A CHRISTMAS tree shone brightly through Saturday's downpours as it was filled with messages and lights dedicated to loved ones who have passed away.

Families gathered, clutching their umbrellas, at the Churchill Hospital for Sobell House's annual Lights of Love memorial service.

Children and adults a like walked up to the tree to try and find their message dedicated to their relative who had passed away.

Ray Farmer, who lives in Abingdon, read a poem at the service in memory of his late wife Sheila, who died of a brain tumour eight years ago.

Oxford Mail:

Mr Farmer reading at yesterday's service.

The 74-year-old said: "I chose a poem called 'One'.

"And it is about how it does not have to be a group of people to make a difference to someone's life, it can just be one person.

"And that was Sheila and that is how she lived her life."

Mr Farmer volunteers at the charity and said it was wonderful to be able to give something back after receiving so much.

He added: "When you become involved with Sobell House it is not just the person that is unwell who is looked after and cared for.

"The whole family is and then you almost become part of the charity's family.

"It is just one of those situations where you've received so much that it makes sense and only feels right to give something back."

This year the charity also had a digital tree, where families and residents could write online messages of love and remembrance.

Sobell House Fundraiser Lindsay Manifold said: "The Lights of Love is our opportunity to help families remember loved ones over the Christmas period, which can be a difficult time.

"Every year, we have hundreds of messages on the Lights of Love tree, each dedicated by families or friends who have lost someone.

"We wanted to offer an alternative way to remember and as a way of moving with the times we have gone digital with a dedicated site to Lights of Love."

Earlier this year the Oxford Mail launched a campaign to raise £40,000 for the charity in a year.

To make a donation visit our fundraising page.