Diocese of Portsmouth

    Cbeebies star Gemma Hunt leads hundreds in pirate parties

    Children and Young People
    12 May 2024

    FOUR hundred adults and children crammed into a Locks Heath church for a pirate party led by Cbeebies presenter Gemma Hunt.

    Families dressed in their finest pirate costumes and poured into St John the Baptist Church in Locks Heath for one of two identical pirate-themed services. Gemma led them in games, songs and a Bible story as part of the hour-long extravaganza.

    She asked the children to help her find her pirate’s treasure, asked one parent to walk the plank, and told the Bible story of the woman who lost a coin. Meanwhile there were plenty of pirate-themed activities outside the church for families to take part in between the two services.

    A choir from St John the Baptist C of E Primary School in Titchfield Common, dressed in eye patches and pirate hats, helped lead the songs alongside the worship band from the church.

    That night, Gemma was also interviewed about her broadcasting career and her Christian faith at an evening event that included a glass of Prosecco.

    Gemma, who has presented the pirate-themed gameshow Swashbuckle since 2013, was working with the vicar of St John the Baptist, the Rev Luiz Lima for the fourth time. The evangelistic event was designed to kick off a new series of family services on the next few Sunday mornings.

    Lucy Sutton, who brought her daughters Esme, 5, and Evie, 3, said: “They really enjoyed seeing Gemma. They’ve seen her on the TV, so the fact that they saw her in the flesh was very exciting. We come to Messy Church here as well, and it’s a really family-oriented church, everyone is so welcoming.“

    Helen Coundley was the mum who was asked to walk Gemma’s portable plank, at the end of which she was covered in gunge. Her daughter Hettie Stratton, aged 8, had no hesitation in nominating her mum.

    And Grace Cobb, aged 7, said: “I was part of the choir, and I really enjoyed the singing.” Her mum Pam said: “It was really entertaining. They’ve been watching Swashbuckle all their lives, so it was exciting for them.”

    Cbeebies presenter Gemma Hunt leads the pirate party at St John the Baptist Church, Locks Heath
    Cbeebies presenter Gemma Hunt leads the pirate party at St John the Baptist Church, Locks Heath
    The pirate-themed service involved plenty of audience participation
    The pirate-themed service involved plenty of audience participation

    The vicar, the Rev Luiz Lima, said: “Most of the 400 people who were here aren’t part of the congregation, apart from those who volunteered to help with the activities. So this is just the start of the journey for those people. We’ve had so many conversations with them about coming back again next week, when we'll lead a service that will be just as much fun.”

    The church was decorated with a sea-themed collage, inflatable palm trees and a pirate’s ship. Outside there was the chance to make inflatable swords, play in a sandpit, have their faces painted and to get a pirate-themed temporary tattoo.

    (Photos: Laura Scottorn)

    St John's, Locks Heath

    Church Road, Locks Heath, SO31 6LW

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