PROUD parents, friends and families watched pupils from across Portsmouth singing at an annual Christmas carol service.
The event, which takes place every year at St Mary’s Church in Fratton, is supported by The News.
This year, around 500 people were packed inside to watch the service which included a reading from this paper’s gardening expert Brian Kidd and Marcus Patrick, the former Hollyoaks actor who is starring in the pantomime Aladdin at The Kings Theatre.
Children from Newbridge Junior School, Arundel Court Primary, Manor Infants and Penhale Infants took part in the service.
Jemma Turner, 35, from Fratton, was proudly watching her seven-year-old daughter Evie Haslam singing. She is a pupil at Manor Infant School.
Jemma said: ‘It was really good. It’s quite moving as well. I have been before. This is her last year at the school.
‘This is a really nice thing to do. It’s nice to be here to watch her.’
Marcus Patrick said: ‘It’s lovely to see so many people coming out. It’s great to see all the kids. They love it.
‘It will be very nerve-racking for them getting up and singing here in such a big building. I take my hat off to them because they seemed to enjoy it.
‘It makes everything feel really Christmassy. It’s got a lovely atmosphere to it. It’s a lovely service.’
The service was conducted by Father Bob White, vicar of St Mary’s in Fratton.
He said: ‘It marks for us the start of us thinking about the Christmas story.
‘It’s great to have so many people here to celebrate that and the children singing and sharing their excitement and enthusiasm. It just makes it a great family occasion.
‘For them to be in this wonderful space with the acoustics and for them to be in front of their family and friends just gives them an amazing opportunity and experience that they won’t find anywhere else.
‘It’s a good way for them to start thinking about what lies behind the Christmas story which is about how we live our lives and bring light to the world.’
Aladdin starts at The Kings Theatre tomorrow.