Westbourne gathers for Tim Peake take-off

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From left, Jacob Kennard, Gavin Moon, Ian Doyle and Sarah Talboys-Smith with Shanon Rees and Rodney Watson at the front
 at the Southsea Village in Palmerston Road Picture: Habibur Rahman

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The people of Westbourne gathered today to watch local boy Tim Peake soar into space.

While the eyes of the world are upon the launch pad in Kazakhstan, dozens of family and friends joined together at the small social club in the village his parents still live in.

Children from nearby Westbourne Primary School also arrived - and it’s their generation Major Tim wants to inspire with his ground-breaking mission.

The hall was packed with friends and well-wishers to see their pal become the first Briton in space for more than 20 years.

The 43-year-old visited his home village six weeks ago and had a night out with friends in the village pubs.

Old friend Sarah Webb shared this photo of him popping round to the family home in Emsworth. She said: ‘We’re so excited for him and the family. I can imagine he is really excited.

‘But Tim is just so lovely. He’s as you’ve seen on TV - calm, collected, he loves the outdoors. A really, genuinely nice person.

‘In a quiet moment I asked him, “Are you really okay about it all” and he said yes straight away. He just can’t wait for it all to get underway.’

Major Tim, a University of Portsmouth graduate, will launch for a six-month mission on the International Space Station, from Kazakhstan, just after 11am. His family are with him and friends back here are understandably nervous but excited.

Phil Tole, who grew up just doors away from Major Tim in Westbourne, said: ‘We were part of a little gang and we all used to hang round together. I’m absolutely bursting with pride, I’ve got to be honest. I’m really looking forward to the launch, to the docking later and the hatch opening. There is a real buzz around Westbourne right now.’