Diocese of Portsmouth

    Camels will walk through streets of Leigh Park

    12 Nov. 2018

    CAMELS will walk through the streets of Leigh Park again in the latest Christmas event organised by its local churches.

    Worshippers at St Francis’ Church and St Clare’s Church are putting together the Starlight Festival, which is planned to act as a marketplace for different community activities happening across the estates in December.

    They hope to promote community spirit by bringing together local groups and residents for the free event, to be held between 10am and 3pm on Saturday 24th November, in St Francis Church in Riders Lane.

    And it will be launched with the community’s second procession of camels in two years. The first was in December 2016 at the start of the church’s Community Nativity Play. This one aims to draw crowds into the special pre-Christmas festival. The camels will process from the church to the Greywell Shopping Centre and back between 10.45am and 12.15pm, and then will stay at St Francis Church for the rest of the day.

    Event organiser Carolyn Owens said: “We want to create an event for residents which brings everyone together as we all begin to prepare for Christmas - a sort of community Christmas launch." 

    She is arranging for Hayling Island donkeys to be present for part of the day and she is very excited to be bringing three camels back to Leigh Park.

    She said: “They are three beautiful creatures; they look amazing and to remind us of the Christmas story they will be ridden by three local ‘Magi’ in gorgeous costumes. The spectacle they create is as irresistibly life-affirming as it is surprising and it is exactly the sort of dazzle that people need.”

    Local dance and music groups will showcase their talents at the festival and there will be craft activities and refreshments. The local police, scouts, foodbank, churches and community groups will be represented. The church will build on the success of its Prayer Spaces in Schools initiative by providing quiet reflection areas at the festival as well. Children from local primary schools are also being invited to decorate stars that will be exhibited at the event. More than 2,000 stars are being distributed in advance.

    Carolyn highlighted that although Christmas is a joyful time, it can also be hugely stressful for families and individuals. She said: “Our community groups offer many ways to alleviate the stress and maximise the fun and we want to support them by helping to make those offers open and accessible to residents.

    “People can come to the Starlight Festival to see what is available to them over the festive season - from tips on keeping warm through the winter to alternative dates for the Christmas holiday bin collections, from details of the Grotto opening to sharing Christmas Day lunch at Park Community School - and everything in between."

    Explaining the role of the church in the event Carolyn continued: “The church is a much loved and integrated part of the Leigh Park community. Our resources are currently tiny, but we are constantly looking for ways to provide highlights and sparkles that make people feel valued and add to their pride in this brilliant place.

    “This is a fantastic community filled with fabulous, resourceful people and that should always be celebrated. The Starlight Festival is another way for St Francis’ and St Clare’s churches to make their own offer to Leigh Park and Warren Park, one that supports our neighbours and says to them – ‘We are so proud to be part of this community. You are great, and lovely things should always happen here’!”

    The vicar, Jonathan Jeffery, added: “The message of the church is for all people, at all times, in all places. Here in Leigh Park and Warren Park that is consistently the foundation for all we seek to be and all we try to do. The Starlight Festival is another way to emphasise that message and to celebrate this community.”

    The Festival will take place on November 24 and will be followed the next weekend with performances of the latest community pantomime produced by the churches - a production of Aladdin at St Clare's in Warren Park on December 1 and December 2.