A CITY charity marked the start of a year of celebrations to commemorate its 30th anniversary with a service at St John’s Cathedral.
The EC Roberts Centre, which provides support and assistance to families dealing with homelessness or the breakdown of relationships, celebrated reaching the milestone with a children-focused service.
Hymns were sung and youngsters blessed during the service with Robert Bear, the charity’s mascot and star of a series of books produced by the Roberts Centre, on hand to give children a hug.
While Canon Dominic Golding led out the service, the Catholic cathedral’s primary school choir sang.
Chief executive of the Landport-based charity, Carol Damper, said: ‘It’s lovely to kickstart our festivities here in the church, which acted as the charity’s first drop-in centre.
‘It was wonderful to hear the children singing and to see a number of people come down and really show their support for the Roberts Centre.’
It is lovely to kickstart our festivities here in the church, which acted as the charity’s first drop-in centre.Carol Damper
Ms Damper gave a speech during the service where she spoke of the work the charity has undertaken over the years.
She said: ‘This has become a very special place for the charity. It’s reassuring that people can come together in this way.’
The choir sang during the service before Robert Bear came out for all the children to give him a group hug.
The series of books was published by the charity earlier in the month, with families’ difficulties shown through the eyes of a teddy bear – to give them a stronger understanding of the situation.
They are available to children supported by the centre as well as the bookshops at both Portsmouth cathedrals.
Catherine Hobbs, head teacher of St John’s Catholic Primary School Choir said: ‘The children have so been looking forward to the service and meeting Robert Bear.
‘They’ve been practicing their voices in their lunch breaks and I thought they all did very well indeed.’
Sophia Peacock, eight, from Fratton said: ‘It was exciting to meet Robert Bear.
‘He let me give me him a big hug which was just what I wanted. I’m proud of us as I thought we all sang very well.’