OVER 2,000 people gathered in Poole Park for a commemorative charity event last weekend to remember the lives of loved ones.

Lewis-Manning Hospice Care received a phenomenal response to its free community event, ‘Candles on the Lake’ on Saturday October 16, hosted by The Ark café.

Supporters had the option to pre-register for a candle or donate on the night and most families took the opportunity to add a personal message to their candle, at designated dedication stations around the venue.

Area fundraiser Vicki Gray said: “We were blown away by the response to the event – it was everything that we had hoped that it would be and so much more.

“It was very much a family orientated evening with lots of children attending with their parents and grandparents to remember loved ones no longer with us.

“The opportunity to naturally grieve over recent times has been denied due to the pandemic and ‘Candles on the Lake’ seemed to be exactly what everyone needed. The event provided a safe place to reflect, remember, grieve but also celebrate the lives of loved ones.

Attendees were encouraged to start their evening by taking a reflective walk around the lake and enjoy the poignant music played by Boscombe Salvation Army Band.

Bournemouth Echo: Thousands of people released flameless LED tealights onto the lake at Poole Park as part of Lewis-Manning Hospice Care’s ‘Candles on the Lake’ on Saturday October 16, which raised £7,000 for the charity

Volunteers from Rockley Water Sports released over 1,000 candles onto the lake throughout the evening, to create a magical display of floating lights.

Lewis-Manning Hospice Care’s Trustee, Rev’d Jane Burgess delivered a powerful and heart-warming reading, which was followed by a performance from Poole Rock Choir.

Vicki added: “It was an extremely emotional evening, but outweighing any sadness was the overriding feeling of community spirit – there was a real energy of hope and togetherness.

“The success of the event has raised £7,000, which will go towards funding our Bereavement and Family Support service, as well as other vital hospice care and support to patients and their families, from diagnosis of a life-limiting illness, through to end of life and bereavement.

“We would like to offer huge thanks to Hobbycraft Bournemouth who kindly gifted 2,500 flameless LED tealights to our event. Their generosity helped us to create a magical display of floating lights on the lake.”

The charity have received an influx of heartfelt messages from attendees expressing their appreciation for the event and sharing how powerful and emotional it was.

Bournemouth Echo: Left to right: Area fundraiser for Lewis-Manning Hospice Care Vicky Gray, team leader at Bournemouth Hobbycraft store Gayna Bambrey, and Ruth Wright from Lewis-Manning Hospice Care

Due to an overwhelming response, the charity say they are planning it an annual occasion, with the next ‘Candles on the Lake’ event to be held in October 2022.

All candles were floated safely onto the lake, so as not to effect plants and wildlife in the area.

All the flameless candles were collected at the end of the evening by dedicated volunteers to ensure there was no litter and will also be reused for subsequent years.

Hobbycraft Bournemouth store manager Mark Winterford-Arnold said: “As soon as we heard about Candles on the Lake, we were keen to show our support and we are delighted to be able to help make this event a real success by offering the candles.

“Lewis-Manning Hospice Care does such great work in the community, and we were thrilled to be able to contribute and help this fantastic charity hospice.”