HUNDREDS braved torrential rain to show their support for end-of-life charity Sobell House at its annual Lights of Love ceremony.

It was a packed attendance outside the Churchill Hospital-based hospice where well-wishers and supporters of the charity penned personal messages which were placed on a specially decorated Christmas tree.

There was also live music and carol singing with the Steventon Choral Society together with the Jubilee Brass Band.

For the first time this year Oxford University and Oxford Brookes all-male a cappella group Out of the Blue were also in attendance entertaining crowds, before speeches were given and the Lights of Love Christmas tree was officially switched on.

Speaking on the night head of fundraising at Sobell House Dominique Cadiou praised the turnout for what is one of the biggest events for her team.

She said: “It is a chance for people to come together and remember their loved ones. We are delighted with the turnout and expect up to eight hundred people.

“We are grateful that the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust estate have been really helpful.

“This is a really important event for us, we raise between 20 and 30 thousand pounds at this event which is really important for us.

“But it is not just about the money, it really is an important way for us to greet all the people that you have known and met throughout the year, it is a very special moment for us.

“It is a very emotional time of year, Christmas is an emotional time especially if you have lost someone in your family, it’s a time when you really remember and miss them.”

She added that the charity which works with those affected by life-limiting illnesses, needs some two million pounds in funds each year to continue running its services.

At the Lights of Love event heart-warming messages were written on to red paper baubles and placed on to the tree outside the hospice.

A digital version had already been set up online with many posting their own messages.

One read: "2018 was the most bittersweet year yet. We love and miss you more than you will ever know. Keep on lighting up the sky for us my beautiful star."

Another said: "We miss you every single day but even more so at Christmas - your beautiful smile outshone any Christmas lights.

"We love and miss you so very much."

One message, addressed to a 'dear husband, soulmate and best friend', had the touching tribute: "The first day we met was the day I started living. Thank you for the wonderful memories we made of the amazing love and life we so happily shared.

"You were, are and always will be my everything."

Previous years have seen more than one thousand messages tied to the physical tree, and last year more than 500 people turned out for the ceremony.