Picture slideshow: Spirit of Christmas shines through at The News annual carol service

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WITH the lights turned down low and hundreds of Christingle candles shining bright, the spirit of Christmas came to a Portsmouth church.

Hundreds of families turned out for The News annual carol service at St Mary’s in Fratton.

Ellie Blyth, of Penhale School ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (151891-22)

Ellie Blyth, of Penhale School ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (151891-22)

Pupils from Manor and Penhale Infant and Newbridge Junior Schools gathered at the front to sing Christmas songs and carols – and the church choir helped to get everyone in the festive mood.

Vicar of St Mary’s Father Bob White spoke about The Christingle and how it represents the world and the four seasons. Readings were given by editor of The News Mark Waldron as well as the paper’s gardening guru Brian Kidd.

Both thanked everyone for coming and praised the choir and the schoolchildren for their performances.

To top it all off, children sang a heartfelt rendition of Away In A Manger as everyone held a shining Christingle.

It’s a gorgeous occasion. Jasmine has sang carols at The Kings Theatre and she absolutely loves this sort of stuff. It makes her feel special and Christmassy.

Lisa Whittingham-Brown, of Milton, Portsmouth

Arthur Barbara, of Fratton, came to see his daughter Ella-Mae, six, perform.

He said: ‘It’s an important occasion for the children, and it’s important to show community support. It’s such an awe-inspiring place. As soon as I came in, I just thought “wow, this is amazing”.

‘To see everyone come together and enjoy themselves is great.’

Lisa Whittingham-Brown’s daughter Jasmine, six, sang alongside Ella-Mae. Lisa, of Milton, said: ‘It’s a gorgeous occasion.

Penhale School pupil Holly Jean-Herrity (151891-15)

Penhale School pupil Holly Jean-Herrity (151891-15)

‘Jasmine has sung carols at The Kings Theatre and she absolutely loves this sort of stuff. It makes her feel special and Christmassy.’

Sharmein Bishop enjoyed seeing her daughter Sumalee, seven, of Newbridge Junior School, perform.

Sharmein said: ‘She has been practising for the past three weeks and to see it all come together and see her with her friends was beautiful.

‘It was lovely when the lights were down, it created that atmosphere.

The News annual Carol Service at St Mary's Church in Fratton (151891-20)

The News annual Carol Service at St Mary's Church in Fratton (151891-20)

‘Everything else is shut off and all you have are the candle lights.’

Donations were taken for the Homeless Action project, which aims to support vulnerable families that charities work with over Christmas.

Father Bob said: ‘It’s always special to be able to put together the different groups and here that interaction between the children.’

The Rowans Hospice annual carols and festive fair n PAGE 31