Thousands of people each year attend the Christmas memorial service at Bermondsey funeral director’s Albins – but this year for the first time you will have to go online.
In a year when people have lost loved ones and not been able to gather family and friends around them, the funeral home felt that they could not cancel it entirely.
Albins was at the forefront of live streaming services as the COVID pandemic hit.
The usual gathering in the memorial garden on the edge of Southwark Park, which the firm created over 20 years ago, would be taking place next Wednesday December 2 under normal circumstances – but as the country comes out of its second lockdown the boys at Albins have yet again turned to the internet as a way to bring people together.
All of the usual much-loved parts of the service are still taking place, but for the camera only.
The service offers a chance to sing along to Silent Night, video displays of a military tribute, the release of doves and prayers from members of the local clergy.
Most importantly people are invited to write personal messages that will then be hung on a massive Christmas Tree in the garden. This will be included in the service. You can visit the memorial garden at 52 Culling Road, Rotherhithe, London, SE16 2TN from now until the service to write your message. And if you cannot get to the garden email your message to firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a maximum of twenty words.
This is the 21st annual memorial service, which was established by the late Barry Albin-Dyer after getting the garden built in 1999.
Last year the Princess Royal returned for her second visit to the service as it marked its 20 year anniversary (pictures below).
Barry’s sons Simon and Jon told the News: “2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, where change has been a constantly expanding discipline with the need to do all we can to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
“For this year’s service, we are prohibited from allowing people to attend on the evening.
“Our lovely Dad created the Albin Memorial Garden with the belief that the Service of Remembrance would always be the special event that it is. It’s impossible to put into words just how much the service means to us or how important it is to the people of Bermondsey and Rotherhithe and all the families we serve. I can safely say that nothing would prevent us from finding a way for the service to commence, so with the brilliance of technology (and the people who know how it works), we will be coming into the comfort of your homes from the Albin Memorial Garden!
“We have all lost loved ones, whether recently or many years ago. Our grief is part of our lives.
“As our Dad always said, it’s the spirit of the bereaved that makes the service special because we all come to remember together. How right he was!”
You can stream the service from 7pm on Wednesday December 2, by logging in to www.albins.co.uk and following the link. You can watch the service from any time after this.