inspired by its natural setting.