CHRISTMAS has officially arrived in Felpham.
Bishop Tufnell CE Primary School pupils Jamie Greed, eight, and Lauren Smith, nine, brought the village’s Christmas tree to life by performing the switch-on.
Lauren said: “It was very nice to put on the lights. I came to this event last year and saw the lights.”
Jamie was the only boy in the school’s choir which performed just before the big moment.
He said: “I was a tiny bit scared because there were so many people here but I enjoy singing.”
The school’s headteacher, Nick Sharp, said: “This is a fantastic event for us. We are a school that believes in working for the community and this is very much a community event.
“It’s lovely for people to see and hear the children and realise what they have been doing putting their songs together. The choir gave a performance to our assembly this morning, which was lovely.”
“It’s also nice for the children to listen to the Felpham Community College because it gives them something to aspire to.”
The friends were helped in the traditional task by Father John Challis, the vicar of St Mary’s Church next door to Grassmere Parade, where the some 18ft high tree stands.
Mr Challis led up to switch-on by blessing the tree after he had cracked some groan-inducing jokes about Theresa May’s government, data protection laws and Jesus.
The church choir had performed a medley of songs to get the hour-long event underway last Friday.
Next came Felpham Community College with two of its A-level music students – Jas Blakey, 18, and Megan Balcombe, 17 – performing solo songs and playing guitar.
Jas said: “I enjoyed it. We all like Christmas and it is was nice to perform outside. Music is what I do. I have enjoyed it since I was a child.”
Megan said: “This gives us an opportunity to perform not just to ourselves in college but to other people. It’s like giving a bit back to the community.
“It’s very nice to see everyone joining together to perform like this and there are different types of music – carols with more modern styles as well.”
The occasion has been organised by Felpham Village Conservation Society for at least the past five years.
The size of the occasion saw Felpham Road next to the tree closed between Vicarage Lane and Felpham Way from 3pm-5pm.
Some 200 people gathered to enjoy the event. Conservation society chairman Joyce Pritchard said: “We provided mince pies and mulled wine, plus juice and biscuits for the youngsters.
“Donations were received from Tesco and the tree is courtesy of Butlin’s for the third year running.”
Her vice-chairman, Glenn Powell, said the timing of the switch-on was deliberate after the start of Advent away from the commercialism of the season.
“This is the start of the Christmas spirit for us. We have the schools, the church and the businesses all joining together to help us.
“It’s just so nice to see the community college here. They took part two years ago and it is a chance to hear some individual singing as well as the choirs.
“All we do at the conservation society is aimed at involving the community and making Felpham a welcoming and special place to live for young and old.
“There are people of all ages here and it’s good to have young people taking part. This is Christmas time and it’s for the children, which is so important.”
The conservation society was issued with a street collection permit for the occasion and raised £111 from donations from those present. No expenses were incurred in connection with the collection.
Those present have been thanked for their generosity.
The society also stages a summer fete and a picnic in the park which are aimed at families among its other activities all year round.
It is holding a gardening working party at 2pm on December 28 in Old Rectory Gardens.