FRIENDS and family who suffered the loss of their loved ones because of a road accident gathered at a church to commemorate their lives.

The service has taken place every year since 2005 at St Mary the Virgin Church in Thame.

Attending for the first time was Sheila Lamb, of Long Hanborough, whose brother Stephen James, 47, died in a road crash in April.

Mr James, a father-of-three from Brize Norton, died after his Vauxhall Vectra was in a collision with a Skoda Octavia on the A40 at Barnard Gate.

“It was calm, it’s quite difficult to explain, there was a sense of calm, and it was comforting,” she Mrs Lamb.

“It was extremely good and a very special service.

“We would like to personally thank Thames Valley Police for all their professionalism and their organisation of the event. Some of the families have been going for seven years, for ours it was our first and we intend on taking part every year.

“Many people there spoke from the heart, and it was special to know that everyone in attendance, whether they deal with loss through their work every day or something they, like us, have experienced for the first time, had been through together.”

A total of 26 people died in road traffic collisions in Oxfordshire during 2011, compared to 41 people the year before.

Police officers, fire and rescue workers, paramedics, ambulance technicians and hospital staff were also at the service and gave readings and prayers from different religions during the service.

The service was led by David Wilbraham, Force Chaplain of Thames Valley Police and Monsignor Anthony Wilcox, representing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham.

Mr Wilbraham, said: “The third Sunday of November is set aside by the United Nations as a special day of remembrance for victims of road death. However, while clearly a global issue, the death of someone on the roads is intensely personal and impacts greatly on their families and friends.

“This service provides a safe, supportive place for those affected to come together to remember and commemorate their individual loss.

“For some, this service has become an annual event; we welcome them and extend the invitation to others whose lives have been affected by death on the roads to join us.”

Chief Constable Sara Thornton said: “The road death memorial service is always very moving but I know that it also provides a great comfort for those family and friends who have lost loved ones in road traffic collisions.

“We have always held the service in Thame Parish Church, which is a lovely old and peaceful building where the bereaved can spend some special time treasuring memories and finding the strength to move forward. It is our way in the Thames Valley of marking the UN Day of Remembrance.”