Real camels for church’s huge nativity procession

Alli Henry, Sandra Smith, the Rev Jonathan Jeffery and Louise Elkington with April Elkington and Francis Vassallo - members of the cast of St Clares Church nativity play

Alli Henry, Sandra Smith, the Rev Jonathan Jeffery and Louise Elkington with April Elkington and Francis Vassallo - members of the cast of St Clares Church nativity play

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CAMELS and donkeys will be the stars of a community nativity play taking place in Leigh Park and Warren Park this weekend.

Worshippers have recruited a cast of local residents to tell the story of Jesus’s birth.

The Leigh Park and Warren Park Community Nativity Play takes place in St Clare’s Church, Warren Park, at 6pm on Saturday and 2pm on Sunday.

Before Sunday’s performance, those playing the three wise men will parade through local streets to the church on three real camels, and donkeys, hired for the occasion.

The animals will give an authentic flavour to the nativity play, showing how Mary and Joseph would have travelled from Nazareth to Bethlehem with a donkey carrying their possessions – and how the shepherds and wise men would have travelled to see the baby Jesus.

The cast have been rehearsing since September for the production, using a new script written by director Carolyn Owens.

She leads the children’s work in St Francis Church and is married to the vicar, the Rev Jonathan Jeffery.

Rev Jonathan will be playing the leading storyteller, who will present the story to the audience. They were inspired after acting in the Havant Passion Play in August 2015.

They decided to recruit non-churchgoers from their local community to help tell the Christmas story in a new way.

Dan White, 21, from Buckland, who playing Joseph, said: ‘I have been going to drama school for 10 or 15 years, but the last time I was in a nativity play, I think I was a sheep. ‘It has been good fun.’

And Afton Jerred is playing angel Gabriel. He said: ‘Carolyn had already written the angel as being 6ft so I think that’s why she chose me.’

Tickets for Sunday have sold out, but residents are invited to visit the camels and petting stable in Strouden Court car park, St Clare’s Avenue, Warren Park, from 1pm and to line St Clare’s Avenue for the camel procession from 1.15pm.

The road will be closed to traffic for the procession. For Saturday tickets call (023) 9247 5276.

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