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ONCE again, St Mary’s May Fayre drew thousands as the popular event celebrated its 30th year with its biggest attendance ever.

The fayre at St Mary’s Church in Fratton drew in the crowds on bank holiday Monday as residents enjoyed the bouncy castle, bands, funfair rides and the perennially-popular real ale and cider tent, run by volunteers.

(left-right), Ron Fidler, Father Bob White and David Shields.'Pictures: Ian Hargreaves  (150830-6)

(left-right), Ron Fidler, Father Bob White and David Shields.'Pictures: Ian Hargreaves (150830-6)

The money raised from the day will be added to the church’s funds for ongoing renovations to the building and will also be used to support the work the church does around Fratton.

Since the first fayre was held in 1986, the ale and cider tent alone has brought in £66,000.

Father Bob White, of St Mary’s Church, said: ‘This is a celebration of life in Fratton really, there’s a great range of activities and it’s a great celebration.

‘There are more people than usual, this is the biggest I’ve certainly known it since I’ve been here so it’s been a very busy day.

The May Bank Holiday fayre at St Marys Church in Fratton.'Pictures: Ian Hargreaves  (150830-1) PPP-150405-162957003

The May Bank Holiday fayre at St Marys Church in Fratton.'Pictures: Ian Hargreaves (150830-1) PPP-150405-162957003

‘It’s very important to keep holding the fayre each year because we see it as part of our ability to share the wonderful gifts we’ve got in this building and church yard but also to celebrate together with the community of which we are a part so it’s just part of our lives and part of their lives, so it’s great.’

Some 100 people volunteer from the church to run the event and begin planning the fayre in August of the year before.

Alongside the funfair rides and beer tent, church volunteers on the day also manned church stalls, helped run the bouncy castle, set up displays in the church, and the choir organised community hymn singing.

‘It’s a huge undertaking which we do as our gift to the community,’ added Fr White, who has been at the church for 15 years.

(left to right), Peter Gaffney, Jo Dolan and Nigel Rice.'Pictures: Ian Hargreaves  (150830-8) PPP-150405-163227003

(left to right), Peter Gaffney, Jo Dolan and Nigel Rice.'Pictures: Ian Hargreaves (150830-8) PPP-150405-163227003

Before the fayre took place, the organisers had been under the impression that this would be the 24th event.

But on the morning of the big day, the church was informed by a resident that it had actually been running for much longer.

‘This is actually the 30th year – it’s been going on since 1986,’ said Fr White.

‘Somebody came in this morning with the original programme.

‘It has become a much bigger event as years have gone on so 30 years of just a great fun day for everybody.’