PARENTS from across Portsmouth were left as proud as punch as they watched their children take a starring role in The News annual Christmas carol service.
The celebration was held at St Mary’s Church in Fratton.
This year, around 500 people packed the church for the service, which included a reading from The News gardening expert Brian Kidd.
And quiz show fanatics got to see ITV’s The Chase star Anne Hegerty, who is starring in the pantomime Jack And The Beanstalk at the King’s Theatre, which starts tomorrow.
Father Bob White, vicar of St Mary’s conducted the service.
Midway through, he played a game in the same format as The Chase based around Bible teachings.
I love to see all of the children performing and it is great atmosphere.Margaret Jane
Editor of The News Mark Waldron gave a speech.
Children from Newbridge Junior School, Arundel Court Primary, Manor Infants and Penhale Infants took part in the service, singing hymns.
Margaret Jane, 72, from North End, attends the service every year.
She said: ‘It was lovely. I used to always bring my children and grandchildren all of the time.
‘I love to see all of the children performing.
‘There’s a great atmosphere and it sets you up for Christmas.’
Friends Margaret Cooper, 82, and Violet Marsh, 86, travelled from Milton.
Margaret said: ‘The service was excellent.
‘It was lovely to see all of the children singing and everybody getting together, young and old.’
Tom Coles’ two daughters, Ellen and Kiera, took part in the service from Penhale Infants.
Tom said: ‘Ellen had a bit of stage fright before.
‘We would definitely come back again next year in where I think is the heart of Portsmouth.’
Father Bob said: ‘The service went very well.
‘There’s always a sense of celebration from the service and the meaning of Christmas in the community.
‘St Mary’s is a wonderful space and we love to share it with as many people as we can over the festive season.
‘It gives people a chance to sit back, think and reflect.’