Our Christmas story

In September 2004, my manager asked me to find something that would link the local community with the cemetery.  I racked my brains, an Open Day perhaps – been there done it. A Service of Remembrance – again that had been done. Then a Eureka moment when I came across the advert for the local hospice Light up a Life event, what a lovely idea.

Talking with my colleague Rose, the idea was tweaked, but we both thought it would be good for a community event. My husband and more importantly my manager, did not however feel the same!

What we did

  • Identified a tree within the cemetery – this was to be a living tree and would be known as “the tree of light”. White “fairy lights” were purchased for the tree and a star was donated for the top of the tree.
  • Purchased silver card, and cut it into stars – the idea was for people to write down a message remembering their loved ones, once returned we would then laminate the stars.
  • The laminated stars were cut out and linked together, and then hung on the tree.

The tree of light at Crewe cemetery and crematoriumIt was the first Friday in December, the school choir; band and singers had arrived and were gathered around the staging.

At around 4.00 pm people began to trickle through the gates, then more and more people came, 200 plus, all ages – from babies in pushchairs to the elderly.  Mince pies were handed out together with the service sheet - 4.30pm it was time to start.

The service lasted for about 25 minutes until the time came for the lights to be illuminated, a count down commenced and the lights were on. Everyone joined in with Silent Night and just looked up at the twinkling lights and shinny stars. It was a success, perhaps tinged with sadness but one enjoyed by everyone there.

This became an annual event, always on the first Friday of December; and when we became part of Cheshire East in 2009 we decided to hold the same kind of event at Sandbach and Macclesfield cemeteries.

The Tree of Light events are very much a community event, and the numbers attending continue to grow, last year at Crewe there were approximately 2000 people there, with over 3000 stars hanging on the tree.

This year the events are being held on:

  • 2nd December 2016 at Crewe Cemetery – 4.30 pm
  • 8th December 2016  at Sandbach Cemetery – 5.00 pm
  • 9th December 2016 at Macclesfield Cemetery – 4.30 pm

Please feel welcome to join us in coming together to remember our loved ones, at this special time of year.

Tree of Light - Poem

Christmas comes but once a year
A time for happiness and good cheer
Today we all might shed a tear
As we gather to remember those not here

Days, weeks and months go by
It can be hard not to cry
Just to have our life as we knew
And the loving thoughts we have of you

Our stars are placed on the tree of light
Within our hearts shine so bright
Memories of loved ones out of sight
Are in our thoughts and prayers tonight

We will keep our memories so precious and dear
And recall them throughout the coming year
We’ll celebrate again in 12 months hence
Together remembering their life’s absence

By Jeff Oxley