Poignant memories of loved ones, gone but not forgotten, were reignited on Swanage Beach when one of the town’s most moving events returned for 2023.
Lewis-Manning’s Candles on the Beach ceremony was held on Saturday 21st October 2023 and while Storm Babet was still buffeting large swathes of the UK, it was a still and calm night on Swanage Beach with only the sound of the waves lapping on the shore.
As dusk fell on Swanage, the candles with their poignant messages began to build up
Strength of community praised
It was a welcome return for the event which was launched in Swanage on one of the coldest nights of December 2022, but was an occasion of such warmth that it made an immediate impact on the people of the town.
The strength of community in Swanage was praised by organisers and the popularity of the event led to organisers arranging a similar event, Candles on the Green at Wimborne Minster in Dorset, which will be held on Saturday 18th November 2023.
Together with the Candles on the Lake event at Poole Park which was held on Saturday 7th October 2023, the three events are expected to raise a total of more than £15,000 to fund bereavement and family support services, 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.
Lewis-Manning staff and volunteers took the candles down to the beach
“It was a truly special night”
Fundraising director for Lewis-Manning, Tom Goodinge, said:
“We are so grateful to the Swanage community for joining us at Candles on the Beach. It was a truly special night where the community came together to lay almost 400 candles on Swanage Beach in memory of loved ones.
“It was a really moving evening, you could really feel the poignancy in the event, full of reflection and emotion.
“There were families with children as well as older people, it was a truly beautiful event which spanned the generations, a calm night which made the experience more personal somehow.
“I was placing the candles on the beach and was really moved by the comments of those who had sponsored them to remember family members.
Candle holders from the hospice care charity built up along the beach
A feeling unique to Swanage
“It felt like a really intimate event, perhaps because of the caring people of the town – you can’t create that, it’s a feeling that’s perhaps unique to Swanage and shows the strength of the community.
“This is our second year running this event in Swanage and we are so pleased to see more local people taking part, helping us to care for children and adults alike in Purbeck to ensure they receive the support they deserve at the time they need it most.”
Candles on the Beach was opened by High Sheriff of Dorset Colin Weston and local bands including the Salvation Army played music, while Swanage singer Karen Grant sang following a reflective reading from local resident Maggie Hardy.
All the candles used were made from recyclable materials with flameless lights, to make sure that no wildlife was affected, and were collected up at the end of the evening by Lewis-Manning volunteers to ensure there was no litter and so they can be reused in future events.
Bands and singers performing at the event were much appreciated by a crowd of hundreds
Providing extraordinary care
Lewis-Manning event organiser Hannah Garrett said:
“These Candles in the Community events are a testament to the power of community, remembrance, and support, bringing people together to honour their loved ones and support Lewis-Manning Hospice Care at the same time.
“We provide extraordinary care to patients and their loved ones facing a life-limiting illness across Purbeck and offer a range of free hospice care services aimed at helping people to live well through their illness, closer to home and at home.
“Every year we support around 600 local people and develop new services, based on patient needs and identified gaps in the area.
“This year we need to raise £3.4m to continue providing our important services in your community, and without these funds we could not exist.”
Almost 400 candles lit up the beach by the end of the evening
Feelings of hope and togetherness
“We were overwhelmed by the response from Swanage and Purbeck at last year’s Candles on the Beach, and in response to amazing public demand, we were thrilled to repeat it and to launch a new location for 2023, on the green at Wimborne Minster.
“These are unique, memorable and meaningful events where families and friends can come together to reflect, celebrate and remember loved ones.
“Whilst the events are emotional, the overriding feeling of community spirit always outweighs any sadness and the occasions provide real energy of hope and togetherness.”
Lewis-Manning staff at the recent launch of their office hub in Swanage
Weekly day hospices at rugby club
Lewis-Manning Hospice Care opened a retail shop in Station Road, Swanage, in 2022 to boost income and has since opened a new office hub at the Methodist Church in Swanage High Street.
Services offered in Purbeck have recently increased to include weekly day hospices at Swanage and Wareham Rugby Club alongside family support in patients’ homes, hospice at home respite for patients and their families, and breathlessness clinics at Wareham Hospital.
Traditionally, healthcare providers involved in palliative care focus their support and treatment on the end of life stage of the patient’s journey.
Lewis-Manning Hospice Care says it is committed to spending quality time with cancer patients and their families at the beginning of the journey, at the point of a palliative diagnosis and throughout.
Nurses working at Lewis-Manning have close links to GPs, district nurses, community matrons, and specialist palliative care teams to help provide the most comprehensive support possible.
- Find out more about the work of Lewis-Manning Hospice Care on its website