A first-time memorial service for bereaved Fenland families has been hailed a resounding success – with plans now in place to make it an annual event.
Organisers of the event at Wisbech’s St Peter and St Paul’s Church were expecting around 20 people to attend – but it attracted more than 130.
Father Paul West, who conducted the service, also described it as “one of the most extraordinary experiences in all my time as a priest”, and afterwards there were many positive messages posted on social media.
The service, organised by funeral directors W and W G West and W Bailey and Son, was for families and friends to remember their loved ones who have passed away over the last 12 months.
A total of 147 people attended the service, including funeral staff, and it featured Christmas carols, readings and a performance of ‘O’ Holy Night’ by tenor Phillip Tolley.
There was also an opportunity for people to write special messages on memorial Christmas trees at the front of the church.
Father Paul said: “It was one of the most extraordinary experiences in all my time as a priest.
“We thought we might have 20 people come along; instead we welcomed over 130 members of the public.
“What I witnessed was extremely moving: tears, heartache but also great kindness, love and compassion from the staff and the parish ministry team. We must do this again next year.”
Lee Nelson, the funeral director’s business manager, said: “Christmas can be a very difficult time for those who have lost someone close to them and this was one small way that we could help local families remember their loved ones.
“The invitation went out to everyone in Wisbech and the surrounding areas who wished to remember their loved ones in this way.”
Many positive messages were posted on social media by attendees, with one writing: “A beautiful service with elements of joy, sorrow, love and celebration warmly and thoughtfully brought together.
“Hope this can be the first of many.” Another wrote: “Fab idea, thank you so much to W and W G West and W Bailey and Son for organising this. Well done.”
The Memorial Christmas Trees are now available in the Wisbech branches of both funeral directors for members of the public to hang their own special messages on.
To place a message on one of the trees contact W and W G West or W Bailey and Son on either 01945 584512 or 01945 584762.