JOY and love filled a church as the Christmas story was brought to life.
A live nativity – starring Dave the donkey, Annie the pony, Bonnie the goat and Graham the sheep – came to Holy Rood Church, Stubbington on Saturday.
Scores of families packed into the annual event for its 10th year.
Rev Richard England, vicar for the Crofton parish, said he was delighted to welcome so many people into the church.
He said: ‘We’ve run this event for many years and for lots of families it’s a highlight of Christmas. It’s always warmly received by the community.’
Guests were greeted with a real stable, with Mary and Joseph and their animal stars braving the freezing temperature.
They then followed the story into the church, waking up the shepherds, hearing the angels sing and seeing the three wise men, before enjoying a mince pie, a hot drink and a spot of Christmas crafts.
Emily England, 14, was playing an angel with her friends Steph Yeandle, 16, Hope Wilkie, 12, and Olivia Medd, 12.
She said: ‘I’ve liked everyone coming together and putting on a show. I’ve liked entertaining people and spreading the word.’
Craig Skidmore, from Kidsrome, a mobile farm near Hook, was in charge of the animals.
I’ve liked entertaining people and spreading the word.Emily England, 14
He said: ‘It’s always a popular event. We do the mobile farm all year round but this time of year with the nativity is special. It brings the story to life.’
Enjoying the day was the Thomas family from Gosport. Dad Rich, 32, attends a monthly dad and baby club at the church called Who Let The Dads Out?
He was at Saturday’s event with his wife Helen, 27, and daughter Ida, two.
He said: ‘It’s the first time we have come to this event after hearing about it at the play group. Mary and Joseph look a bit cold but it’s good. There’s a good community spirit.’
The church was also playing a track it had recorded especially for the festivities. Love Came Down At Christmas, a poem by Christina Rosetti, has been sung by seven-year old Emily Downs, Emily England, 14, and her mum Kathryn England.