Copnor residents remember the true meaning of Christmas in walking nativity

THE clock was turned back more than 2,000 years as three wise men followed a guiding star – but through the streets of Copnor this time – in search of baby Jesus.

Saturday, 7th December 2019, 5:53 pm
Updated Monday, 9th December 2019, 12:57 pm

The historic scene was part of a walking nativity performance as residents were reminded of the true meaning of Christmas.

Starting at St Nicholas’ Church, Battenburg Avenue, participants walked to Copnor Methodist Church where the final nativity scene was re-enacted.

Stopping at six stages the procession recreated the nativity story with children from the Portsmouth boys and girls brigades taking on leading roles.

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The Walking Nativity makes its way through the streets of Copnor. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Stars of the procession were Jarod Collins, 11, and Lena Zieba, eight, taking on the roles of Joseph and Mary.

Jarod said: ‘I’ve done the nativity before but this is the first time I have taken part in a walking nativity. It was really exciting to perform in front of so many people.’

Lena added: ‘I’ve never played Mary before but it was really exciting to take part.’

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Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, David Fuller, with organisers and participants in the Nativity Walk. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Many of those taking part were dressed in character and were joined by two donkeys from Hayling Island Donkey Sanctuary.

As the procession journeyed through the streets they were joined by people from surrounding houses as renditions of classic carols such as Away in a Manger and Silent Night filled the evening sky.

Becky Cornell said: ‘My daughter’s school sends home a leaflet every year but this is the first time we have been able to attend. It was brilliant to see so many people out and it’s good to remember the Christmas story.’

Daughter Masie, seven, added: ‘We learnt about the nativity in school and it’s important to remember the birth of baby Jesus.’

Left to right, Jarod Collins, 11, as Joseph, Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr David Fuller, Rusty the donkey, Reverend John Mills, Lena Zieba, 8, as Mary, and Jennifer Motunbo, 13, as the Angel Gabriel. Picture: Duncan Shepherd,

Many walkers spoke about community spirit evoked by the procession.

Rachel Groom said: ‘It was really nice to see people coming out of their houses and joining in. The atmosphere was fantastic and it was a real community event. It really gets people in the mood for Christmas.’

Joining the walk was the Lord Mayor, David Fuller.

Cllr Fuller said: ‘I enjoyed the walk and it’s fantastic to see the community out in force and dressed up for the event.’

As well as promoting the true meaning of Christmas, Copnor Methodist Church minister, the Rev John Mills, hoped the event caught the attention of the local community.

Mr Mills said: ‘Congregation numbers are falling and this helps to bring people out and engage with the church - particularly youngsters. Around 400 walkers took part today and it was our chance to remind people of the true Christmas story.’