Portsmouth church lights up the city with its Christmas tree festival

HUNDREDS of people enjoyed a day of festive activities at a tree festival at a Portsmouth church.

Saturday, 7th December 2019, 2:38 pm
Updated Sunday, 8th December 2019, 3:19 pm

Elf on the shelf, tinsellitis, the first no owl and Rudolph the peg nose reindeer were just some of the themes from the 21 trees on display at St Cuthbert’s Church.

All the trees had been decorated from local groups including Stacey Community Orchard, The Corner Pre-School and Langstone Infant and Junior Academies.

The Mcavery family, who live near to the church, were attending the festival for the first time.

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(L-R) Jude Jenner and Isla Midgley enjoy making reindeer masks. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Mum Sasha said: ‘I didn’t know about the festival but the trees looked great. The festival really reflects a traditional Christmas and gets people in the festive spirit. It’s an event which brings the community together.’

Daughter, Eve, aged four, said the tree from her own school, Langstone Infant, was her favourite.

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‘I made one of the Rudolph decorations for the tree. I really like the trees and am looking forward to Christmas,’ she said.

Lourdes White (5yrs) making a reindeer mask. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

One family had travelled from Emsworth to see the display.

Shay Newman commented: ‘I used to live here and every year we come back for the festival. It’s a fantastic display. My particular favourite is the bauble tree.’

Visitors could also enjoy a Christmas raffle, carol singing and even the chance to meet Santa.

A prayer tree gave people the chance to leave messages to loved ones who have passed on. Children were able to take part in craft workshops to make Christmas decorations.

Lourdes White (5yrs) meets Santa and his elf. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Tariyn Mcnally, aged eight, said: ‘Today has been great fun and I particularly liked making the decorations which I’m going to put on my tree at home. I liked the elf on the shelf tree.’

St Cuthbert’s hope to raise £1,500 from the event with half of the money going to the charity, Canine Partners, to help train dogs to support people living at home with disabilities.

Congregation member and charity volunteer, Sue Wells, said: ‘It takes £20,000 to fund one of our dogs for their entire lifespan and events like today are vital.’

Picture: Duncan Shepherd

St Mary's Church in Alverstoke was also hosting its 10th Christmas Tree Festival with nearly 90 trees on display. Trees were sponsored by local businesses and groups including Gosport Flower Club, schools and Fareham Road Dental Studio. Money raised will help support the church, including the installation of new glass entrance doors.

Church member and organiser, Enid Billington, said: ‘It always gives me a thrill to see the lights go on and the turn out is fantastic. People have come from as far afield as Bournemouth. The smell of the trees and the beautiful lights – it really gets people in the festive spirit.’